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"Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Marvel Comics


Written by Chip Zdarsky
Illustrated by Pasqual Ferry
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
2021, 36 Pages, $4.99
Comic released on April 14th, 2021


During The Secret War, Peter Parker needed a new suit and found a black, gooey substance that passed for one. Thus, the symbiote saga began. As we just wrapped up King in Black, a huge event that redefined everything we knew about Venom and these creepy creatures, it's fitting that Marvel is taking a look back at what could have been. What If...Peter Parker became Venom? Instead of a one-shot, we're getting a whole mini-series, taking us down this road that was not traveled.

I'm so glad Marvel is returning to and expanding upon the What If stories. I found that the one-shot format is not enough to tell the full story, so this mini-series should have enough room to breathe, especially with writer Chip Zdarsky at the helm. After his work on Spider-Man: Life Story, he's shown he knows how to dig into the continuity and tell a compelling story.

That's definitely the case with Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow. The symbiote is like a drug to Peter Parker. It's hurting him, but he's addicted to it. He can't give this up. It gives him strength and power he's never seen before. Despite the warnings from Mr. Fantastic, Peter holds onto the symbiote, leading to pain and heartbreak. Instead of this being the come-to-Jesus moment it should be, the wall-crawler takes a different, darker path, embracing this ruthless nature and becoming Venom.

Click images to enlarge

This issue is very much set in the time when the origins of this story were first laid out, back in 1984's Amazing Spider-Man #258. I'm glad that the creative team didn't update the style to be more modern, as it would have felt a little stranger. Artist Pasqual Ferry matches up the look and feel of the time period well, particularly with the designs for each character, albeit with some more detail and depth.

What really stands out in Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow is how the web-head looks in costume. He's like a walking shadow, appearing in all black with just the white spider on his chest, and the whites in his eyes and backs of his hands. It gives him a more menacing appearance that serves as phase one of the transformation. When we do get the full Venom look, it's a new design, mixing the traditional Spider-Man with the classic Venom to create something new and horrifying. It's also very alien, giving us the feeling that Peter Parker has taken a back seat to his “other.”

The final moments of this issue serve to usher in this new Venom in fire and pain. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth lights the scene with flames burning away what was left of Peter's humanity, giving birth to this monster. The blacks don't shine or glisten. Instead, they just suck in the light around them like a dark abyss, destroying all hope nearby.

Click images to enlarge

Throughout this issue, Peter is haunted by a voice in the back of his head. It's that of the symbiote urging him to get more and more violent. Letterer Joe Caramagna shows this in black word balloons with scratchy outlines. They're smaller, as the symbiote isn't as powerful early on, however they get much larger as it takes control.

Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow is a chilling look at what could have been for Peter Parker. The groundwork is laid for a path of violence and destruction in this debut issue. I cannot wait to see how this decision changes things not only for Spider-Man, but for those closest to him and the villains he encounters. There are no more quips in battle or leaving a villain strung up for the cops to take in. This is pure power and aggression but not tempered by Peter's humanity.


Story: fourstars Cover
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Art: fourstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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