Characters : Spider-Man : Costume : Black
Here's the scoop on Spidey's Black Costume. You can find more
detail about the stories behind the costume over in the
Spider-Man Comics Index.
The Birth of The Black
The Black costume was born in Secret Wars #8. Secret Wars
was a 12 part mini-series where many of the world's heroes and villains
were taken to a distant planet, to battle at the whim of an
ultra-powerful being named The Beyonder.
In the alien fortress which they captured from Doom, The Hulk
(currently possessing Bruce Banner's intelligence) discovered
a machine which created a new costume for Thor to replace the
one recently destroyed in the battle. Spidey, wanting to replace
his much-torn costume, followed their general indications as to
the location of the machine.
However, when he arrived in the chamber indicated by the Hulk,
Spidey had trouble finding the right machine. Choosing one
which looked like it might do the job, he was surprised when
it released a black blob which caused his Spider-Sense to
The blob spread up his arm and covered his body... and then
transformed into the black costume... which looked very similar
to that worn by the newly appeared Spider-Woman. Clearly,
it picked that form out of Spider-Man's subconscious, rather
than the red and blue which Spidey was attempting to focus on.
Trouble With Symbiotes
Spidey discovers that the costume has the power to generate
webbing, and returns to earth with his black costume in Amazing
#252, now a classic (and pricey) issue.
He also discovers that it also has the power to change to
appear as normal street clothing. All very handy. However
in the following few issues, the costume starts behaving quite
strangely - and in Amazing #258, he goes to visit Reed Richards.
Reed investigates, and discovers that the costume is a living
symbiotic (or possibly parasitic) organism. The costume has
to be removed by force, and is placed in captivity in the
Fantastic Four headquarters.
The symbiote escapes from the chamber in Fantatic Four #274, and
stalks around town for a while, adopting other human hosts and absorbing
their life energy - but none are as satisfying as Spider-Man.
The symbiote returns to Peter's apartment, and takes the form
of his red and blue costume on a coat-hanger in his closet.
When Peter goes to get changed, he finds a little more than
he bargained for.
This leads to the climactic final battle in the church bell-tower,
where Spider-Man uses the sound of the bells to force the symbiote from
him. This all happened in Web of Spider-Man # 1. As we know, of course,
the defeated symbiote finds a new host shortly after, and becomes part of
Venom, but that's another
Black Is Back, and Then Gone
In Spectacular Spider-Man #99, Felicia gives Peter a set of five
cloth Black Costumes, and he wears the first one in Amazing #263. For the
next couple of years, he alternates between the red and blues, and the
black outfit. Different writers had their own preferences, and often he
used the black at night, and the red and blues during the day. During a
battle with the villain Magma (Web of Spider-Man #17-#18) Spidey's last
remaining red-and-blue costume was destroyed. At that point Peter decided
to forego the red-and-blue and wear only the black costume form now on.
When Venom arrived on the scene, of course that created some
confusion. Mary-Jane sorted the situation out, by pointing
out that the Black costume reminded her of Venom, and
insisting that Peter no longer wear it... and that was that -
with Amazing #300 being the last time Peter wore it regularly.
However, Peter did put on the black costume for a few special occasions
after that (Spider-Man #13-#14, Moon Knight #32-#33, and Amazing Spider-Man
Vol. 2 #19). The reason mostly being that it makes him harder to see at