The Symbiote Costume, also known as the Black Suit by fans, is the first brand new change of costume donned by Peter Parker in the first published Amazing Spider-Man #252, and chronologically donned in Secret Wars #8.
The black costume originated in 1982 from an idea submitted by 22-year-old fan Randy Schueller, after Marvel ran a competition for aspiring writers and artists to elicit new ideas for the Marvel Universe.
Schueller's idea was to slightly upgrade Spider-Man's abilities and appearance: he would don a new black, stealth-like suit designed by Reed Richards and The Wasp of the Avengers. Composed of the same unstable molecules found in the Fantastic Four's costumes, this new suit would be more durable and stealth-like than the handmade red and blue costume.
The idea was purchased by Jim Shooter at Marvel for the sum of 220 US dollars (over 500 dollars today) and the opportunity to craft the story. Schueller submitted different versions of the story, but ultimately, Marvel took creative control.
It was not until 1984's Secret Wars that the black costume would debut. Having damaged his original costume in battle, Spider-Man discovers a machine thought to be a fabric replicator. The machine produces a black sphere, which then engulfs Peter in black goo, eventually forming his suit while augmenting his powers and abilities. The suit would later be revealed to be a symbiotic lifeform.
The black costume first debuted in ASM #252 with the tagline "The rumors are true", affirming suspicions that Spider-Man would getting a new costume. Before its revelation, fans rejected the idea and wrote to Marvel asking them not to change the suit. However, Marvel could not remove the black suit since Secret Wars #8-- which revealed the suit's origin-- had yet to be released.
The writers then needed to come up with a reasonable excuse for why Peter would want the symbiote removed, in order to please fans. The idea was then to have Peter to want to remove the symbiote because it was an alien lifeform that wanted to permanently bond with Peter. Upon realizing that Peter knew this, the symbiote got tighter on Peter, not wanting to remove itself from Peter's body. It was blasted off, via a sonic wave blasting gun that Mr. Fantastic had.
The problem then was, that fans actually started to like the black costume, before it was removed. So, the idea was then that Black Cat made him a non-alien cloth version that Peter could wear.
Finally, new artist Todd McFarlane made it clear to Marvel that he didn't like drawing the black suit. So, the cloth was gotten rid of by Peter as a request from Mary Jane who was terminated after being kidnapped by Venom and Peter went back to his classic red and blue costume.
Randy Schueller later tells his involvement with the black costume and Marvel in an article at Comic Book Resources.
Involvement with Spider-Man
The very first appearance of the suit in Amazing Spider-Man #252
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During Secret Wars, Spider-Man had his costume heavily damaged,and the other heroes pointed out to the room full of machinery to fix his costume. Once there, Spider-man released the symbiote, and it covered his body, forming a new costume, completely black with a big white spider symbol on his chest, slightly larger eyepieces and white patches on the back of each hand, he wore this costume for all the duration of the Secret Wars.
After the end of the Secret Wars, Spider-Man returned to Earth and brought the symbiote with him, there he discovered that the costume could mimic any clothing he wanted.
For quite some time, Spider-man used the costume to fight crime, and the symbiote began to care deeply for him. Believing that he was helping him, the symbiote sneaked back into Peter's body after he had taken it off and gone to sleep. It would then carry the unconscious body of Peter through a typical session of fighting street crime silently. Thus for as long as he had the symbiote he would be inexplicably tired in the morning as his brain would rest but his body would be getting no rest at night. After witnessing the suit spontaneously webbing Felicia, preventing her from leaving (because she saw Mary Jane). Spider-Man decided to investigate on his new suit.
Upon going to Reed Richards, Peter discovers that the black suit he donned was actually alive and was slowly trying to permanently bond with Peter. Peter then removes the creature using high frequency sonic waves and the symbiote is imprisoned, however not too long after, the symbiote manages to escape and hide in Spider-Man's closet disguising itself as a normal spider-man costume,and successfully reattaches to Peter.
Panicked, Peter manages to swing to a church and ring the bells until the symbiote detaches, but he passes out. The Symbiote, in a last act of mercy, drags Spider-Man to safety in the undercroft, but decides to not bond with him again, and saddened, leaves.
Amazing Spider-man 317 Symbiote leaves Brock
In pain for Peter's rejection, the symbiote finds Eddie Brock, about to commit suicide, and sensing his own pain it bonds with him and creates Venom, unfortunately, bonding with Brock twists the creature, devolving into a more violent and aggressive behaviour near insanity, having as main objective to kill Peter Parker for wronging them both.
