Hello interweb, Nate here. So marvelvarietal at receive grace 2 show grace requested me to review this title and since I personally like to do fan-requested posts I figured why not? So here it is: The Superior Spider-man. If you’d like to request a post (such as a review or Character Bio) than comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Title: The Superior Spider-man
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Dan Slott
Artist(s): Ryan Stegman (#1-3, 9-10, and 17-19), Giuseppe Camuncoli (#4-5, 11-13, 20-21, and 27-31), and Humberto Ramos (#6-8, 14-16, and 22-25)
Issues: 31 + 2 annuals
List of Trades:
- Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy (#1-5)
- Volume 2: A Troubled Mind (#6-10)
- Volume 3: No Escape (#11-16)
- Volume 4: Necessary Evil (#17-21)
- Volume 5: Superior Venom (#22-26 + Annual #1)
- Volume 6: Goblin Nation (#27-31 + Annual #2)
The Superior Spider-man is an interesting series that I ultimately didn’t know how to tackle in a review. I liked the title but it’s so long and there’s so much to talk about that I didn’t know what to talk about first. Should I start by discussing the controversy that this title stirred up first? Or maybe start by talking about it’s writer: Dan Slott; who I have mentioned before on this site is a terrible Spider-man writer and yet managed to produce this story that is by far more superior than anything else he did with the character. Or maybe I should just start by talking about the story itself and get to those things afterwords? How about the last one!
First, a little background. The story takes place right after the 700th issue of The Amazing Spider-man in which Spider-man is facing is long-time enemy: Doctor Octopus aka Doc Ock (he was the main villain of the second Spider-man movie so every one of you should be aware of who he is). The only problem here is that Doc Ock’s body is slowly being destroyed by cancer and he is going to die. So he does what any logical person would do in that situation and builds a machine that causes minds to switch bodies (a very logical decision). Using this machine, Doc Ock manages to switch bodies with Peter Parker/Spider-man so now Spider-man is in Doc Ock’s body and get’s killed while Doc Ock is in Spider-man’s body and is walking around in his skin (Makes sense? Okay). Now that Doc Ock is in Pete’s body, he has access to all of Spider-man’s memories and realizes just how heroic Peter Parker is and how similar they are in a few ways. So he decides he can take over as the new Spider-man, but he believes he can do it better. Hence: The Superior Spider-man.
The premise itself is rather interesting on it’s own: the main character is taken out of commission and replaced with someone who doesn’t know how to be a proper hero à la Knightfall or Death of Superman. Dan Slott plays around with Doc Ock in Spidey’s body basically by making him a more ruthless Spider-man. As the story continues, Doc Ock/Spider-man creates these “spider-bots” which are tiny robotic spiders with cameras in them. These spider-bots are sent all over New York and reports to Doc Ock/Spidey whenever they detect crime. The only problem is Green Goblin (who’s identity is not clear) found out how to hack the spider-bots so that they don’t alert Doc Ock/Spidey of any crime committed by anyone who where’s a goblin mask. The Green Goblin is constantly shown throughout the story exploiting the hack to build a “Goblin Empire” out of New York so that Doc Ock/Spidey doesn’t interfere until it’s too late. The story itself is fun to watch play out and leads to a great climax in the final story arc.
While the final story arc was great, my favorite arc of the entire run is the No Escape(#11-13) story arc. The main villain is the Spider-Slayer (a lesser known Spider-man villain) who manages to upgrade Boomerang, Scorpion, and Vulture and all of them is going after Doc Ock/Spider-man. There was just so much energy and the story was going so fast that I felt like I needed a break after reading it.
The Spider-bots are one thing that Doc Ock use to spy on all of New York but he get’s more and more ruthless and even shows a few villain-like traits the longer he’s Spider-man. Such as blackmailing J. Jonah Jameson (who’s the mayor at the time of this story) into giving him a base he dubs “Spider-Island 2” (Spider-Island 1 is..it’s just..ugh, don’t ask), buying a bunch of henchmen to help him (funded by said blackmailed Mayor JJJ), and designing more tech to help.
