Spider-Man – Spider’s Shadow
Writer – Chip Zdarsky
Artist – Pasqual Ferry
Chip Zdarsky showed us what Peter Parker’s life would be like if he aged in real time in Spider-Man: Life Story. Now Mr. Zdarsky takes us on a journey to answer the question – What if Peter Parker bonded with the Venom symbiote?
During Secret Wars, Spider-Man’s costume was torn to shreds after engaging in numerous fights with supervillains. He came across a machine on Battleworld that produced a small black glob that adhered to him and became his new duds. Eventually, Peter visited Mr. Fantastic to have Reed analyze his black suit. It was revealed that the new wardrobe was actually alive and classified as a symbiote. Peter would end up ditching the symbiote and going back to his classic red and blue costume. The symbiote would bond with Eddie Brock and become Venom.
Spider’s Shadow plays out pretty much the same scenario except that Peter isn’t willing to give up the costume just yet. He visits Aunt May one evening and the two end up making up after an argument they had previously about Peter dropping out of school. Their reunion is cut short when the Hobgoblin attacks May’s home. This is when we see the road not taken. Peter gives into the power of the symbiote, and things start to spiral horribly out of control. His relationship with Mary Jane, his friendship with Johnny Storm, and his partnership with Black Cat are all affected by Peter’s fateful decision.
Peter’s anger helps feed the symbiote and some of the actions he takes against villains like the Scorpion and Shocker are not only reprehensible but stomach churning and horrific. Please be advised that some scenes in this mini-series are straight out of a horror movie. There is safety in numbers, however, and Doc Ock assembles familiar faces to form the Sinister Six. Two members we haven’t seen before end up tagging along to try to stop Peter’s rampage.
I think making this story a multi-issue miniseries was the right call. I hope this is the template they use going forward for more What If? stories. Sometimes one or two issues just isn’t enough to tell a great story. Most What Ifs are usually dark that end on a shocking or depressing page or panel but this one sees Peter finding redemption for his actions and mistakes in a way we haven’t seen before. Peter’s life is once again full of hope and happiness. There is an epilogue that sets up a sequel, which I hope we see sooner rather than later.
I really liked the design of Peter’s costume once he becomes a bad guy, and it was a joy to see Pasqual Ferry on art duties because it seems to me that he took a short break from drawing comics. I also enjoyed the visit back to the 80s era of Marvel. It’s a joy to see Iron Man’s Silver Centurion armor and the Avengers lineup of Captain America, She Hulk, and, yes, even Doctor Druid.
A lot of people are on a Spider-Man kick after the release of No Way Home and I definitely recommend this trade paperback, if you haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet. I need to go back and read Zdarsky’s run on Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man. He has done such a great job telling alternate tales of Spider-Man that I would have liked him to take the reins as the new writer of Amazing Spider-Man.
All it takes is one simple change to have a brand-new life. All we have to do is ask ourselves -What if?