Comics : Superior Spider-Man #22

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This story is part of an Arc: "Darkest Hours"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This review was first published on: Dec 2013.

Background...

A dying Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus swapped bodies with Peter Parker/Spider-Man and became the Superior Spider-Man!

He has a merciless reputation, has his own henchmen and has developed spider-bots to patrol the city for him. He recently blackmailed Mayor J Jonah Jameson into giving him The Raft (now called Spider Island) and has taken upon himself, as Peter Parker, to establish Parker Industries. His social life is just as progressive – he is currently dating fellow scientist Anna Marconi.

His ex-girlfriend, Carlie Cooper, has recently discovered the link between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus but has been kidnapped by the Green Goblin and his agents!

Flash Thompson, Spider-Man’s biggest fan and Peter Parker’s friend, knows nothing of this. But then Peter doesn’t know that Flash is actually Agent Venom and has bonded to the now-controlled symbiote. Spider-Man and Agent Venom have never met… until #22!

In Detail...

Superior Spider-Man #22
Jan 2014 : SM Title
Arc: Part 1 of "Darkest Hours"
Writer:  Christos Gage, 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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Review

Agent Venom joins his ex-girlfriend Betty Brant as she spies on a gang of Crime Master’s men stealing weaponry from the West Side Train Yard. Considering the latest incarnation of Crime Master was actually Betty’s brother and was killed by her, she’s a little worried! Flash tells Betty to take his Mom and leave… whilst he handles this in own way!

It is the first day at work for Parker Industries! After a stirring (though slightly military) speech, Peter Parker and “Junior Partner” Sajarni Jaffrey take a tour of the facilities. Peter spots Jay Jameson’s car and realises that he and Aunt May are on site and rushes to meet them. He joins them, and Elias Wirtham (aka Cardiac), as they tour the medical facilities. Peter takes this opportunity to announce that he has made a breakthrough in cybernetic technology and that Aunt May will soon be walking without a cane again.

At Carlie Cooper’s apartment, Captain Yuri Watanabe is looking for clues regarding Carlie’s disappearance. She finds the apartment ransacked and all the evidence proving that Spider-Man is Doctor Octopus missing. Yuri plans on digging a little deeper… as The Wraith!

Aunt May and Jay leave Parker Industries and Peter goes to see Anna Maria. With a holographic of bioluminescent fish surrounding them, Peter asks her if she would meet his parents. He has realised that he needs to grab opportunities whilst he can and Anna agrees, kissing him and pulling him to the floor!

The Spider-minions on Spider-Island learn of the fight between Venom and Crime Master and alert Spider-Man of the news. Having interrupted him, Spider-Man is less than pleased but directs his men and arachnauts to meet with him. On the scene, Spidey switches gauntlets as he radios Chief Pratchett. Pratchett is happy for Spidey to proceed and apprehend, but only with permission from Mayor J Jonah Jameson.

JJJ takes the call in his office and angrily agrees. He contemplates how to undo Spider-Man’s influence over him and comes up with an idea.

At The Docks, Venom is winning when Spider-Man crashes in! Crime Master immediately unmasks and surrenders, having bought the Crime Master identity and franchise from Roderick Kingsley (Hobgoblin) and getting more than he bargained for! Spider-Man ignores him and turns on Venom, blasting him with fire from his gauntlets! Venom kicks himself for thinking that Spider-Man knew who he was. Spider-Man blasts him with sonic webbing, which causes the symbiote to fall from Venom’s face, revealing him to be Flash. Flash explains who he is but our Superior Spider-Man doesn’t care and stands ready to kill him!

In General...

As I find with every issue of this title, there is an abundance of forward momentum. The slowest arc so far has been No Escape and that was hardly slow! Dan Slott, with Christos Gage, bring about new ideas and concepts for the characters this issue, but the most striking is that of Parker Industries. This is perfect progression for Peter Parker as he now is able to call upon minions under both identities and it keeps in line with the scientific direction he’s been heading in since Big Time. Combine this subplot with that of Peter’s relationship with Anna, JJJ’s blackmailing and Carlie and Yuri’s discoveries and you’ll see why this issue doesn’t seem like the start of an arc but merely another driven episode in the Superior Saga!

I wonder when subplots start paying off?

Slott and Gage drop in the necessary exposition for Venom’s appearance to be adequately explained and for Parker Industries to be established but the rest is all go. There is a little time dedicated to Peter and Anna, but I can’t say I really care for this particular story line. She’s likely to be killed soon to push Spidey over the edge, but they’re not going to have me convinced that she’s a character to be missed. Asides from that, the pace is relentless and builds to a predictable but well-delivered action sequence.

The thing I love best about this final fight with Spidey and Venom is that I want Venom to win. We’re even given insight into his thoughts during this sequence and not Spidey’s. A clever set up of things to come? If not, it’s a nice contrast to have a combatant who you root for. It is clear that this action sequence isn’t over though and perhaps there should have been a little more meat on the cliffhanger.

Artistically, Humberto Ramos nails every aspect of this issue. I loved his work back on Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 2) and in Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 when he drew Venom and here, having another crack at the character it is clear that he is perfect choice for this arc. His actions sequences are stunning, his character work is defined and clean and he doesn’t put a foot wrong when delivering detail, scope and every necessary aspect of telling the story. My only criticism is the cover, where Spidey looks as flat as a pancake.

Overall Rating...

A strong start to the arc but the ending was a little predictable.