Spider-man goes to a psychologist, who tells him that the alien suit is showing signs of "love-hate" but that the core emotion is still love. Later, Spider-Man is confronted by Venom. Seeing that he couldn't beat him, he removes his Spider-Man costume and offers himself to the symbiote, which surprisingly leaves Eddie Brock trying to bond again with Peter.
However, as the symbiote attaches to Spider-Man, the pain of severing the bond with Brock shocks it, causing both Brock and Peter to pass out, and when the symbiote seems to have completed its bond with Peter, it faints and detaches from him.
Eugene Thompson (Earth-616) from Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 654 page 36
Flash bonded to Venom when he took part of Project Rebirth 2.0. Flash was bonded with the symbiote, which was acquired by the U.S. government after Mac Gargan's arrest after the Siege of Asgard. While bonded, Flash was able to regrow his legs he lost in war, and had gained spider powers.
The symbiote had special nodes put in it to help Flash better control it. But even with this, Flash could not be bonded to the symbiote for more than 48 hours, or else he could lose control, which he did twice after, turning into a more savage and bigger Eddie Brock type Venom.
Spider-man as Superior Venom
Doc. Octavius,as Spider-Man, briefly rebonded with the Venom symbiote by tricking Flash Thompson and separated Venom from him and gave Flash a set of mechanical legs, imprisoning the symbiote.
Flash then tells Spider-Man that the symbiote is scared,and that is "a lot stronger than he remembers", seconds later the symbiote manages to break the containment tank and bonds with Superior Spider-man, renaming himself "Superior Venom" and Doc Ock claims full control over the suit, claiming that Flash Thompson is weak minded and cannot do nothing without the symbiote, and that with his own previous experience with his robotic arms along with his iron will can control the symbiote.
Cardiac attempts to intimidate Superior Venom to hand over the symbiote,but he replies by injuring him and telling him that "a true monster would have gutted him like a fish".
Superior Venom then heads out to patrol the city, learning of the power of the symbiote.
Later, Otto is called by Anna Maria and returns to her apartment,where he learns that Aunt May questioned her about Peter's activities.He then promises that he will fix everything, heading to Aunt May's apartment.
Mary Jane, angry about Peter's way he is treating people, confronts Peter, but suddenly he receives a message about a crime, he changes to his symbiote suit and leaves for the city.
Mary Jane then alerts the Avengers and tells them that Venom has possessed him. After a fight with the Avengers, the symbiote is eventually turned to Flash.
Earth-1610 (Ultimate universe)
Ultimate Symbiote Spider-man
Ultimate Spider-man with the Symbiote suit
In the Ultimate Universe, the symbiote is biomechanical organism called the Suit, created by Richard Parker and Eddie Brock Sr. in an attempt to cure cancer, but eventually got attached to Peter Parker when he attempted to continue his father's experiments.
The suit enhanced his strength, speed and generated black unlimited webbing from it's own protoplasmic substance, and even allowed Peter to take a bullet without injury. The suit was removed after Spider-Man lost control of himself after chasing a burglar that he confused for the one that killed his Uncle Ben, temporarily turning into Venom and attempting to strangle the burglar to death. Peter regained a bit of control and ran into a downed power line that electrocuted him and vaporized the suit off of him.
Earth-1089 (What if... the Alien Costume possessed Spider-Man?)
In this universe, Spider-Man waited too long to remove the suit and bonded permanently with him, stating that no force in the universe, no matter how powerful can now separate them, possessing him completely and becomes unstoppable.
Several days later, he apparently attacks Hulk, but as soon he arrives to Hulk he detaches from Spider-Man and possesses Hulk, and leaves an aged Spider-Man to the ground, who dies the next day as an 85 year-old trying to find a way to destroy the symbiote.The symbiote then possess Thor, but after making a deal with Kingpin, Black Cat destroys the symbiote for good.
In this universe, the symbiote is very sorry for the loss of Spider-Man and doesn't feel hatred towards him as Venom did in the 616 universe because he didn't reject it.
Earth-2149 (Marvel Zombies)
In this universe, Eddie Brock still put on the symbiote, but when he became infected and turned, the symbiote began to die, since it could not feed on dead hosts. Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote are killed by Spider-Man much later.
Earth-70134 (What if... Spider-Man rejected the Spider?)
Peter Parker (Earth-70134)
Peter Parker (Earth- 70134) now bonded Permanently with the Venom Symbiote,as a new being called Poison
In this universe, Spider-Man rejected the Giant Spider's offer to come back alive and killed it, saying that many other good heroes died and never got the chance to get back, while he gets resurrected indefinitely, and for this reason he refuses to accept the Spider's offer.
The Venom symbiote, that was currently attached to Mac Gargan in prison, sensed what happened, and left him in prison, possessed a prison guard and web-slinged to Brooklyn Bridge, where Peter's cocoon was and began to bond permanently with him, because the incomplete metamorphosis left him in stasis.
