Peter David and Greg Land are launching their third Symbiote Spider-Man series this week, this one a full-fledged tie-in to December’s King in Black. But how can a series set in Peter Parker’s past when he wore the Symbiote costume tie into current events? Consider The Watcher and Kang on the cover and note the time-travel tomfoolery we’re likely in for! This new series is shockingly more cosmic than you might think, if you are a Rocket Raccoon fan, gear up for this one.
Speaking as a reviewer who has liked, but not loved the Symbiote Spider-Man series that came before this, I was shocked to find a deep and satisfying read in this first issue. It’s largely due to the cameos, which includes the characters mentioned above plus the Black Knight. There are a lot of cameos in this book and in them, a lot of time spent with Kang and Watcher. Frankly, this is as much their book as it is Spider-Man’s, at least in this first issue. This character matters a lot more now that Watcher has returned to the main universe due to events in the Empyre epilogue, more which further cements the purpose of this tie-in series.
Running 34 pages, this issue is also a bit longer than your average floppy. Thanks to some expert plotting, it never gets boring and instead lays on mystery after mystery as well as new characters to enjoy. Kang is a character who is always good for a bit of scenery-chewing, and he does so here. As a book taking place in the earlier years of Peter Parker — who is once again working for the Daily Bugle — it’s also cool to see thought bubbles in use. It’s easy to forget they’ve gone out of style, but once you read them it livens up the book a bit and gets you inside Peter’s head at opportune times.
Land’s art is about what you’d expect. The usual facial expressions pop up on women, certain pages will look oddly familiar, but he also has a handle on explosive splash pages. Kang looks particularly cool in his purple and green costume with great use of light by color artist Frank D’Armata. Inker Jay Leisten puts a nice thick line on everything, and for a book involving a Symbiote, he doesn’t disappoint with the layering of dark tones. A shadow creature rears its head midway through the book and it’d be interesting to see the original Land art and how the inks and colors enhance it.
For those looking for King in Black ties, you’ll need to wait. There are certainly a few ways this story could go, but as it stands it’s unclear how this will tie into the event. With a time traveler and ancient aliens in the narrative, it’s bound to connect in a real way, though.
This is an entertaining comic that maximizes its extra-large size with entertaining scenes featuring many characters. Frankly, if you’re looking for exclusive Spidey entertainment you might be disappointed, but if you’re a hardcore Marvel fan, you’ll be delighted to see a few different cameos. The fact that the final page teases even more cameos is a good sign indeed. Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black is must-read comics for hardcore Marvel fans.
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