Comics : Superior Spider-Man #1

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This review was first published on: Jan 2013.

Background...

Peter Parker, is dead. In the final few issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus orchestrated his final plan and swapped minds with Peter Parker/Spider-Man! With Peter trapped inside Ock’s dying body, he desperately tried to defeat Otto, swinging around as Spider-Man and reaping the benefits of Peter Parker’s life, and swap their minds back… but to no avail. Before he died, Peter was successful in beaming his experiences and philosophy into Otto, meaning that Otto understood the lesson of great power and great responsibility. Otto vowed to Peter, as he died, to continue as Spider-Man.

Otto now begins a new life as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a better Peter Parker/Spider-Man… a “superior” one!

In Detail...

"Hero Or Menace?"
Superior Spider-Man #1
Mar 2013 : SM Title
Writer:  Dan Slott
Artist:  Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine, Tom Brevoort
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Production:  Manny Mederos
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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Review
Articles: The Big Wheel, Boomerang, The Living Brain, The Shocker, Speed Demon, Superior Spider-Man (1st)

Peter Parker/Otto Octavius visits the grave of Otto Octavius to say goodbye to his old life. From now on he is Peter Parker and, as he hears news of heavy fire at Empire State University, from now on he is Spider-Man!

Announcing themselves as an all-new Sinister Six, Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, Living Brain, Beetle and Overdrive (who is driving the Big Wheel) are in the process of stealing a barometric oscillator from Empire State University! The police try to stop them but it looks like they’re about to escape when the Superior Spider-Man arrives on the scene! He takes out Living Brain easily but gets pounded by Speed Demon! He decides that he’s had enough and starts to swing away! He changes his mind when an exploding boomerang is heading for an unprotected police officer. He dives in front of it and saves him, but as he lies stunned, he can’t work out why he chose to sacrifice himself! Boomerang tries to cut his throat but Spider-Man recovers enough to slash his chest with his new claws! With Spider-Man still recovering from the explosion, Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon and Beetle hop aboard the Big Wheel and they escape. Spider-Man is heralded a hero by the police officers so he asks them if he can have the Living Brain shipped to his “associate” at Horizon Labs…

A short while later, Peter/Otto takes delivery of the robot. Grady Scraps offers to help but Otto accesses Peter’s memories and realises that he’s a liability and says no. Max Modell visits Peter/Otto as he works and discusses Peter/Otto’s work for Spider-Man and the weapons he builds. Peter/Otto shocks Max when he produces a list of the peaceful applications his new technologies have and Max leaves him to his work. Peter/Otto gets frustrated at the fact that all his achievements will now be recognised with Peter Parker’s name but comes to accept that he is Peter Parker now. He gets a phone call from Mary Jane Watson who confirms their date for tonight.

During dinner, Peter/Otto realises that there are benefits to his new situation… as he stares at MJ’s chest! As they eat he listens in on his headset to the Sinister Six’s plan, having injected Boomerang with nano-spider-tracers earlier. Each tracer is fitted with GPS tracking and audio transmitters so he knows that they’re heading for Horizon Labs for an atmospheric condenser. MJ is shocked that Peter/Otto hasn’t done anything about them but he explains that he’s laying a trap. MJ’s isn’t convinced this is a good idea, especially when Peter/Otto starts glugging down the wine!

