The History of Spider-Man’s Black Suit
Spider-Man fans have come to know and love the Symbiote known as Venom, but this isn’t that story. While Venom is a fascinating character, with intergalactic origins that date back to the Old Gods, today we’re focusing on Peter Parker’s relationship with the Black Suit, which revolutionized the character as readers understood him.
How did he first don the shocking new costume? And why did he stop wearing it?
Comic Book History
First, a bit of behind the scenes comic book history might help explain some of the narrative choices in the comics. It all started with a competition. In 1982, Marvel held a competition for aspiring comic writers and artists. Concepts for characters and canonical stories were all welcomed. Just a few of the ideas were accepted, including an idea from a 22 year old Randy Schueller.
Schueller pitched a black and red costume for Spider-Man that was stealthy and sleek. He suggested the costume be fabricated by The Wasp, AKA famous designer Janet Van Dyne, in collaboration with Reed Richards, who created suits of unstable molecules for the Fantastic Four. No longer would Spider-Man have a constantly tearing home-made costume. It would be state-of-the-art and self-repairing.
Marvel loved the concept for the costume (it wasn’t yet Venom as we know him), and purchased it from Schueller for a new project (for about $220). Marvel hoped to sell a variety of Marvel collectibles and Spider-Man figures, so they invented a brand new event that would put all of their characters in one arena: Secret Wars.
The Beyonder used his cosmic powers to do something of an experiment. He wanted to see the heroes and villains from Earth fight for his amusement! It would be a true fight, filled to the brim with alien technology, weapons, and opportunities galore. He teleported a massive roster of characters to an alien planet he created called Battleworld.
Spider-Man fought valiantly and, true to his character, ripped his home-made costume mid-battle. With no ability to fix or replace it, he had to look through all the alien technology available. He believed he found a machine that replicated fabric, and when he activated it, the machine produced a single black sphere.
The sphere dripped like mercury and clung to his form, enveloping him and becoming his brand new black costume. Not only that, but the costume seemed to give him new strength and abilities. He no longer needed his web canisters, because the suit produced his webbing organically. He was stronger, faster, and much more aggressive.
He loved the new suit until it was discovered that it was trying to take over Peter Parker’s body and mind. It was a symbiote from another planet, and even Reed Richards wasn’t entirely certain how to defeat it. He used his sonic disruptors, but it wasn’t enough. The symbiote got a taste of Peter Parker and became instantly addicted. It wanted to permanently bond with him.
In an iconic comic book (and movie) scene, Peter Parker was only truly able to rid himself of the symbiote using the blaring bells of the clocktower. The symbiote slinked off, injured by the sound. Peter thought he defeated it, when in fact, Peter had only made it stronger.
Even with the symbiote gone, Peter Parker still found himself desiring the stealth and elegance of the black costume. And he wasn’t the only one. Felicia Hardy, otherwise known as the anti-hero Black Cat, wasn’t quite done with the charmingly designed costume either. Like a cat who loves yarn, she strung together a new costume for Spider-Man.
It looked nearly the same as his original symbiote costume, but his suit wasn’t trying to take over his body. It was just a plain cloth suit with a sleek black design. It may have been his new costume for quite some time, but it seems like the symbiote wasn’t done. It was lurking in the streets seeking another host and seeking revenge against Spider-Man.
Depending on the specific story arc that you read, the symbiote Venom immediately found the reporter Eddie Brock. In some stories, Venom spent some time with Deadpool as his host, but eventually left because Wade Wilson was far too crazy, even for an intergalactic alien symbiote!
Nevertheless, the symbiote eventually bonded with Eddie Brock, and their shared hatred of Spider-Man led them down a synchronized path of evil. Eddie and Venom worked together to track down the people that meant most to Spider-Man. They found Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s apartment, where Venom, lurking in the darkness, practically scared Mary Jane to death. They terrorized her and tormented her.
Spider-Man got there just in time to fight off Venom in his first of many battles. It would prove to be an extremely difficult fight, because Venom does not set off Spider-Man’s spidey-sense. There was no telling what unpredictable thing Venom would do next. It took all of his strength and wit, but finally Spider-Man saved MJ.
But when the fight was over, she still wasn’t okay. Spider-Man’s was in the cloth black suit, made by Black Cat, and it reminded Mary Jane too much of Venom. Peter promised to never wear the Black Suit again, so she’d never have to be afraid. And that was the end of Spider-Man’s black suit.
Which Spider-Man suit is your favorite? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!