This week’s Marvel Rundown features yet another throwback to an iconic era of Spider-Man history. Creators Peter DavidGreg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Sabino are back with an all-new miniseries set during the alien costume saga, Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality! The series pits Spidey against one of his biggest foes from the mid-’80s: the mysterious Hobgoblin!

We’ve got mini-reviews of all the alien-suited arachnid action, plus a Rapid Rundown of this week’s other Marvel offerings, all ahead in the latest installment of The Marvel Rundown!

Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1

Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1

Written by Peter David
Pencilled by Greg Land
Inked by Jay Leisten
Colored by Frank D’Armata
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino

Samantha Puc: I must admit, I’m a sucker for an alt-world story where the protagonist remembers everything that’s wrong but can’t for the life of him figure out how to get back to his real life, so Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1 is an especially joyous read. Featuring some excellent zingers from writer Peter David and hyper-realistic facial expressions from Greg Land and Jay Leisten, Peter’s current battle against Hobgoblin goes all out, and I am here for it. The Black Cat switch is particularly fun, especially since it provides only the slightest hint as to what’s going on based on who opens the issue. Hint: It isn’t MJ or Gwen.

This debut issue is perfectly paced for the opening of a 5-issue mini. The exposition is short and snappy, and Peter spends the majority of the book in the Alien Reality, attempting to figure out what’s what. There are lots of Easter eggs here for long time Spidey fans, and Frank D’Armata‘s colors highlight them all in exquisite detail. If this review reads like I’m just gushing, it’s because I am; I wasn’t sure if this debut would pull me in and hold my attention, but it totally did, and I’m ready for issue #2 right now. Final verdict? BUY. You don’t want to miss this trip!

Chloe Maveal: If you’re a Spider-Man fan and have been wondering if your brain could possibly take one more Spider-Man title, well then I’ve got good news for you: Spider-Man Symbiote is here to give you just that, but with a interesting twist.

For an issue aimed at everything being topsy turvy, the choices made seem to be exactly the switch-ups you’d expect. The sworn enemy is the best bud, one of the ultimate villains has replaced a trusted friend, etc. Don’t get me wrong though! It’s not something that prevents the book from being a fun switcheroo to read; but I wouldn’t be going out of my way to read it.

That being said, I thought the art—while a little static for my taste—had brilliant coloring and some really fluid linework that suits any fast-paced story about Spidey.

Spider-Man fans trying their best to keep up with these titles but are still looking for something new might find solace in this new title. But then again…it might just be another pretty book to BROWSE in your local shop first.

Joe Grunenwald: After being somewhat underwhelmed by the previous Symbiote Spider-Man miniseries, I was curious to see if Alien Reality would be more of the same or a course correction. I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the period of time when Peter wore the alien costume, and Alien Reality #1 does a fine job of being both a timeless Spider-Man story and one that uses the trappings of the period in which its set to tell a compelling story.

On the former point, I’m kind of a sucker for stories where the world around the hero is changed and they have to figure out what happened and how to fix things. Going in I didn’t realize that was what Alien Reality was going to be, and it was a delight to discover that along with Spidey. Peter David does an excellent job introducing the elements of the new world in an entertaining way, conveying Peter’s confusion well and making readers interested in learning more about this world. The art team of Greg Land, Jay Leisten, and Frank D’Armata provide some solid visual storytelling throughout, and there’s one cheesecake-y shot for those who enjoy that from Land (not particularly me, so I appreciated that there was only one, but I know those fans are out there).

Overall Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1 is a really fun first issue. Classic Spidey elements and an intriguing alternate universe make for an entertaining read. Plus, any comic that features the Spider-Mobile in any capacity is generally a winner in my book. If you’re looking for a Spidey fix, you could do a lot worse than to BUY this book.

Nick Kazden: A quasi-”What If” story placed right after the original Secret Wars, Symbiote Spider-Man #1 is an enjoyable debut from a stellar creative team. Peter David spins a new tale for the Blacksuit Spider-Man that is firmly in (old) continuity and unlike anything readers have seen before as Hobgoblin has taken the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme and altered the Marvel Universe in minor ways. Greg Land’s beautiful art brings a nice, modern layer to the retro story, with his top-notch skills shining through both in long-shots of Spider-Man swinging around as well as detailed close ups of character’s reacting to their surroundings. Despite the confusing alterations to established characters and places, the story still excels at showing Spider-Man as someone who’s constantly down on his luck, showing the Spider-Mobile getting towed and flag poles snapping once he puts a little bit of weight on them.

It’s hard to tell whether or not this series will generate enough interest to stand alongside Marvel’s other Spider-Man books sales wise, but this is still a unique, exciting debut. For anyone who’s a bit lost managing the current Spider-Verse, with multiple Spider-Men running around New York City, this is a refreshing change of pace that showcases exactly what makes the character so special and entertaining. The high-price point is a bit of a deterrent, but this is a definite BUY for anyone in need of some classic, no-nonsense Spider-Man stories!

Final Verdict: While Chloe suggests you BROWSE before committing to it, Sam, Nick, and Joe all give Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1 a BUY!

From Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1

Rapid Rundown!

