Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1982 – The Real Story Behind Spider-Man’s Black Costume

One of the more significant changes in the Marvel 1980s was the introduction of Spider-Man’s black costume. This costume first appeared in Secret Wars #8 drawn by Mike Zeck and John Beatty and would later evolve into Spider-Man’s archnemesis Venom through the 1990s.

Interestingly, the inspiration behind the new costume actually came from a fan, Randy Schueller.

Here’s Schueller original idea:

“I thought it would be cool if Spidey needed to upgrade his powers and his look, so I came up with this idea that Reed Richards had made a new costume for Spidey using the same unstable molecules that the FF costumes are made of. The unstable molecules would flow into Peter's pores and allow him to cling to walls better. I think my original idea was to increase his sticking power by 25% or something like that.”

“Anyway, I saw the new suit as a stealth version of the original costume - jet black so he could blend in with the shadows. At best, all you could see of him was the blood red spider emblem, emblazoned on his chest. (Yeah, in my design the spider was red, not white. I also gave him underarm webbing like in the original Ditko design.)”

That red costume inspiration was also part of the original design sketches of the new costume done by Rick Leonardi, grabbed from Marvel Age #12.

And seeing the success of the black costume through Venom and in Spider-Man 3, it sucks that Randy didn’t get any kind of acknowledgement either in the comic book or in the movie.

Well, if it helps: “Thanks Randy!”

See here for the full story and Randy Schueller’s point of view of what happened.


  1. Just came across your site. I love it and Marvels from the 1980s. In regard to this post, not to get too technical, but didn't the new costume appear in Amazing Spider-Man #252 first, which was published several months before Secret Wars #8? I think the Secret Wars issue shows how Spidey got the costume, but he had been wearing it for months by then, as seen in Amazing, Spectacular, MTU, and several guest appearances.

  2. Hey Ron,

    Thanks for the comment. You are correct, it did appear in Amazing Spider-Man #252 first, but chronologically speaking the Secret Wars were wrapped up by then (everything happening between issues #251 and #252).

    Hope you continue to enjoy the blog!

  3. Hey guys,

    Just came across your site-amazing info you've collected. SW is a great story IMHO,regardless of its reason for coming into being.

    After reading this, i'm sad to see Randy didnt get more credit. the black costume and the twists involved with it into the early 90s were IMHO the last great stroke of innovation in the spider-man stories...Randy if you're reading this, start a website or something i dont know...not for as much to fight big corporations, but just so that fans like me all around the world have a chance to say THANK YOU.

    1. Why are you giving him credit for the twists and turns that have NOTHING to do with his contribution?

  4. Hey Mohamed, thanks for stopping by and for the comment!

  5. Hey Randy ! I think so, too! You should definatly get credit for things and you should, maybe, start a website or something. I would,seriously, pray about it. I mean, I don`t know how important it is To You, or to your life, but I`d take it into consideration. You`re design was a great idea, I think, and visually inspiring, as well as appealing! Follow your calling. Whatever it is..! :-) Your basic design has been an inspiration for me. Thank God, and thank you ! Just your Friendly neighborhood spiderman!

  6. Personally I thought the black costume sucked and smacked of cheesy marketing rather than good storytelling. And the results, Venom and such, define why the '90s was possibly the worst era ever for super heroes.



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