After enjoying Spider-Man: Life Story, I was optimistic to see what Chip Zdarsky might do for an encore. The result is the fairly disappointing extended “what if” story The Spider’s Shadow.
What if instead of giving up the symbiotic black costume when Reed Richards warned him about it, Peter Parker kept it and gave himself over to its dark nature?
Well, according to this collection of five issues, Peter Parker would become public enemy number one, slaughtering multiple members of his rogue’s gallery along the way because the Hobgoblin kills Aunt May. There’s always been a bit of a dark undercurrent to the story of Spider-Man, though many writers haven’t really explored that side of things. Zdarsky did that over the course of Peter’s life in Life Story and maybe part of my issue here is that the timeline is simply too compressed to make for a satisfying story like the original collection was. Seeing Peter slowly descend into darkness makes sense and the question of “what if” Spidey had a really bad day and was pushed too far is an intriguing one.
But this could be one of those stories where it goes too dark and possibly too far. I get that Venom is a violent, dark mirror of Spider-Man — a creature that is the bonding of two entities that hate Peter Parker. And the idea the alien costume might feed into some of Peter’s internal self-doubt and loathing is an intriguing one. But honesty, the concept of Peter going dark was better realized in the animated series from the 90’s when the dark suit was brought into the story. I guess I wanted to see Peter do more than just become a violent sociopath who kills or hurts everyone around him before getting a bit of redemption and an obligatory happy ending.
Like a lot of modern comics, this feels like a story that was expanded a bit too much for its running time. Life Story had each issue focus on a decade of Peter’s life. This one just seems to run along from violent point to horrifying cliffhanger.
I wanted to enjoy this a lot more than I did. A bit of a disappointment.