  • Captain Marvel #13
    • Last time we saw Carol Danvers, she murdered Thor and presented his head to Vox Supreme. In issue #13, she goes after her next target, and the multi-page spread that shows her punching him through multiple walls is outstanding. This issue also begins to unveil what she’s actually doing, and why; it’s not so simple as killing the core Avengers to please an alien supervillain. Of course it’s not. The storytelling in this arc is super tight and super well-structured — I continue to be totally impressed. — SP
  • Doom 2099 #1
    • Doom 2099 came as somewhat of a tough spot for me. Not only do I love Chip Zdarsky as a writer with his brilliant quips and great pacing; but Marco Castiello‘s artwork is raw, bombastic, and expressive in a way that fits what the team is clearly trying to pull off with the story. That being said, the choice to release the title now seems unfortunate to me because no matter how much I can fawn over all of the creators’ clearly deep future ambitions with this title, it still feels pale in comparison to the current Doctor Doom by Christopher Cantwell. I’ll be interested to see where Doom 2099 goes in the future, but in the meantime, I already have the big concept with Victor that I need, thanks. — CM
  • New Mutants #3
    • While the majority of the New Mutants are off in space, Glob and Armor go on a different mission — and it immediately goes horribly awry. As we get further into the Dawn of X, the threats seem to be multiplying faster than the number of resurrected mutants, and the political overtones are getting more obvious. It’s great to see more of the younger mutants getting involved in this story, finally, and I hope their ingenuity can continue to keep them safe from those who would harm them. — SP
    • So far, New Mutants has focused on a particular cast of younger mutants, but issue three, the first issue to be written by Ed Brisson rather than Jonathan Hickman, puts the focus solely on Glob, everyone’s favorite pink blob, and Armor. Without Rod Reis on art duties the issue lacks the same oomph that Hickman’s romp through space with Roberto and the gang has, but it still is a light-hearted, entertaining read that sets up some big things to come for Krakoa’s younger mutants. It’s hard to say exactly what my favorite thing about the issue is, but I’ll just say I’m excited that more time is being spent focusing on what it means to be young on Krakoa and how the next generation of mutants plan on raising themselves in this new world. — NK
  • Punisher: Soviet #2
    • Garth Ennis is back where he belongs, writing a compelling Punisher story. Issue two of his collaboration with penciler Jacen Burrows dives into the charming, still-nameless Russian assassin’s backstory and sets up some nice parallels between him and Frank Castle. Burrows does a great job accentuating wrinkles and jaw position to express a full range of emotion on Frank’s face despite the relative still, firm look he retains throughout the issue. This issue was pretty heavy on character set-up to make sure the audience feels some kind of connection to Frank’s new quasi-partner, but it still has some enjoyable beats that make me excited for all the crazy things still to come from this mini-series. — NK

  • Strikeforce #4
    • Tini Howard has been doing something really special with Strikeforce and the series’ fourth issue continues the hot streak. Regular artist Germán Peralta is joined by a plethora of fill-in artists who all pencil beautiful flashback sequences narrated by the key characters. Not only does Howard excel at giving each team member a unique, strong voice, but she’s masterfully weaving a larger mystery in the present around the shapeshifting Vridai that makes each member of the ensemble question their past. Even if a teamup between Blade and Spider-Woman doesn’t interest you for some reason, I can’t recommend this funny, stylish book enough. — NK
  • Valkyrie: Jane Foster #6
    • Valkyrie: Jane Foster #6 launches a brand new arc for this latest iteration of Jane Foster, and it begins with a quote from William Shakespeare‘s The Tempest — then dives right into H.P. Lovecraft, both of which set the tone for the start of the “Strange Aeons” arc. Now that Valkyrie has defeated two agents of Mephisto, her next task is far more complicated and requires several extra hands. In true Jason Aaron and Al Ewing fashion, this issue goes interdimensional and immediately gets really weird. Death is dying — but what does that mean? Guest artist Pere Pérez knocks it out of the park here, and Jesus Aburtov‘s colors are, as usual, to die for… This arc has already got me hooked, and I can’t wait to see how things unfold. — SP
  • X-Force #3
    • Krakoa is facing down enemies on all sides, and the newly-resurrected Charles Xavier finally seems willing to get his hands dirty. This issue sees the actual formation of the X-Force team for the first time, and it marks a significant tonal shift that posits more action, more fighting, and more bloodshed in the mutants’ futures. — SP
  • Yondu #3
    • There’s nothing quite like a western in space, and co-writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler are clearly having a whole lot of fun exploring the final, dusty frontier with one of the galaxy’s most ridiculous criminals as their muse. Artist John McCrea and colorist Mike Spencer once again knock this issue out of the park, making the characters feel like a part of their desolate setting and zeroing in on key expressions whenever the core Yondu feels like he’s being mentally challenged or belittled. The two Youndus have been forced together throughout the mini-series, but their interactions here probably feel the most genuine and do a good job referencing the hallmarks of Centaurian culture. Sure, the two of them are arguing as they race to retrieve the Herald’s Urn, but there’s also a real relationship slowly taking shape between the two distinct figures. Only time will tell how the series ends, but Yondu is still fairly enjoyably as it passes the halfway mark. — NK

Next week, Marvel’s current run of Star Wars comics comes to a conclusion with the Empire Ascendant one-shot!