Writer: Peter David
Artist: Greg Land & Iban Coeloo
Cover: Greg Land & Frank D’Armata
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Release Date: April 10 2019
Review by WolfCypher
An untold tale of Spider-Man that takes place during the Alien Costume Saga, Quentin Beck (Mysterio) attempts a big heist bank robbery. The robbery doesn’t go exactly as planned, as a security guard is shot and killed during the heist, which leaves Quentin shaken.
The next morning, Peter Parker and his girlfriend Felicia Hardy (the Black cat) visit the grave of Peter’s Uncle Ben. Peter notices Quentin is staring at him from across the cemetery, and assumes that his enemy somehow learned his secret identity. Peter leaves Felicia behind to deal with Beck, when Peter’s Aunt May arrives at the gravesite to pay her respects. Felicia and May introduce themselves to each other for the first time.
Spider-Man follows Beck back to his secret hideout. Beck (now donning his Mysterio suit) has contemplated giving up being a super-villain and decides to try to reform for good. Unbeknownst to Peter, Beck was at that cemetery to pay his respects to the bank guard he unintentionally got killed. But Spider-Man attacks Mysterio from behind and relentlessly beats him down. Spidey intimidates Mysterio into answering why he was at the cemetery earlier that day and Beck lies and says he was mourning his sister. Spider-Man eases off and apologizes, but Mysterio, furious, sets off explosives. Spider-Man escapes the building, and walks off, his black costume (an alien symbiote) shapeshifting from a costume to his civilian clothes, as Mysterio watches from a distance. Beck doesn’t seemed interested in reforming anymore.
Right off the bat, I’m going to admit I have a favorable bias for this issue. I love the 80’s Amazing Spider-Man run, which this tale takes place during. I love the alien costume, I love seeing Felicia Hardy written well, and I love Iban Coello.
Its understandable to think that Peter’s a little out of character with how he engages Mysterio near the end. This story takes place during an era where Peter was still hot-headed and brash. While had this had been a current, contemporary, “now” story with Spider-Man acting this way, I’d have to side with the argument that Peter’s being written out of character. But this flashback tale is pretty true to how Peter acted, and was written, during the time this book would have taken place.
The art is good, and though there is a noticeable difference between Land and Coello’s pages, much to be expected when two different artist share the same issue, it wasn’t jarring at all. I prefer the Coello segments over Land’s pages, so it was a shame Coello had few pages to draw. Not to say Land’s art is bad. There are some pet peeves I have with a few of Land’s faces…well, really just Peter’s face. He draws a perfectly fine (some may say…serviceable) Felicia and I even like his Aunt May. Most artists can never seem to find that perfect look for Aunt May. I’ve found in this recent age of Spidey comics that May jumps back and forth between looking like Helen Mirren and a lady Crypt Keeper, from artist to artist. Land finds that sweet spot where Aunt May looks pretty traditional; not too glamorous, not old and decrepit. Unsurprisingly, Land is better with women than with men’s faces.
This first issue is really more Mysterio’s story than Peter’s. I enjoyed seeing Peter and Felicia together, and I loved how this issue referenced the relationship that Peter and Felicia had, how she always came and went into his apartment through his window in costume, I was surprised that Peter David even managed to reference that during this era, Peter hadn’t finished college (this was a big deal during this saga in the 80s; Aunt May actually stopped talking to Peter for a long time and this strained their relationship). Was it needed to be brought up? No,but it was a nice touch, and it came up organically (enough). I even enjoyed all the Beck moments. Beck genuinely wanted no casualties during his heist, and I believed he was guilt-ridden when he got the bank guard shot.
I have one complaint. I was confused near the end when some of the events where taking place. When Peter and Felicia spot Quentin at the graveyard, its clearly day. When Spidey leaves to follow Beck back to his lair, its night, but then AFTER this scene, we cut back to Felicia (and Aunt May) still at the cemetery, and its clearly day, still, and the last pages cut back to Peter leaving Mysterio’s lair, and its night, since these scenes transitioning from Spidey/Mysterio to Felicia/the cemetery never use the trope of “earlier” or “later that night”. I wish they kept all the cemetery moments together and allowed the final Spider-Man/Mysterio confrontation at the end to wrap up uninterrupted, instead of giving us that final check-in on May and Felicia during a completely different time of day wedged right in-between the Spidey/Mysterio climax.
While this book isn’t focused solely on just Spider-Man, don’t take that as a con. Its called “Symbiote Spider-Man”, but the symbiote as of this issue doesn’t play any role in the book. Maybe there’s something planned for the next issues, but if you’re okay with the alien costume having no significant role in this title (at least this first issue), you may enjoy this solid first installment. This was a good start to a limited series I’m looking forward to following, and a fun visit back to a great era of Spider-Man books.