Comics : Superior Spider-Man #3

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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 dealing with his relationship with Mary Jane Watson by realising they cannot be together and moving on! However, Peter Parker’s consciousness is buried somewhere within Otto and has vowed to get his body back!

In Detail...

"Everything You Know Is Wrong"
Superior Spider-Man #3
Apr 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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Review
Articles: Superior Spider-Man, Vulture I (Adrian Toomes)

Mayor J. Jonah Jameson stands atop a police station with Chief Pratchett and Officer Carlie Cooper and turns on a spider-signal that beams bright into the sky! Spider-Man/Otto Octavius sees it and throws a spider-bot on to it. It immediately shorts out and, as Spider-Man lands on the roof, JJJ launches into a tirade! Spider-Man simply suggests that he passed JJJ’s test (that only an idiot would use a spider-signal to announce his presence!) and gives him a shielded number to reach him on. They have called him to talk about The Vulture and Chief Pratchett assigns Carlie to work with Spider-Man as they did last time (Amazing Spider-Man #674-5). Inside, Spider-Man works on adjusting the lenses on his mask to detect magnetic signatures as Carlie carefully questions him, always remembering what Doctor Octopus said about being Spider-Man (in Amazing #700). Ghost Peter has appeared during this and it seems that his voice is getting stronger and that Otto can nearly hear him.

Spider-Man swings to track Vulture down, reminiscing about his earliest interaction with Vulture during their first outing as The Sinister Six. Ghost Peter is able to partake in these memories too and they both recall that all The Vulture always wanted was one big payoff.

Inside The Vulture’s lair, the three Vulture minions arrive back with the results of another robbery. Spider-Man flies in and offers him a proposition: a giant payoff and a chance to walk about from his life of crime. Vulture knows that Spider-Man is toying with him and signals his minions to attack! Spider-Man, whilst fending off the minions, tries to explain that he is being serious! He hits the minions known as Gully, whose mask flies off! Beneath is a child!

Otto and Ghost Peter experience another of Otto’s memories. As a child, Otto was beaten by his father!

Spider-Man is utterly disgusted and, having seen The Vulture for what he truly is for the first time, he vows to stop him at any cost! Vulture takes off and Spider-Man follows but soon learns that Vulture has upgraded his technology! High above the city, Spider-Man’s webbing runs out, leaving him in a deadly headlock from which Vulture plans to kill him! Spider-Man manages to tap his chest spider and activates Plan Epsilon Two which diverts power to the inactive spider-signal and triggers his mask lenses to polarise! Suddenly the spider-signal surges with a powerful light beam that catches Spider-Man and Vulture right in its path! Vulture is blinded as Spider-Man sends him crashing into the spider-signal with a massive explosion! Carlie, who has come on to the roof, is shocked by Spider-Man’s actions as Vulture is blinded, burned and cut to pieces! Otto realises that he’s played his part badly and, using Peter’s memories of the last time he took on Vulture, explains to Carlie that he was using children and that he had to know what kind of Spider-Man he is dealing with. Ghost Peter has appeared and is shocked to find Vulture as he is and that, god help her, Carlie knows the truth!

In General...

This is the first issue in the new run where the pace has been awkward. As Dan Slott transports Ghost Peter and Otto through each Otto’s memories, there are more than a few jolts and pauses in pace that really distract from the main action. Once again, it seems, the antics of Ghost Peter are the weakest aspect of the title and stop Otto from flourishing as a character. Still questions remain regarding how Peter is around, what control he has over Otto and, now, how he remains paused in Otto’s memories. I’m sure it will all be explained as Slott has always written himself out of character pickles before… but I need answers.

Even the art fails to depict these scenes of memory as visually different from the present. I don’t blame Ryan Stegman, who once again delivers some dynamic work, but the colouring. I think there is an attempt at different hues but this could have been so much more obvious and it would have made the transition between reality and memory better.

Stegman’s art is much the same as last issue – nicely scratchy, full, detailed and delivers the action incredibly well. The little nods to the new technologies Otto uses and the double-page of Vulture flying Spidey around are particular highlights of mine. This last one finally gives Stegman a chance to show off his more intricate panel designs. More of this (as Marcos Martin and Humberto Ramos would produce) please!

Slott gets a better balance of character this time around. There’s not too much Ghost Peter and a little more Otto, allowing for this quite dramatic scene with Vulture that develops his actions and reactions a little more than the quite simple beating Boomerang took in #1.

In fact, even in the four scenes Ghost Peter is in, he doesn’t have much of an impact on our insight into the story. Otto, on the other hand, owns each panel he is in and, with Slott correctly referring to his childhood and bringing some interesting continuity into play (Otto being hit as a child and an early unseen conversation with Vulture), it gives me a little of that sense of responsibility I’ve been looking for. I can’t say I still quite understand why Otto remains as Spider-Man and feels responsible to do so, but his actions this issue are fully justified thanks to Otto’s back story. As Slott cleverly explores the relationship between Otto and Vulture again, it is all done as if looking at people for the first time.

Overall Rating...

This opening arc is one that isn’t quite a misfire but doesn’t get the juices flowing either. I like that there has only been a loose overarching story and that each issue has tackled a different aspect of this new character and the match of writer and artist has been a strong one. There have been some great concepts and ideas (such as the technology and relationships with supporting characters) but then Ghost Peter came along and got in the way. Otto as Spider-Man turns out to be a fascinating proposition for the short term, but Slott hasn’t truly given him, and the idea, a chance yet as Peter is back already.