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Peter Parker’s Shadow is More Brutal Than You Realize: A Review of Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow 1 + 2

MAJOR Spoilers for ISSUE 1

NO Spoilers for ISSUE 2

Have I ever said how much I love AUs?

Have I ever said how much I LOVE seeing darker sides of heroes??

Well, now you know- and now you know why Spider’s Shadow is like comic porn to me!!

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow is another Spider-Man AU by Chip Zdarsky, who did the acclaimed Spider-Man: Life Story AU, with Pasqual Ferry on the phenomenal penciling and Matt Hollingsworth on the bewildering colors. It’s “What If Peter Parker never got rid of the Venom Symbiote?”. Now, at first glance, you might read that and go “eh, probably just normal symbiote chaos, right? We’ve seen that all before”.

NOPE. You haven’t seen it all before.

SPOILERS for Issue 1 follow. Stop NOW if you haven’t read the issue because you NEED to. You need to see what Peter Parker does. What lengths he goes to. The lengths he never would normally.

You haven’t seen his desire to truly hurt people- on purpose- and follow through on it with almost no remorse.

You haven’t seen him unmask a villain in the middle of a fight, just to beat him senseless afterward

You haven’t seen him kill a villain by gauging their eyes out.

Well, at least I hadn’t until I read Issue 1.

Holy sh*t.

All of this is a result of Peter’s built-up fear of not being able to save the ones he loves, and instead of reacting with his flight response and trying to hide all his loved ones, he reacts with Venom’s fight response. Peter tries to fight it at first, but he’s on the edge- he’s not with Mary Jane, he’s messing around with Black Cat (which, despite who you ship him with, at this time in comic continuity, was not healthy for him), he won’t even let Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four take Venom away from him to study- he’s chaotic. In the end, all it takes is that ONE THING we know will always be Peter’s final straw- the one person that if you hurt her or kill her, he will truly lose it- and that happens.

And Hobgoblin pays the price. By having his eyes gouged out.

I gotta say, it was incredibly satisfying to see Peter Parker fully embrace the Venom Symbiote. Like… God. Did I mention I LOVE seeing when heroes reach their breaking point? I absolutely LOVE it. I guess I’m just slightly messed up that way, but god seeing even an AU Peter just lose it? Gah, so good. It’s just such a contrast to his normal characterization, right? We all know the infamous Uncle Ben line of “With great power comes great responsibility”, but here, all Peter embraces is the power- and NONE of the responsibility. Eventually, this all has to catch up to him, right? I am getting shivers down my spine just THINKING about how this will unfold!!

The art adds to the chaos of this “What If?” world while still retaining enough of the art style from past Spider-Man comic lines to make this still feel slightly real. If I didn’t know this was an AU as I read this book, the art would’ve convinced me this was in canon and I would’ve been freaking out even more. The difference between Spider-Man fighting at the start of Issue 1 versus him fighting as a fully encapsulated Venom Symbiote Spider-Man is astronomical in its impact. Additionally, Hollingsworth's color palette is perfect- the blue hues in the background perfectly capture how Peter’s own brain in this series must look- dark, sad, and lost. I mean, good grief, Ferry and Hollingsworth didn’t have to go this hard, but I’m so glad they did.

Issue 2 continues to up the chaos- so if you thought Issue 1 wasn’t enough, let me tell you, PLEASE make sure you give Issue 2 a shot because- WOW! And… it came out this week so I WILL NOT spoil it. And I hate that I can’t because, my GOD, so much happens in this issue. It’s SO chaotic and unbelievable in the best way possible.

What I will say is that Issue 1 was maybe a 5/10 in terms of chaos for a Spider-Man universe. Issue 2 ups it to a 10/10 for me. THAT CHAOTIC. And in a GREAT way; A way that you can truly only do in an AU. I’m so thankful Chip Zdarsky wasn’t afraid to go there and that Marvel let it get to print, even if it could only ever be as an AU. The brutality of Issue 2 is everything I never knew I wanted in a Spider-Man comic. I am FEASTING.

Overall Consensus

For long-time Spider fans that are like “Peter would NEVER do any of this”- you’re right. Duh. That's why this is an AU- this is a world where all bets are off and anything goes! If you’re down to see it, then do not miss out on Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow. If you think “This is just another Spider-Man story”, you’re wrong. This isn’t “just another” story. This is an AU that doesn’t hold ANY punches (or eye-gouging) and keeps your head reeling and craving more action and answers. It’s only 5 issues too, sadly, so the investment of only 5 issues versus the HUGE return on quality is worth it! I’m having a great time with this and hope to continue to see more AU’s with almost real stakes from Marvel.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Bi gives this:

4.5 out of 5 finger guns

(because I’m bi)

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