Marvel fans haven't lacked in top-tier quality content for over a decade now, thanks to the MCU and to Martin Scorcese's great chagrin. The 'What If' series as a concept is pretty comic booky and lore heavy. Yet it has landed smack dab in the target audiences hearts.
Comic books are an expensive hobby, for sure, and at this point it is pretty hard to know where to jump in. Story arcs are long and complicated. The comicverse of the marvel pantheon is interconnected to an inexplicable degree. Mutants, magic, Gods and metahumans, all co-exist in the comicverse. That level of mutual dependency adds yet another layer of intricacy to current comic books.
There is a current series that is presently at its midway point, and also simultaneously one of the best alternate versions of Spider-Man told in comics since The Superior Spider-Man* back in 2013.
The premise is simple, what if Eddie Brock never got the symbiote? What if Peter Parker chose to keep it, who in comic continuity is the perfect fit for the Venom symbiote. Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson have always played second-fiddle to the alien life form's compatibility with the web slinger.
This is a great jumping on point because all you really need to know is the above. Spider-Man: No Way Home proves that the mass consciousness of the Spider-Man lore is deep and needs not be retread. If you even have a vague recollection of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 you are more than primed to enjoy all the nuance and easter eggs in this story arc.
A review of the story arc thus far
What if Spider-Man never got rid of the symbiote? He would kill his gallery of enemies. But as lovers of fiction know in their hearts, it is not the destination but the journey that matters. Parker's descent, if you can even call it that, is very justified. All of us have a very concrete idea of Spider-Man's morals and inner code. But the venom symbiote is insidious and friendly. It consoles Parker, it enhances Spider-Man, and it takes on both of their burdens.
It is bone-chilling to read because it is so relatable. You see Spider-Man hunt and kill the Sinister Six. Yes of course out of revenge, but also to end the cycle of violence. Even though the symbiote enhances Spider-Man beyond his already awesome levels of strength (canonically Spider-Man has always held back his punches because he really doesn't want to hurt anyone), Venom cannot protect those who Peter truly loves. Both of them feel the loss of Gwen Stacy and Aunt May deeply, they start referring to themselves as "We." Spider-Man still quips and makes jokes, but he's the only one laughing.
Chip Zdarsky is out here competing with the MCU on ink and paper masterfully. As it stands currently, Spider-Man has killed a large chunk of his villains, and all the other metahumans, both good and bad, are deeply disturbed.
Venom Spidey simply has a power level that seems to just keep growing. Since Venom is the perfect match for Peter, some terrible metamorphosis is happening due to the "parasitic" nature of Venom, according to Mr. Fantastic.
Peter disagrees and reiterates that it is a "symbiote" hence implying it is a symbiotic relationship and shrugs off Reed Richard's help.
At the rate this version of Spider-Man is going, it won't be long before power levels above his weight class turn their attention to Venom Spidey, and we get front row seats to the best comic book Spidey story this side of the decade.
The four part series is ongoing and issues are available online and at Jamil's collectibles.
Writer's Note: The Superior Spider-Man is a 33 issue story arc. that was written by Dan Slott to great critical acclaim. Wherein Doctor Octopus possesses Spider-Man's body and dons the responsibility of protecting New York while also pretending to be Peter Parker.