REVIEW: Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #2 Turns The Angst Up to 11

Preview Detail for Spider's Shadow #2 C 2021 Marvel comics

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #2 manages to be effective without drowning its fraught character drama in too much extra storyline frippery. It’s not a perfect jaunt, but it’s still a worthwhile continuation of an incredible first issue.

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #2
Natacha Bustos (Cover); VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letters); Pasqual Ferry (Art); Matt Hollingsworth (Colors); Phil Noto (Cover); Chip Zdarsky (Writer/Logo/Design)
Marvel Comics
May 14, 2021

Peter Parker in his black Symbiote suit crouches over Manhattan - which is perched atop Kingpin's head. He is portrayed in shadow, with a blue shirt, red background and red tie.

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #2  is a strong, well-constructed story about how the weight of responsibility can fray and the nature of superpowers can corrupt. Building on the first issue, it turns heartbreaking and heart-thumping, it makes the reader sit up and take notice of the action.

As we left off with the first issue, Peter Parker is frustrated by the fact that he’s seen as a villain by the press in the wake of the Hobgoblin’s death. The Daily Bugle, naturally, calls it murder. He now understands that his refusal to kill Hobgoblin earlier led to Aunt May’s death, which further causes him to seek vengeance against villains (and their grey-hatted associates) who have previously wronged him. Bit by bit, the Sinister Six come to realize they must band together to save themselves while Peter’s connection to the Symbiote gets stronger and stronger, encouraging him to cut the black heart out of New York’s supervillain scene for once and for all.

This issue provides a lot of catharsis for longtime Spidey readers. Ever wanted to watch Peter have it out with J. Jonah Jameson? It happens in this issue. Ever wanted to watch him punch a guy’s heart out, just like Superman taking out the Joker in Injustice? That happens too, though the gore is heavily implied versus played out on-page, with thin, air-suspended tendrils of blood that say almost too much about the horrors playing out off-page.

The art is beautiful, with Ferry balancing right on the tip between gory scenes of body horror and expansive and glittery cityscapes. (Though the sight of Peter walking around New York dressed all in black is a little bit on the nose). Every single person working on the book brings something fresh and interesting to the table — Caramagna’s letters, in particular, are effective, from putting a little bit of fiery flame into Johnny Storm’s words to using black and red to separate Peter’s thoughts from the Symbiote.

The writing by Zdarsky is solid, bringing in familiar faces like Electro, Kraven the Hunter, and Kingpin. This is the most humanity Kingpin has had in years, as he tries to protect his own limited universe and the people in it from the menace Spider-Man has become. The book also gives us a worried Fantastic Four, who, thanks to Reed’s experiments, knows what the symbiote can do. Johnny Storm is upset about the whole situation, and his desperation to get through to Peter will quite likely build into a powerful confrontation deeper into the series. And poor MJ, who’s stuck watching her boyfriend become a half-alien creature driven by his new moral code. Her anguish is well-done, palpably so, as is Peter’ inner torment. There’s a good scene where Peter sees the toll he’s wrecked on the city’s population that I wish had been lingered upon – in fact the lack of reaction from the populace of New York to the situation feels like a narrative void that needs to be filled.

Overall, though, the team produces another tension-packed winner. All though there’s a couple of stumbles, overall Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #2 is an elegant, chilling what-if story.

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