Marvel Comics clearly has a good thing going with Peter David and Greg Land producing the new Symbiote Spider-Man series. The fourth kicks off this week with Symbiote Spider-Man: Crossroads, which follows the King in Black tie-in series. Mixing in the Hulk and a dimension introduced by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, can the Symbiote Spider-Man prequel series continue to deliver fun for everyone?
This new series ties into a deep-cut Marvel creation known as the Crossroads dimension. Not seen since 1984, David and Land are clearly using this dimension to play around so as to not affect mainstream continuity. It’s an intriguing idea since it hasn’t been explored too much, although the context of it will fly over the heads of most readers.
As a spoiler-free review save for what is seen in the preview, it’s easy to simply state this book is average in many respects. David is typically good for a few pop-culture jokes, but here they mostly fall flat. The attitude and rage of Spider-Man we’ve seen in previous volumes feel a bit lightened, too. Instead, Spider-Man feels a bit like his usual self, save for a threat at one point.
Black Cat features prominently in this issue, and her dynamic with Spider-Man continues to be great. In an unlettered preview, we can see they have a fairly casual vibe going. That preview also reveals C-lister Moondark is one of the main villains. In fact, this character paired with the Crossroads dimension makes for a rather C-list feel to the book as a whole. There are other surprises that back up this vibe for the book which come together to make the issue feel a bit harder to get into. I dare even the most hardcore Marvel fan to know who these characters are, and by extension, care all that much.
Land’s rendering of Symbiote Spider-Man is as cool as ever. He’s backed up by Jay Leisten on inks and Frank D’Armata on colors with letters by Joe Sabino. Spider-Man always feels a bit alien in this costume and Land captures that with poses and swagger. Spider-Man has a lot of swagger in this issue, which is made obvious from great body language. The art can at times feel a bit stuffy with super up-close shots, but there’s plenty of kicking and diving going on in the later portion of this issue.
Symbiote Spider-Man: Crossroads #1 is an interesting start due to its use of some obscure Marvel characters and elements. In a way, that makes it intriguing since it’s unexplored territory — likely chosen due to this being a prequel that can’t mess up continuity — but it also makes it less accessible.
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