Comics : Superior Spider-Man #14

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This review was first published on: Aug 2013.

Background...

2010’s Shadowland was an interesting crossover event that directly involved the so-called “street level” heroes of the Marvel Universe. The story itself was about Daredevil and the Japanese style fortress that he erected in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen. After DD turned into a real life demon, that fortress (and the entire mystical ninja cult known as the Hand) fell under the control of Wilson Fisk, better known as the Kingpin of crime.

When Daredevil’s body was not being controlled by Matt Murdock (sound familiar?), Peter Parker did all he could to persuade his friend to give up his murderous ways and abandon his newly built fortress. Fast forward to the era of the Superior Spider-Man and it seems very unlikely that Doctor Octopus will use such diplomatic means to wrestle control of Shadowland away from the Kingpin.

In Detail...

"A Blind Eye"
Superior Spider-Man #14
Sep 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man takes down Shadowland
Writer:  Dan Slott
Pencils:  Humberto Ramos
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Lettering:  Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
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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Articles: Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin IV (Phil Urich)

The people of Hell’s Kitchen still live in the shadow of the ornate Japanese castle that towers over them. They know that the Kingpin runs his empire from within those walls and they live in constant fear because of it. The Superior Spider-Man knows this too, and he’s about to make a permanent change to Shadowland. As Hobgoblin VI, Fisk and a countless collection of Hand ninjas converse upon the fact that Spider-Man is knocking out all of their competition, a new look Spidey (donning a costume that looks rather similar to the ‘90s Spider-Ben suit) riding a giant Spider robot directly attacks the fortress. Accompanying Spidey is a legion of robot riding henchmen aiding their new boss on his mission.

The Hand immediately attacks Spider-Man and his army, but stand little chance against a Spider-Man who is this superior. Not only has Ock added mobile suits and minions to his arsenal, but his new costume now mimics his Civil War era Iron Spider suit in that it features retractable “tentacles” that can lash out at foes.

During Spider-Man’s all-too-easy battle with the Hand, Ock gets a call from Mayor Jameson accosting him for trying to destroy a New York City building. Jameson’s threats ring hollow on Ock’s ears though. After using a Spider-Bot to record Jameson calling for the assassination of Alistaire Smythe last issue, Spider-Man has been blackmailing his long time tormentor into getting whatever he wants (including full control of the former prison known as the Raft – which he now calls Spider Island Two).

Within the depths of Shadowland, Fisk and the Hobgoblin plan their escape from the unbeatable Spider-Man. In an odd moment of humor, Kingpin locates his sloven body double eating junk food and watching television underneath the depths of his castle. In an attempt to do away with his old identity, Fisk snaps the neck of his double and sets him on fire – which suddenly destroys whatever bit of levity this scene was trying to convey. Once the Hobgoblin realizes that Fisk is planning a similar fate for him, the winged villain makes a prompt escape and finds himself above the flaming remnants of Shadowland. It doesn’t take long for one of Ock’s many Spider-Bots to spot the goblin, but it doesn’t recognize the Hobgoblin as a threat and moves on.

Meanwhile, in the sewers beneath New York, followers of the new Goblin King recruit the remaining Hand ninjas from the rubble of Shadowland. Standing in front of his now enormous collection of minions, the Green Goblin professes himself the “Goblin Kingpin of Crime!”

In General...

I’ve been a major proponent of the Superior Spider-Man experiment almost from the beginning. The series started off so fresh, exciting and even invigorating that it was hard not to be smitten by this crazy concept. The newness of the title has worn off though, and it’s going to take extremely interesting storylines to keep me engrossed in a Doctor Octopus Spider-Man. I loved the first 10 issues, but things have started to stagnate over the last couple of months. This issue in particular feels redundant. Sure, Spidey has all kinds of new toys to play with and he’s even picked up some faceless friends to help him out, but the points that Dan Slott tries to stress on this issue are all points we’ve already gone over. Spider-Man is superior, possibly the most efficient hero there is. We know that he can take down the Kingpin’s entire stronghold without even breaking a sweat. We also know that Otto’s over-confidence is allowing potentially disastrous consequences to bubble right under his nose. These are all details that Slott has been hitting us over the head with since the beginning of the series and it’s starting feel like we’re running in place.

My biggest gripe about this comic may actually be the last couple of pages. We’ve been seeing the Green Goblin round up gang members from across the city for a few issues now, but we’ve seen little development in this subplot since the Goblin King’s first appearance way back in Superior Spider-Man #5. To end the book on a rehashed scene that shows nothing but a mystery villain spouting off things we already know, builds very little anticipation for the coming issue. I’m sure that Slott has a lot of interesting developments in store for this lovechild epic of his; but as it is, things in Doc Ock’s neighborhood are beginning to get a bit repetitive.

Overall Rating...

I’m hopeful that this Shadowland arc will get better as it goes along, but this is a pretty poor start. When it comes to a concept that’s as extreme and controversial as Slott’s Superior Spider-Man, the work needs to be of a consistently high quality or readers are going to jump ship. The all out action of this issue did give artist Humberto Ramos a chance to show off on a number of flashy splash pages. Diehard fans of Ramos will certainly get a thrill out of the big canvases he has to work with, but I felt that a little more storytelling in some of those instances could have gone a long way in making this a more interesting issue.