Saturday, November 16, 2019



[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Peter David
PENCILS: Greg Land
INKS: Jay Leisten
COLORS: Frank D'Armata
LETTERS: VC's Joe Sabino
MISC. ART. Iban Coella with Frank D'Armata (flashback sequence)
EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Akira Yoshida a.k.a. C.B. Cebulski
COVER: Greg Land with Frank D'Armata
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Artgerm; Ron Lim with Israel Silva; Nick Bradshaw with John Rauch; Skottie Young; Todd McFarlane with Jesus Aburtov; Alex Saviuk with Chris Sotomayor
36pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (May 2019)

Rated  “T”

Spider-Man created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee

Spider-Man is the classic Marvel Comics superhero that readers first met in Amazing Fantasy #15 (cover dated: August 1962).  High school student Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him the proportional speed and strength of a spider and other strangers powers, including a spider-sense that acted as a kind of internal warning beacon.  Parker donned what would become his trademark red and blue costume that he made himself, so he became the crime-fighting superhero, The Amazing Spider-Man.

In The Amazing Spider-Man #252 (cover dated: May 1984), Peter donned a new costume.  A sleek, all-black suit, except for the white spider design, the costume seemed to have a life of its own.  With a thought, the costume would slide onto Peter's body and it could also transform (or morph) into other clothing, including shoes.

In The Amazing Spider-Man #258 (November 1984), readers learned that Spider-Man's black costume was actually an “alien symbiote.”  It had an amorphous, liquid-like form, and it had also bonded with Spider-Man's body.  It turns out that Spider-Man had received the costume on an alien world, as seen in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 (cover dated: December 1984).

The five-issue miniseries Symbiote Spider-Man is set during the time period before Spider-Man discovered that his black costume was an alien entity.  The series is written by Peter David; drawn by Greg Land (pencils) and Jay Leisten (inks); colored by Frank D'Armata; and lettered by Joe Sabino.  The story pits Spider-Man against a classic villain, Mysterio.  [Mysterio actually did not meet Spider-Man in any of the comic books published during the 1984 to1988 original period of the black costume.]

Symbiote Spider-Man #1 opens at the end of an intense battle between Spider-Man and Mysterio.  Via flashback, we learn that Quentin Beck a.k.a. Mysterio has been looking to commit one big criminal score before retiring.  However, while robbing a bank, Mysterio witness a tragic outcome he did not expect.  Returning to the battle, Mysterio is seemingly defeated, but he has witnessed something that may finally give him an edge over Spider-Man.

I decided to try Symbiote Spider-Man #1 because I generally like the art of Greg Land.  In fact, as inked by Jay Leisten, Land's art in this first issue looks like the work of Terry Dodson.  Frank D'Armata heavily lays on his colors; it all looks a little too thick, except for the flashback drawn by Iban Coello where the colors look sharp.  Joe Sabino's lettering is nicely professional, so, in general this first issue is a good-looking comic book.

I have also enjoyed the work of writer Peter David, mostly because he is good at character drama.  Symbiote Spider-Man #1 strikes an odd note.  It is surprisingly melancholy, and a sense of grief hangs over the story.  The themes of loss – loss of life, losses in one's professional life, loss of respect, etc. – do not dominate this first issue, but they do seem as if they will be the dominate themes of this series.

I think Marvel Comics decided to release Symbiote Spider-Man because it was looking for a way to capitalize on Mysterio being the villain in Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios' summer film, Spider-Man: Far From Home.  Although this first issue is a nice read, I don't feel compelled to read the rest of the series, but the last page of this first issue does pique my interest.  I can say that Spider-Man comic book fans may want to try at least the first issue.

6 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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