Superior Spider-Man

Apr 23, 2014 | Posted by in Comics

Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man comic series has just come to an end so I thought I would do a write up of the last issue as well as talk a little about the series as a whole. Spoilers are sure to follow so if you haven’t read it and don’t want to know what happens then close this page now.

Superior Spider-Man #31

The issue picks up where the last one left off, when Spidey -this time with Peter driving- has changed into his old costume and is ready to try and sort out this Green Goblin inspired mess. Along the way he reunites with Carlie Cooper and Miguel O’Hara who are quick to accept his explanation of what happened. This all makes sense since strange stuff like this happens all the time in the world they live in. I am glad there was no shock when Peter explains it.

As a finale this works beautifully, I really liked how Peter settled right back into his heroics as if he’d never been away. He took the surprises that were thrown at him in his stride and got on with what needed done. I especially like the way that he interacted with Miguel O’Hara’s Spider-Man 2099, the two of them work very well together and their team-up is a very natural one. Another great moment is when he was faced with his old enemy The Green Goblin and was recognised as no longer being Octavius instantly, it really says a lot about the history these two adversaries have -even if Osborn can’t quite remember why he killed Gwen Stacy-. There was a nice throwback to Gwen’s death when he saves Anna Maria by using knowledge that he learned after that tragic event, Peter has grown as a person and as a hero. I really like that his intelligence shines through. The Parker guilt is in evidence here as well as he laments the fact that in order for him to come back Doc Ock had to die which is something that will prey on Peter’s mind forever.

I thought the twist around Norman Osborn was interesting where he has had cosmetic surgery and has changed his name to Alchemax Executive Mason Banks in an effort to build a secure future for his grandson Normie. It’s fitting that in his own twisted way Norman is still looking out for his family, slightly disappointing that there’s no mention of Harry in these proceedings. It was clever how Peter used the software that Norman had installed in Ock’s Spider-Bots preventing the recognition of Goblins on patrol against him. A cured Norman Osborn is another interesting development, it seems like he might be a little crazier now that he has all of his faculties, I look forward to this plot point returning at a later date.

The wrap up where he speaks to Aunt May, her husband Jay and Mary Jane was excellent, naturally he has to lie to his aunt and her husband due to the fact that they don’t know that he’s Spider-Man so he paints Spider-Man as some sort of sinister figure who was basically extorting him. I’m not entirely sure that this is the best course of action for Peter to take but the explanation seems to appease them for now. In true Peter Parker fashion this will come back to bite him later but he does make mistakes, that’s part of what makes him interesting. I also really liked that Mary Jane seems to have finally had enough of the persistent danger that Peter brings to her, she acknowledges that it isn’t entirely his fault but all the same she can’t deal with it any more. I loved that Peter understood and agrees to leave her be for her own good. Mary Jane also suggests the same to Carlie who seems to agree with her. Peter is fundamentally a good person and this absolutely shines through here, there’s no way he can disagree with Mary Jane on this and accepts it gracefully.

I really liked the conversation he had with Jameson who now sees Spider-Man as more than a menace, instead Jameson sees him as a sociopath and a sadist who blackmails and manipulates just because he can. This will definitely be a whole new relationship between the two of them that might have Jameson be more active in trying to bring Spidey down, him resigning from the Mayor’s office also shows a massive status quo shift. Where will Jameson go next? I’m intrigued to find out.

Overall, this was a fantastic ending. The issue was well paced with some great action and character moments. Peter Parker is more himself than ever in the suit and is clearly loving being alive again. There were some great references to times gone by with more than one mention of Gwen Stacy -another turning point in Spider-Man history- and some great references to the well played out battle between Spidey and The Green Goblin. Peter has a lot to learn about the life that Ock lived in his stead and there’s a lot of bridges that have been burned, for instance the above mentioned J. Jonah. Jameson interaction. My only real criticism is that Doc Ock’s presence was non existent here despite the fact that his consciousness has carried this book for the entire run, his influence was felt with the Goblin cure and some other things but he didn’t have a single line of dialogue here, I know it was wrapped up last issue but I found it to be a shame. I don’t often comment on artwork but there were some striking images here, I really liked the riff on Mary Jane’s “Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot” pose when she was telling Peter that she couldn’t continue with him in her life any more. Seeing two Spider-Men swing into action was another great image to see. I loved this book and I have to say I will miss Doc Ock but I am really looking forward to Amazing Spider-Man to see how Peter will handle the fact that he has a company as well as the myriad of other things that Ock has done in his name.