At dawn, Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, Beetle and Overdrive begin their raid on Horizon! Speed Demon quickly locates the atmospheric condenser but, as they exit, they are confronted by Spider-Man! He has blocked their escape with webbing and has a few tricks up his sleeve! Speed Demon charges so he taps the spider on his chest and initiates Plan Omega Three which causes the pavement to become frictionless (Peter/Otto having created and applied a mixture earlier to the pavement) and Speed Demon to skid over! Spider-Man shoots his webbing at Speed Demon, so accurately that it smashes into his throat, rendering him gagging for breath! Spider-Man’s next ploy is Plan Epsilon Five which activates a power dampening field (also installed by Peter/Otto earlier)! Shocker’s gauntlet’s short out, Beetle is unable use her super strength to lift the atmospheric condenser and Overdrive’s Big Wheel suffers a power failure! Spider-Man webs Beetle, swings her into Big Wheel which crashes on top of Shocker! The press, including Norah Winters, invited by Spider-Man to watch are impressed! Boomerang is bewildered as to how Spider-Man has got the drop on them so much. Spider-Man explains that he pieced together their plan to use the barometric oscillator and atmospheric condenser to create a weather machine. Boomerang gives in but Spider-Man is having none of it! He punches Boomerang repeatedly, smashing his helmet and leaving him a bloody mess! Spider-Man’s about to deliver a killing blow, to send a message to the world, when his hand is stopped! As Boomerang is carted away by the police, Spider-Man wonders why he didn’t kill him. Unbeknownst to him, we see an apparition of Peter Parker standing with him! Peter says that he won’t let Otto kill and ends with “I don’t know how but I am still in the fight! I am Peter Parker. And I swear I will find a way back!”

In General...

At the core of any good Spider-Man story, the following should be explored in some way, shape or form: power, responsibility, science, humour, the supporting cast and his profession. How does Dan Slott, upon part-exchanging the Peter Parker character for a Peter/Otto hybrid, get on with delivering these aspects and selling this new series to old and new readers?

Power: Check! Spider-Man is obviously powerful, but the idea that Otto doesn’t hold back against Speed Demon and Peter may have been holding back all this time, is a unique one.
Science: Check! A strength of the issue is Peter/Otto’s application of science and technology to defeat his foes as Slott does make a solid case for the superiority of this Spider-Man. I love the nano-spider-tracer idea, very clever.
Humour: Check! The Sinister Six is ridiculous and the quirkiness of the choice of characters is brilliant. There’s nothing laugh out loud, but there hasn’t been in a while so Peter/Otto’s expressions, reactions to supporting cast and quirk will do for now.
Supporting Cast: Halfway there. Slott uses the supporting cast to hint at humour and the difficulties Peter/Otto will have, but writes MJ as a complete spanner. It remains to be seen whether she’s figured it all out or not. If she hasn’t, there is some unforgiveable character regression here.
Profession: Check! We see how Peter/Otto is going to use Horizon in the same way Peter previously did.

And now onto the most perplexing one – Responsibility. Nope. I’m still not sold on why Otto wants to be Spider-Man. He’s too arrogant to be responsible and, as a (technically) new Spider-Man we’re being introduced to by Dan Slott, you can’t connect with the character on this level. Peter/Otto has a past you have to consider; Ultimate’s Miles Morales was brand new and you could dedicate more time to him. That’s the first 20 pages. Then the ghost of Peter Parker returns and takes up this mysterious role of the responsible one, keeping Peter/Otto on tow. I have a major issue with Peter being used this way and I’m not even convinced I’m pleased to see him “back” so soon. It undersells the events of #700 and still means that we can’t give Peter/Otto our full attention.

With most of these aspects present, but this major one failing to hit the mark, there’s an awkwardness to this title I can’t ignore. It’s Spider-Man, but not… but not far enough removed to make you truly commit and embrace the “new”.

This aside, #1 reads as a typical Slott script – thorough, well-planned, well-executed and intriguing. Albeit, I don’t like some aspects of the plot, I challenge you to find a hole anywhere here.

Ryan Stegman’s art matches the quirk I mentioned earlier. His prior work on Amazing was ok, his work on Scarlet Spider started off brilliantly and his work here is his best yet. He whisks you through the action sequences with ease, ploughs emotion into his slightly cartoony faces and delivers the fury of Spider-Man’s final few pages with power and speed. As Slott’s plot does, Stegman’s art contains no holes.

Overall Rating...

A short time ago the answer to “Who is Spider-Man?” was “Peter Parker”. This could have applied to both Amazing and Ultimate universes. Think about what the answer would be now and how ridiculous that it would sound to a new reader. Hence the awkwardness.