Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate edition, vols. 1 & 2, by Brian Michael Bendis et. al. Graphic novel.
Back in the 1999-2000 time frame, Marvel Comics decided to "reboot" their entire universe of characters by creating an alternate universe, the Ultimate Universe. The first character to get this treatment was Spider-Man, and these trade paperbacks collect Ultimate Spider-Man issues 1-13, and then 14-27.
The entire run (all 133 issues) was written by Brian Michael Bendis, and this consistency of writing brings much coherence to the plotting and character development. Bendis takes a modern view on the character, keeps Peter Parker in high school far longer than Stan Lee did in the original run, and introduces Mary Jane as the main love interest much earlier.
These issues set a terrific tone for the series, re-telling the origin, as well as introducing key villains such as the Green Goblin and Doc Ock. This type of "alternate history" is interesting, as it combines our appreciation for the originial characters and situations, while allowing us to experience new version of all of these things.
This is my first experience with the Ultimate universe (confession: I am more of a DC guy), and I must say I was impressed. Both the art and the writing are top shelf.
Thanks to Jon Wilson & Zach Henderson for producing the terrific podcast, Teenage Wasteland. I picked up this trade so I could follow along with the first batch of episodes of their show, and will continue to do so. Much of my knowledge of the original Spider-Man stories, which is how I can compare and contrast the Ultimate take on the character, come from another Wilson podcast, Amazing Spider-Man Classics.
Check both podcasts out.