Origins of the Black Costume Special

Spider-Man’s symbiotic costume from the early 80’s is one of, if not the most iconic redesign in comic history.  This is due to the incredible design and the fact that its alien origin led to one of the greatest villains ever conceived.  Even with the over saturation of Venom comics the popularity has not waned. Today I am not going to dive into the origin of the costume.  That has been done ad nauseum but with Spider-Man set to don the costume once more I though it important to highlight a set Venom fans might be interested in . Be warned though, it’s gonna be a challenge!


The design variant is a popular one from Marvel.

Well the black costume was given the same kind of treatment back in 1983 but over multiple publications, some of which have proven to be quite hard to come by.

Here are all the known books that published Marvel’s design.

Comics Journal 85 ( October 1983 )

Unknown until now this magazine published the right side profile on it’s own.  It is the first known published image of the costume. I realized after looking at the other books that the costume profile  must have been published somewhere as all the other angles were published on their own and later collected into one image as the release of ASM 252 approached.

Amazing Heroes 35 ( November 1983 )

Probably the most well know of the bunch this book does well at auction.  Shaun Leggit mentioned it on a recent Unpressable Defects Podcast and now finding cheap copies is a struggle.


Heroes Hotline ( December 1983 )

Comic Reader 215 ( December 1983 )

This book assembles all the views previously published into one image minus the shooters and crouch which we see here for the first time.

Amazing Heroes 39 ( January 1984 )

For a time I thought this was the first time the costume design was made public.  I believe the discovery of this book led to further investigation by passionate fans.  This one published the crouching front shot on it’s own.


Marvel Age 12 ( March 1984 )

And finally this book came out just prior to the first appearance.  It is popular with collectors thanks to its misrepresentation as the first black costume. Unlike the others it shows a completely different version or prototype unseen anywhere else.

After this the costume debuted in ASM 252 and the rest it history!

Much of this info was scattered across the web minus a few key points. Collecting it and organizing it here was the goal.  Good Luck!


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