Doc Ock doesn’t just change the way he operates as Spider-man but also as Peter Parker. Doc Ock’s ego effects his relationships with Peter’s friends and most of them realizes that something is wrong. This does lead to a break-up between him and MJ and most of Peter’s co-workers (cause Pete’s a scientist now) to start disliking him. Although this does lead into a subplot where Doc Ock learns that Peter never bothered getting his Doctorate and decides to go back to college in order to earn it. While there he enters a physics class and is given a tutor to help pass it. Of course this is Doc Ock we’re talking about (the guy who finds inter-dimensional travel child’s play) so he really doesn’t need it. However, he does begin to develop feelings for his tutor: Anna Maria.
I really like Anna Maria. Giving Doc Ock a love interest was a nice addition and he does begin to fall in love with her; and the fact that she’s a little person makes him a bit more protective of her. She’s really supportive to Doc Ock through is adventure and tries her best to help him out.
Doc Ock really shines in this title as we get to see how he reacts to changing from his villainous ways to become a hero. Granted he’s more of an antihero than a superhero but still. We get to see him grow and while he may be taking the wrong actions it’s made obvious that his heart is in the right place. He is a bit egotistical as he couldn’t stand his physics teacher (who turns out to be one of Doc Ock’s old college friends who he considers to be quite stupid) and he easily got upset when things don’t turn out the way he wants it to. But ultimately, the story is about his redemption and the final story is really touching after everything you’ve gone through with him.
Of course no story out there is 100% flawless and I do have a complaint about this one. For the first nine issues while Doc Ock’s mind is in the driver’s seat of Peter Parker/Spider-man’s body, Peter Parker is still shown to be somewhere in there following Doc Ock like a ghost. He stays there until #9 where Doc Ock uses a machine to permanently (“permanently”) wipe Peter completely out of the body. The thing is, I kinda wish that they never shown Peter following him around as a ghost. While we all known that this wasn’t permanent, it would have been nice for there to be no hints as to Peter Parker’s return. If he was never there than it would have been more questioning on whether or not Peter would actually return.
The art in the series is pretty hit-or-miss to me. This series was coming out bi-weekly so as you can imagine one artist wouldn’t have been enough to get the issues out in time. So they got three artists to do different issues interchangeably. While I realize while this was necessary, it’s kinda distracting when the art suddenly changes between issues. I do have to say that while none of them is bad exactly, but I don’t like how Camuncoli draws Peter Parker. The way he draws Peter kinda makes him look…jerky (if that makes sense). I kinda wish they all drew him as being nerdy (cause that’s how I personally see Peter Parker) but nobody really draws nerdy Peter Parker anymore so I can’t really complain about that.
Like I mentioned earlier, this did cause quite a bit of controversy for obvious reasons. I kinda feel like whatever hate this title was getting initially is no longer there because it’s over and it was really good. Although I didn’t even think this was a bad idea back when the title started. Is this a publicity stunt to get more people to buy it? Yeah, that kinda how the industry works. Heck, that’s what all the insane silver age covers where about. It’s designed to make you go “Oh wow! What’s happening here? I better buy this comic so I know what’s going on!”. In the end, the story ended in a way that I kinda predicted it would prior to even picking this series up at my local library (although that would be spoilers so I’m not going to say here). Everybody knew this wasn’t permanent and as long as it’s not ruining the character than I’m all for shaking things up. That’s part of why I’ve been excited about what’s going on at DC (besides the fact that it’s DC). Decades of story telling means that getting creative can be hard at times, and there’s a huge difference between shaking things up and ruining a character. Ruining a character would be like turning Peter Parker into Tony Starks or Bruce Wayne and giving Spidey a Spider-mobile (*cough**cough*) or having Spider-man make a deal with the devil (*COUGH**COUGH*). Shaking things up is what they’re doing here with giving Doc Ock the driver’s seat of Spider-man’s body for a few issues.
With all that’s said and done I give this story a 5/5. The characters all get emotional depth to them and Doc Ock in particular you can see the changes taking place within him that leads to a great moment near the end of the story.
Well that was a surprisingly good story from Dan Slott of all people. I wonder what happens next…[see picture below]…ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!