Comics : Superior Spider-Man #2

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This review was first published on: Feb 2013.

Background...

Peter Parker is dead and Otto Octavius, Doctor Octopus, has stolen his body, his memories and his identity as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Before he died, Peter taught Otto the lesson of great power and great responsibility using his memories. Otto vowed to Peter to continue as a Superior Spider-Man. He proved this by taking down a new Sinister Six with ease and beginning dating Mary Jane Watson again! In proving himself superior, Otto nearly crosses the line Peter swore he never would cross and nearly kills Boomerang. Peter Parker’s consciousness, buried somewhere within Otto, stops him and, appearing as an apparition, vows to get his body back!

In Detail...

"The Peter Principle"
Superior Spider-Man #2
Mar 2013 : SM Title
Writer:  Dan Slott
Artist:  Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
Executive Editor:  Tom Brevoort
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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Issue
Review
Articles: The Living Brain, Superior Spider-Man, Vulture I (Adrian Toomes) (BTS)

Spider-Man (Otto Octavius) delivers the stolen barometric oscillator to the Marla Jameson wing of Empire State University. He is met by dozens of reporters, the Dean of Students and J. Jonah Jameson, who thanks him for his work and announces that he may have been wrong about him! Ghost Peter is livid that all this is happening over his dead body!

Carlie Cooper and Mary Jane Watson share a coffee. Something Doctor Octopus said before he died is bothering Carlie but she’s completely distracted when MJ announces that she and Peter/Otto may be getting back together!

Peter/Otto heads for lunch with “the Watson woman” with Peter’s ghost watching over them. Ghost Peter continues to be livid that MJ can’t figure out that Peter/Otto is speaking like a supervillain! A fire truck blazes past and, after a reminder, Peter/Otto leaves to go be a begrudging Spider-Man!

Peter/Otto busies himself in Horizon, with The Living Brain as his minion, making a new spider-bot. He orders The Living Brain to follow the specs and make 800 more!

Peter/Otto goes for lunch with MJ again and announces that he doesn’t need to patrol any more as his spider-bots are patrolling for him. He is linked to them via an app and is now smarter, more efficient… and has more time to spend with MJ!

Date One: The planetarium and a peck on the cheek. Results = inconclusive.
Date Two: Ballroom dancing and a peck on the cheek. Results = disappointing.
Date Three: Ice staking at Rockefeller and a peck on the cheek. Results = Infuriating!
Date Four: Dancing at MJ’s club. Peter/Otto and Ghost Peter suddenly feel their spider-sense going off (due to the weird mini Vulture minions staking the place out!). Peter/Otto suddenly figures out how to get MJ’s attention and invites her on to the rooftop! Ghost Peter urges her not to go but she follows and they go web-swinging together! Results = Success! Peter/Otto drops MJ off at her apartment, knowing that it is the spider element of Peter’s life that MJ needed. Carlie turns the light on and surprises Peter/Otto so he leaves without even a peck this time…! He suddenly realises that he can be with MJ any time by accessing Peter’s memories! Ghost Peter is repulsed as Otto takes a trip through all of Peter’s physical experiences with MJ!

In the morning, Peter/Otto wakes up refreshed and fulfilled. Ghost Peter vows he will pay and continues to be disgusted as Peter/Otto goes to Horizon and starts hitting on Sajani! In his lab, Peter/Otto’s app goes off as a spider-bot signals and displays live images of MJ’s as it comes under attack by the Vulture minions! They tear into a safe as Peter/Otto launches across the city to save her! The Vulture minions grab MJ when she tries to stop them and throw her out of the window!

Peter/Otto arrives and fires a web-net, saving her just in time! In response, MJ is about to kiss Peter/Otto but he stops her. He realises that she can’t just love Peter or Spider-Man because she loves them both and that this can never be resolved. He explains that the only way to keep her safe, to free her… is to move on. He swings away. Ghost Peter acknowledges that he was wrong about Otto and that he’s a stronger man than he…

MJ tells Carlie about this later and Carlie becomes even more suspicious of Peter, recalling what Doctor Octopus said to her in Amazing Spider-Man #700. She wants to get back to work… to solve another mystery…

In General...

Interesting stuff once again from Dan Slott and the Superior Spider-Man in an issue that answers some questions, and raises more, and solves some problems, and raises more!

Slott’s decision to address the MJ situation, which was cruising into unnecessary and uncharacteristic territory, is a good one and her removal is for the better. Slott writes both Otto and Peter well as the former dismisses her rationally and the latter is actually grateful for it, as are we. This is another example of the superiority at its best. Where the technology was the superior last issue, this decision is the thing here. Does this overcome the issues of responsibility I had last issue? No… as Otto’s pursuit of MJ is morally wrong and the problems of relating to him still remain.

Slott gives us a nice taste Otto’s voice this issue, developing the humour a lot further as we hear and respond how Ghost Peter does. The major issue, and I can’t really believe I’m writing this, is that we don’t need to hear how Ghost Peter is responding and that, in fact, he gets in the way. We’re intelligent enough to know that what Otto is saying is funny without Ghost Peter pointing it out. Peter Parker ends up being the weak link in this issue and his interfering voice breaks the flow of dialogue, the flow of panels and is like an unexplained, annoying buzz in your ear that tries too hard to be funny. I need to know how this whole Ghost Peter thing works quickly and he needs to be used sparingly to give Otto’s unique voice and take on all things Spidery a chance.

For example, Slott finally hints at exploring some of the known relationships that Spider-Man has with heroes and villains alike with his set up for The Vulture’s appearance next issue. As seen in the very successful Avenging Spider-Man, this potential for awkwardness and freshness is a highlight of this new status quo and there are thousands of interesting prospects lining up to be explored. The interactions with the close supporting cast, especially Carlie, will deal with a lot of the serious sides of these problems, but I see there being more fun in the hero/villain avenues. Here’s hoping Ghost Peter doesn’t get in the way here either.

Ryan Stegman’s work remains clear and dynamic, and he does his absolute best with inserting Ghost Peter into most panels. There are a lot scratchier and less-polished pencils here compared to #1. Fans of Stegman’s work on Scarlet Spider will see a difference and probably not appreciate it, but the scope, storytelling and detail is still great.

Overall Rating...

There are some improvements, but there are also some new problems.