Caveat Emptor: A Brief History of Alien Symbiote Costumes.

Just because you're an Alien American, it doesn't mean that you necessarily want an alien symbiote for a uniform.

Just because you’re an Alien American, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily want an alien symbiote for a uniform.

Really? You took the punch line THERE, didn’t you? We’re approved by the Comics Code here, people…she was talking about the alien bonding process of the symbiote. Get your minds out of the gutter.

Moving on…

So, today is the Pupil Free Day, the day of “set up” for the new school year. I have a bunch of things to do from printing up parent letters and syllabi, organizing the classroom desks, setting up the “white board configuration” and installing the room’s computer. Last I checked the air conditioner was out, so that’s a bit unpleasant. I’m nervous, to be honest, but really just because of the newness of the whole situation. I’m fairly well known for disliking change.

Still, one of my bigger concerns is the lack of a costume redesign for the protagonist. The Frog of Thunder asked a solid enough question above, in that when Spider-Man’s costume was redesigned in the 80’s (during the first “Secret Wars”) he got an alien symbiote. A big part of the reason for selecting the “black uniform” design was because it was visually simpler, and came off of the page pretty boldly.

Let’s do a very brief history lesson, shall we?

The first appearances of a symbiote (alien costume organism) occur in The Amazing Spider-Man No. 252, The Spectacular Spider-Man No. 90, and Marvel Team-Up No. 141 (released concurrently in May of 1984). The story her is that Spider-Man brings the alien home to Earth after the Secret Wars (Secret Wars No. 8, specifically, which was released months later, details his first encounter with it). The concept was actually created by a Marvel Comics reader, with the publisher purchasing the idea for $220. That proved to be 220 bucks very well spent…

The original design was then modified by Mike Zeck, eventually becoming the Venom symbiote. The concept would be explored and used throughout multiple storylines, spin-off comics, and derivative projects. Much more than $220 dollars was made off of that concept and/or design.

Spidey first receiving the alien costume, as disturbing goo that runs up his arm and bonds with him.  Ick.

Spidey first receiving the alien costume, as disturbing goo that runs up his arm and bonds with him. Ick.

That’s it above…that’s how it happens. Apparently, there was a costume making machine in the same room, that Spidey somehow overlooked. He finds this out pretty fast…

At least he's questioning the whole thing.

At least he’s questioning the whole thing.

The alien costume had certain advantages over the old red and blue suit, though. The suit not only augmented his spider-like abilities, it also possessed some powers of its own; the suit generated its own supply of webbing and could change appearances according to Spidey’s thoughts. No more web fluid cartridges, and also no more worrying about a change of clothes. Very convenient.

The alien costume's appearance, as well as it's most convenient ability.

The alien costume’s appearance, as well as it’s most convenient ability.

Spider-Man soon discovered that the suit had a mind of its own, using Peter’s body while he was sleeping. Using it for various unknown “super outings” that were physically exhausting him, sort of “going out on the town,” as it were. Peter brought the suit to Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and the two Science Bros learned that the suit was actually a symbiotic life form that had physically and psychically bonded to Peter. Very, very not good.

Yeah...very, very not good.

Yeah…very, very not good.

Reed needed to use powerful sonic waves to forcefully separate the symbiote from Peter. A few other things happen in the interim, after the alien escapes, but the short form is that it bonds with someone else, and becomes the incredibly big hassle of a foe called Venom. Sort of a creepy, meanspirited anti-Spider-Man.

That character has been re-invented over the course of the past year or so, in “Guardians of the Galaxy” (the comic). This resulted in a retcon that made the symbiotes less…gross and evil, and made Venom into more of a “Space Marine” style warrior. Apparently, the character will once again have his own book, entitled “Venom: Spaceknight,” suggesting some intersection with all of the Rom based characters and settings that Marvel still owns. Venom will be retaining his more sci-fi apperance, depicted here:

Almost all of those aliens are gross.

Almost all of those aliens are gross.

In short…changing a costume can be a Big Deal, and I have to suggest that any superhero should be mindful of the process. Just because an alien symbiote looks cooler than your old costume…it still might not really be the way to go. In most cases, the uniform WON’T come back with an evil agenda, worn by someone you used to know…but if Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Ant-man have taught me anything, it’s exactly that. Superhero clothing hand me downs are just plain dangerous.

That’s clearly why our hero is rejecting the idea presented by the Frog of Thunder. With easily sixteen of the costumes in use in the Marvel Universe (seriously, with their own superhero names and all), the costumes are easy enough to come by. There’s a whole “Planet of the Symbiotes” which was a plotline during the awful “Clone Saga” of Spider-Man. So you can pretty much pick up a brand new one, easily. Accepting the fact that it will get inside your body, and use you while you sleep, as established from the Code Approved Comics panels above. Thank you Marvel Comics of the 80s for a disturbing subtext indeed.

Still…it’s way more interesting to me to fuss over the new costume issue than to actually spend time worrying about all the insignificant little things I would worry about, starting at a new school. The rubber truly meets the road when the first day with students starts. I plan on dressing pretty fancy for that, maybe a bit more like a Team Player, so most probably the next post will have our hero, at least for the once, wearing the Edu-Mountain style uniform.

Or maybe not. I haven’t drawn it yet.

Next Issue: Day One!


2 thoughts on “Caveat Emptor: A Brief History of Alien Symbiote Costumes.

  1. I bought like 8 copies of Secret Wars #8. I think I still have them mylar bagged in my basement. Maybe they’re actually worth something, unlike the rest of my comic book collection from the mid-80s.

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