After several months of confrontation, Spider-Man loses against the Venom Symbiote and it took over, emerging from his cocoon as much different being, that was partly Peter Parker and mostly Venom. His first act is to share his 'gift' (replicate the symbiote) with Mary Jane and Aunt May, who were saddened by Peter's previous apparent 'death', and they were discussing about him when he broke the window and entered.
At first, they mistake him for Venom, but Peter replies that he's not Venom, and starts his speech on how the creation of Venom and Peter Parker merged together was a miracle to be shared, how this was the deepest act of love that Venom could do to show his love for Spider-Man, when MJ told him that he wasn't Peter and how the Venom Symbiote was controlling him, but he denounces Venom as a lonely creature, a loser that couldn't reach his full potential and renames himself 'Poison'. MJ refuses the replicate as she would be rather dead, but Poison states that he can just reanimate her corpse, and that corpse would be just like him, but without 'the pesky feminine attitude getting in the way'.
In that moment, Wolverine and Luke Cage entered in the room and intimidated Poison to back off from Mary Jane, and Poison replied that Logan was being overprotective about his wife and wonders if there was something going on between them, Logan replied that she wasn't Poison's wife, but Peter's, and attacked him, but Poison easily took him out by throwing him against a wall, then Cage grabbed Poison by the throat, and claimed Peter could still be saved and that the damage can be undone. Poison responded by producing a stinger that manages to pierce Cage's shoulder, leaving him in pain on the floor.
After this, MJ didn't want any more violence and innocent blood spilled, so she agrees to the replication, but she promises that she will make his life a living hell to make him pay for what he did to Peter, and to this response, Poison leaves for the graveyard, where he unearths Gwen Stacy's body and put her in a cocoon similar to his, where after a while a symbiote hand emerges from the cocoon, indicating the successful reanimation of Gwen.
In most realities, the costume is normally black, has a large white spider design on the chest area, slightly larger all white eye pieces and white organic web-shooters on the back of each hand.
In the Ultimate universe, the costume is often drawn to appear purple, rather than black.
Powers and abilities
Enhanced strength and speed (with the symbiote suit on Spidey can lift 70 - 75 tons)
Can now stick to wet and/or crumbling surfaces
Organic and stronger webbing, and unlimited
Shapeshifts into clothing
Ability to sense other symbiotes
Weakness to high heat and sound waves
Tags on aggressive behavior
After Spider-Man abandoned the Symbiote, in Spectacular Spider-Man #99, he was given a cloth version, hand made by Black Cat. He wore it for a time, but after Mary Jane was kidnapped by Venom, he abandoned this version as well at his wife's request.
During the latter part of Civil War, after Aunt May had been shot by a sniper as a result of Peter revealing his secret identity.
He returned to the cloth version for the Back in Black storyline to find Aunt May's shooter. The costume was retired once again after One More Day, and his original costume was reinstated for the entirety of Brand New Day and onwards. This version of the black suit was donned once again during the storyline, Grim Hunt.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows
Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows Vol 1 3 Textless
In an alternate reality, where Peter Parker and Mary Jane stayed married and had a child, Peter was too late to help the Avengers and X-Men against Regent who had absorbed all of their powers and killed most of them. He instead opted to fight Eddie Brock who had the symbiote on in order to protect his family. The fight ended with Spider-Man letting a building on fire completely fall down on Eddie, killing him and burning the symbiote alive.
Years later, as Regent rules no heroes are running around anymore, including Peter as Spider-Man.
However, after Peter jumps in to protect his daughter at school he and Mary Jane then decide that it is time for Spider-Man to return, with Mary Jane giving Peter the cloth version of the symbiote costume to become Spider-Man once again.
Symbiote's first appearance
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The symbiote has appeared in many Spider-Man related media over the years.
In the Spider-Man (1994 TV series), the Symbiote is attached to Peter Parker, and it makes him much stronger, faster, but also more upset, at first he's happy of the costume, but the more he wears it he realizes that he's turning more aggressive, as he tries to kill Rhino, threatens J.J with violence and nearly kills Shocker. He takes the Symbiote off in a bell tower, it then immediately bonds with Eddie Brock in the cocoon, and they become Venom. It proceeds to hunt Spider-Man until Spider-Man detaches Brock from the suit by using a rocket engine sound. Later, Dormammu returns the symbiote to Eddie Brock and they bond again, and giving a symbiote to Cletus Kasady, who becomes Carnage, in exchange they both have to help get Dormammu out of his prison dimension, later Eddie goes rogue and rescue a psychologist that encourages Venom to remove the symbiote to be just Eddie for her, he accepts and removes the symbiote, but he's warned that he cannot detach from the symbiote if bonded again, or he'll risk death. Meanwhile, Carnage collects energy for Dormammu in order to power the dimensional machine, and Spider-Man asks help to Brock, who breaks the symbiote prison and becomes Venom once again, but this time allied with Spider-Man. Together they battle Carnage, but the Dimensional Machine starts working and Dormammu starts to exit, but Venom tries to block it, Carnage gets in the way. Eddie manages to destroy the machine, but he gets sucked into Dormammu's dimension with Carnage, looking back at the woman doctor he loved without his 'hood' in the eyes, as the portal closed, leaving Venom forever locked in the prison dimension (or until a dimensional portal can make them escape).
