WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Sensational Spider-Man: Self Improvement #1 by Peter David, Rick Leonardi, Victor Olazaba, Rachelle Rosenberg, Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema, Chris Sotomayor and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Marvel's The Sensational Spider-Man: Self Improvement #1 is a fun little tale that hearkens back to the core fundamentals of who Spider-Man is. Part of this story (which Marvel fan Randy Schueller pitched back in the 1980s) involved Spidey getting a new black suit with all sorts of intuitive abilities.
After Peter's regular suit is burnt in a fight with the villain Firebrand (and Pete suffers more than serious burns on top of that), Reed Richards makes him a new suit made from unstable molecules. This essentially means the suit is unbreakable. It's also fireproof. Spidey is immediately enthralled with this new suit. The slick black design, accented by the red spider symbol and patches on top of the hands, are a sight to behold. Pete quickly dons the suit and takes it for a spin.
The suit doesn't just look good. It also comes with a few handy improvements intended to help Spidey with his crime-fighting. Reed built new web-shooters into the suit, which are cybernetically linked to the user. All Pete has to do to use them is think of shooting a web line. Speaking of which, the suit also includes fireproof webbing. And in terms of helping with mobility, the new suit includes web-gliders similar to the web-wings on Peter's original costume. Except these ones actually bring him much closer to legitimately flying, rather than just gliding.
During his second encounter with Firebrand, Spidey sees firsthand that the suit is, in fact, fireproof. Obviously, Firebrand isn't a fan of that. Utilizing the new tools and his own skills, Spidey is quickly able to defeat the villain. But as cool as the suit looks, and as intuitive as it is, it ultimately doesn't live up to Pete's standards, so he returns it to Reed.
Even though this story never made it to print back in the '80s, and the lifespan of this suit was short-lived even reading it now, this pitch would ultimately go on to inspire Spidey's original symbiotic black suit. Not only that, but many of the improvements featured here have made it into the comics in one way or another since then.
Reading about how this suit is made of unstable molecules sounds immediately familiar to Spidey's white and black Future Foundation suit, which was also gifted to him by Reed. Having a fireproof suit is similar to the one-shot Electro-proof suit. And in terms of improved webbing, Pete's web formula has only gotten better and better as the years have gone by. Towards the end of Dan Slott's run on Amazing Spider-Man, Peter utilized all kinds of alternate webs, including shock and concrete.
Sadly, his web-wings don't see much use anymore. Which might be for the best, given Pete's inability to handle the web-gliders here in this one-shot. Still, other Spider-heroes have had great success with them, none more so than Miguel O'Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099, who might be seeing a return to the present day very soon.
At the end of the day, though, nothing can quite beat the classic red and blue Spider-Man outfit. Still, it's always nice to see Pete change it up every once in a while.