Symbiote Spider-Man #2
Mysterio has a Spider-Man problem. The guy is just always in his business! But he may have a solution: a recently-fired Hollywood stuntman named Alan Jennings has a sizeable chip on his shoulder that should be pretty easy to exploit.
Mysterio sets a trap for Spidey...
...With Jennings, now rechristened Rockhard, waiting on the other side!
Rockhard manages to catch Spidey off-guard and get the upper hand... but that's when things take an... unexpected turn.
Even if Peter David had written no other Spider-Man yarns except “The Commuter Cometh!,” (ASM #267 – required reading for any would-be Spidey fan), he would still be considered one of the all-time great Spidey scribes. And although he’s never had a breathrough run on the character on par with, say, his Hulk or Aquaman epics, he’s still been sporadically entwined with the character. He’s still more than made his mark with classics such as “The Death of Jean DeWolff,” the first volume of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, the advent of Spider-Man 2099, and much more. David is an introspective, character-driven author with a quick wit and a knack for unique plot set-ups, which makes him a perfect writer for ol’ Web-Head.
I’ll admit, I was harder than I should have been in my review of this series’ first issue. But for comparison, issue two is so much better and more focused than issue one was. (Even Greg Land’s art seems to have leveled-up from last issue. Not sure if Iban Coello will be back next issue to complement him or not, but this single artistic vision throughout definitely gave the issue a more cohesive feel.) Though this is still very much a Mysterio story, David writes a great Peter Parker. But it’s his character work with Mysterio that really stands out here – the man is a bundle of resentment, anxiety, and ambition, but cunning enough to know he needs a ringer when going up against his archfoe. That’s where Rockhard comes in, who manages to avoid being a completely forgettable one-off throwaway villain by having a classically Stan Lee-esque origin and generally be a fun guy to watch Spidey get knocked around by.
This being “symbiote” Spider-Man, though, the issue wouldn’t be complete without some creeping horror as to what’s to come once Peter realizes the true nature of his fancy-pants new space costume – and David delivers the chills on every level. I certainly won’t spoil it, but it’s safe to say it’s more than little gruesome. And a well-earned climax to the issue’s events, before the denouement calls back to what I thought was a throwaway scene last issue, and sets up an even more deadly clash.
Peter David is writing a rip-roaring Spider-Man yarn with more than little bit of creeping horror thanks to the symbiote's presence, balanced by superb character work for often-two-dimensional villain Mysterio. It's an outstanding comic that is worth every penny.
Symbiote Spider-Man #2 (of 5): Master of Illusion
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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