Review – Spider-Man: Spiders Shadow #1
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Cover Artist: Phil Noto
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
PETER PARKER BECAME VENOM? Peter Parker once put on an alien suit that nearly destroyed his life – but what if he’d never taken it off? Ignoring every warning, Spidey embraces the dark symbiote! Haunted by terrible nightmares and exhausted by an endless barrage of bad guys, Peter can’t seem to catch a break these days. So when the Hobgoblin attacks, he finds a hero at the end of his rope…and vulnerable to new dark impulses. Spider-Man is about to change his rules – but is it truly Peter who is in charge? Creative powerhouses Chip Zdarsky, Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth bring you a terrifying tale of a Peter Parker possessed and on the edge.
For Spider-fans this issue takes places in and around the classic #258 which can catch up on in Marvel Unlimited! If you already haven’t taken a trial you can take a seven-day free trial then it’s £9.99 a month.
Zdarsky is on top form here, with the simple What If… scenario giving him free space to capitalise on the current Venom and Carnage takeover at Marvel. So far it looks good, there is absolutely zero jazz, greasy haircuts or creepy walk dancing that we saw in Spider-Man 3! He does a great job easing readers into Peter’s fragile state at the time of the story, and even if some of the narration is a little signposted it somehow works! The symbiote is eating him mentally and physically breaking him down piece by piece. It’s won’t let him sleep and jacks him up while wearing it. It’s a great addiction allegory with Parker unable and unwilling to break the cycle.
This Peter Parker is stressed, between being tortured by nightmares of losing his family and coming to grips with bouts of rage and aggression he’s beginning to lose control. A run-in with Hobgoblin finally pushes him too far and he gets the suit checked out (all very similar to the original post Secret-Wars storyline.)
Mr Fantastic warns his that the suit is alive but Peter reacts and leaves, later on he tries to reconcile with Aunt May but things don’t work out..
Ferry and Hollingsworth’s drawing and colouring style are immediately striking, with Spidey often appearing as a mass of flat black shapes with limited musculature. As Parker’s descent spirals downwards in this issue you can feel his pain and emotions. As the issue progresses we see Peter becoming gaunter, unhinged and aggressive. The side characters are underused, but as the story is Peter focussed it works. The final few pages are foreshadowed but to be honest who cares?
Noto’s cover is stunning, you feel reviled and exhilarated with his depiction of the transformed Peter.
I loved the What If? issues in the 1980s and 1990s.. from the ridiculous to the weird and the depressing they help kids (including big ones like me!) explore alternative outcomes to major plots and events in the Marvel Universe.
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If you liked this have a look at the teaser trailer for the new Disney+ show WHAT IF? coming later in 2021 to the subscription service!
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