Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality
The world has been magically flipped inside out, thanks to the Hobgoblin usurping the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme! But Dr. Strange has a clue as to what's going on...
But the good doctor has a plan for fixing the world...
Before he can fully commit to Strange's plan, though, Spidey has some personal business to check in on. And boy does it yield a big surprise!
Peter David’s second Symbiote Spider-Man outing continues to be a marvelous joy to behold. It’s not so much the originality of the story that works, but the unique and unforeseen twists and turns the story takes as it bounds along its merry way.
Take, for example, the Hobgoblin. He’s a pretty street-level guy, not much more than a more-intelligent-than-usual street thug with Norman Osborn’s dirty laundry. He’s a challenge for Spidey, sure, but not a world-beater by any means. Here, though, he’s managed to steal the literal Word of God, which has granted him the ability to alter reality to is whim. But why, and to what end? David is canny enough writer that he hasn’t revealed these things just yet.
Another prime example of David twisting expectations is the notion that Dr. Strange wants Spider-Man to learn magic in order to win the day. When he first came to page last issue, it was assumed he would magic up some solution to save the day – because, after all, he’s Dr. Strange and that’s what he does. Instead, the onus is put on Peter as Strange becomes his Yoda.
The biggest twist, though, is that Uncle Ben is revealed to be alive in this strange new world. It’s far from the first time Peter has come face-to-face with his sainted, slain uncle in the character’s fifty-eight year history – not by a long shot – but the impact is palpable. (As is the sly baseball reference David works in that not all fans are going to get, that tips off without a doubt just how backwards this brave new world is.) Seeing Ben and Aunt May together and happy and so utterly carefree is almost jarring to Peter, but for a brief shining moment, he wonders if this world might just be better than the real one.
True to form, though, that infamous Parker luck rears its ugly head, and everything changes in an instant.
And that’s David’s masterstroke: not only subverting expectations once, but twice. At this point, readers have no idea what could come next. And that’s the mark of a master writer at the top of his game.
Similarly on-point are artist Greg Land, Jay Leisten, and Frank D’Armata. Despite any misgivings about the penciller’s forays into excessive “lightboxing,” there’s no denying the art looks sharp, albeit uneven. In some panels, Peter’s face looks rushed, in others, details in general are smudgy and ill-defined. It’s a common flaw with Land’s work, but the end result is, by and large, still pretty to look at – flaws and all.
Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality continues to dazzle, bringing out the best both in the creative team and its titular lead... stories like this are why I love superhero comics.
Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #2 (of 5): Magical Mystery Tour
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 8.5/108.5/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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