In 2008's Spectacular Spider-Man TV series, the symbiote latches on to Peter. At first doing good for Peter, but after awhile Peter starts to get aggressive in crime fighting and his normal life. Seeing this, he removes the symbiote with the help of a vision that features Uncle Ben. The symbiote is removed, but latches onto Eddie Brock, who becomes Venom.
In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012 TV series), the Symbiote is created by Doctor Octopus and escape to battle and get attached to Spider-Man, Power Man, Iron Fist, Nova and White Tiger. After a while, a new Spider-Man emerges with a look similar to the Symbiote Costume from the comic books. The new Spider-Man is revealed to be Harry Osborn and he is keeping it in a watch, which is soon after destroyed. After the Symbiote is believed to be dead, Harry comes back as Venom.
In Spider-Man 3, the symbiote attaches to Peter's bike early in the film. Later on, the symbiote covers his entire suit while he is asleep in Peter's red and blue costume, and makes him stronger but much more aggressive. With it, he beats Harry Osborn brutally and scars his face due to a bomb he threw back at Harry. Later in the movie, Peter takes off the symbiote, and an onlooking Eddie Brock gets engulfed by the symbiote, becoming Venom. After Eddie and the symbiote separate, the symbiote and Eddie are blown up by Peter, via one of Harry's bombs.
Spider-Man 3 movie poster
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In 2000's Spider-Man (video game), the symbiote is a wearable costume once unlocked. It provides unlimited webbing and the ability to turn invisible and move past enemies.
In 2001's Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, the symbiote costume is still unlockable with the same abilities as before.
In 2005's Ultimate Spider-Man (video game), the symbiote suit is unlockable and wearable for Spider-Man, with no bonuses. Also, Venom has the symbiote suit on, and he is a playable character.
In 2006's Marvel Ultimate Alliance the symbiote costume appears as an unlockable costume for Spider-Man
In 2007's Spider-Man 3 (video game), the symbiote is apart of the story and is wearable, and features rage moves, except some versions, where it just does a boost in damage and durability.
In 2008's Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, the symbiote is wearable as a part of the story. It grants new, more aggressive moves, including tendril attacks.
In 2010's Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Ultimate Spider-Man is a playable character in the 4th dimension/Ultimate universe. Madam Web gives him the symbiote suit, and has control over Ultimate Spider-Man's mind so the symbiote does not take over Peter's mind
In 2011's Spider-Man: Edge of Time, the symbiote suit is also an unlockable alternative suit available (and exclusive) to Amazing Spider-Man.
In 2011's Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, the symbiote costume is buyable and wearable but is dubbed the "Black Suit".
In 2011's Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Spider-Man is a playable character and symbiote suit is a wearable alternate costume.
In 2011's Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Spider-Man is still a playable character with the symbiote suit as an alternate costume.
In 2012's Marvel: Avengers Alliance, the symbiote suit is able to be bought, and wearable costume when the player has enough command points. It does more damage to "Webbed" enemies.
In 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man (video game), the symbiote suit from Spider-Man 3 (film) is wearable, once unlocked.
In 2013's Marvel Heroes, the if a player bought the Ultimate Founders Pack before early access, one of the four exclusive costumes is the Symbiote Costume with Christopher Daniel Barnes voicing Spider-Man for the costume.
In 2014 for Marvel Heroes, a cloth non-enhanced version of the Symbiote Costume, know as the "Back and Black" version was made buyable to regular players for Spider-Man.
In 2013's Lego Marvel Heroes, Symbiote Spider-Man is a DLC character that acts and fights differently from Classic Spider-Man.
In 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game, as pre-order bonus from Gamestop players can access a DLC pack featuring four costumes. The symbiote costume is one of four and grants bonuses.
The original concept for the symbiote costume
During the making of the symbiote costume, the original white spider in the middle of the costume only had 1 leg. This was changed so the spider would have multiple legs. The spider was also originally red but was later changed to white.
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