The series overall

Superior’s early look
dark and foreboding with Ock goggles

There has been a lot of scepticism surrounding this comic series since before it even existed and quite rightly so, to take the character of Spider-Man and change him so fundamentally was a ballsy move and one that could quite easily not have paid off. The potential existed for this to turn out worse than One More Day and to be ignorant of that fact would be short sided.

I will start by saying that Dan Slott and his team absolutely delivered when doing this series, it wasn’t treated as a cash grab publicity stunt and instead was given the care, attention and respect that such a risky story needs. Having Doctor Octopus inhabit Peter Parker’s body and continue his career as Spider-Man was not something that ever bothered me because, as an avid reader of comic books for pretty much my entire life I had no doubt in my mind that this was temporary so I treated it as such, a fun diversion from the norm for a while that was telling an interesting story. All the hate and anger was misplaced in my opinion because why would anyone think there was cause for this to be permanent? Do people not know how comics work?

I’m not saying that undoing this was cowardly because it certainly wasn’t, it was just time for the story to end -timed to coincide with the theatrical release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 no doubt- and for Peter Parker to return to his world. To be honest I would have loved another year or more of Doc Ock in Peter’s body because I don’t think all of the potential for storytelling was used up here, not by a long way.

Most body switching stories don’t go into as much depth as this one did for largely obvious reasons, the body switch often doesn’t last long enough to do too much with it so I was kind of expecting Ock to act slightly different and offend/upset a number of people but having nothing really change in the grand scheme of things. I’m glad that the opposite was true, Ock changed everything about Peter’s life by getting him a PHD, his own company, a lair, henchmen, increasing his crimefighting potential, a new girlfriend, having him accepted by Jameson -at least for a little while- as well as so many other things. The lair and henchmen angle was something that particularly interested me because it was as if a supervillain decided to be a hero but still used the methods that a supervillain might use. It was all very in character for Doc Ock to act this way and use these methods.

Ock kills in Peter/Spidey’s name

Ock was also a changed man throughout and was fighting for redemption in his own way. For a while he stuck to Peter’s methods but quickly found his own way by finding justification in killing his enemies and just being unspeakably violent the rest of the time -two things that will mark Spider-Man’s reputation forever. His technology was used to protect people and his intellect was used to devise better ways of protection people, it was all great stuff. I really liked how the pattern of speech changed which was noticed by many people, things like calling people “dolt” or other Doc Ock phrasing when talking to others. Another thing I loved was getting a window into Ock’s personality through flashbacks to his troubled childhood, it’s an insight not really seen with this character before and it was a welcome one, goes a long way to explaining why he is the way he is.

Ghost Peter commenting on Ock’s methods

One thing I never really bought into was the inclusion of Peter’s consciousness early on, acting in secret trying to reassert control of his body. It made sense sure but it kind of felt like we as readers were being eased into the world of Superior Spider-Man where I would rather have just got right into it. Peter’s influence disappeared fairly quickly and the story progressed but I for one was willing to accept this right away.

Superior Venom

I liked that the other characters weren’t played as stupid through all of this, pretty much everybody noticed something was amiss even if they couldn’t put their finger on it. It took Carlie to figure out what was wrong before she was captured by The Green Goblin but I liked that The Avengers were aware of a massive change in Spidey’s behaviour and were ready to deal with it accordingly, causing Ock to resign his membership because he didn’t feel that he needed them. There was a nicely timed explanation when he was bonded to the Venom symbiote which gave Ock the excuse he needed for why he was acting so strange. I also liked that his arrogance made him assume that he could control the creature that has tortured and corrupted every one of the hosts it has taken.

The way that it was wrapped up was nice, as I said in my review of issue #30 Ock bowed out heroically and was shown the appropriate level of respect by the creative team that I feel he had more than earned. It’s a shame that he seems gone but this is the Marvel universe so I have no doubt that he will return in some capacity in the future. In case it wasn’t obvious I loved this series and I will miss it now that it’s over but I look forward to some interesting stories featuring our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.

Overall Series Rating