Comics : Superior Spider-Man #24

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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: Apr 2014.

Background...

Things you need to know:
1. The Superior Spider-Man 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. This last part hasn’t gone down well with Aunt May who has questions over the fact that Anna is a little person.
2. Yuri Watanabe (aka The Wraith) is investigating Carlie Cooper’s disappearance and discovers that she warned MJ to stay away from Peter Parker.
3. Carlie has been kidnapped by the Green Goblin who has learned that Doctor Octopus is Spider-Man! She refuses to give up Spider-Man’s identity. Green Goblin continues his domination of the criminal underground by avoiding Spider-Man spider-bots.
4. Mayor JJJ has had enough of Spider-Man and has commissioned Alchemax (Liz Allen’s company) to build Spider-Slayers for him. Spider-Man 2099 happens to work there.
5. Flash Thompson, Spider-Man’s biggest fan, is Agent Venom and is bonded to the now-controlled Venom symbiote. But, when they meet, Spider-Man manipulates Flash into Parker Industries and removes the symbiote… only for it to break free and join with him to create… The Superior Venom!

In Detail...

Superior Spider-Man #24
Feb 2014 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 of "Darkest Hours"
Writer:  Christos Gage, Dan Slott
Pencils:  Humberto Ramos
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Lettering:  Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Antonio Fabela, Edgar Delgado, Vero Gandini
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)

In Parker Industries, The Superior Venom recovers as Dr Wirtham (Cardiac) and Flash Thompson (Venom) try to coerce the symbiote back. Superior Venom lashes out at them, injuring them both! He bursts through the med-lab door and out into the city!

Having never felt the amount of power the symbiote provides before, Peter/Ock is determined to control it. He contacts his Spider-minions at Spider-Island to report any crime so that he can show off his new power and control.

Across town, The Bruin (a super-criminal in a bear costume) has robbed an armoured truck! Hobgoblin flies in to retrieve his cut but, once he’s swiped the money, unmasks to reveal himself as The Green Goblin!

At Parker Industries, Sajani has patched up Dr Wirtham and tells both he and Flash that they aren’t going anywhere. She tells Flash that, after conducting tests, his body has become reliant upon the symbiote and, with it gone, he may have only hours to live!

The Superior Venom reigns down fury on all and any crime! He is interrupted by a call from Anna Maria who is upset and needs to see him.

In Roderick Kingsley/Hobgoblin’s safe house, he is furious that his franchises are failing. He calls The Bruin, Blaze and Devil-Spider and demands that the make up for what the Green Goblin stole!

Peter arrives at Anna Maria’s apartment and consoles her. She worries that her physical status upset Aunt May. Peter tells her not to worry…

In the Goblin Underground, Green Goblin removes his Hobgoblin costume and demands an update on Carlie Cooper. Carlie stands fast under torture so Green Goblin sprays her with goblin formula!

MJ is on her way up to May’s apartment but Peter arrives first. He begins berating Aunt May for her treatment of Anna Maria. Jay tries to stop him but May agrees that she may have been in the wrong. She says that Peter doesn’t tell her anything anymore and, after her abduction by Blackout, she forbids Peter from working with Spider-Man! Peter is about to explode with rage when MJ pulls him on to the balcony and demands to know what is wrong with him! Peter gets a call regarding a diamond heist and tells MJ to make excuses for him. MJ refuses and yells at him… so he reveals himself to be The Superior Venom and tells her that if she crosses him there will be consequences! Captain Yuri Watanabe charges into the apartment as MJ screams! Watanabe demands to know where Peter Parker is. MJ says that Spider-Man took him but it doesn’t add up. Watanabe places MJ under arrest!

Over in the Diamond District, The Bruin, Blaze and Devil-Spider are met by a livid Superior Venom! MJ arrives at the 18th Precinct and demands a phone call. She dials a special number and anonymously explains that Spider-Man has been taken over by the Venom symbiote. The Avengers tells her not to worry… they will handle it!

In General...

Once again, Dan Slott and Christos Gage deliver an issue full of progression, advancements and detail. There are some excellent references to previous plots, other stories and the recent Superior Spider-Man Annual #1 (something that always gets the geek going) and there is an impressive array of characters to explore but, again, all of this comes at a price.

I don’t know whether to hammer this point too hard, as I don’t know the answer, but there still remains far less involvement in the Venom plot than everything else going on. The crux of this issue is actually the scene at Aunt May’s apartment and, unfortunately I have completely forgotten about Flash’s plight or the fact that’s there’s a Superior Venom running around. A better balance of both would mean that both symbiote action and support cast emotion could both shine through.

As it is, the scene where we finally get some decent interaction between an angry Ock/Peter and the more traditional supporting cast gives us high quality emotional reactions that the series has sometimes lacked. May is sorry but challenging, MJ is honest, shocked, threatened and weak and Ock/Peter is determined, evil, furious and dismissive of others. These 5 pages are awesome.

That the focus moves away from Venom here must be intentional but leaves me wondering why the symbiote is even here. Other than giving Humberto Ramos some killer panels and the selling point of there being a Superior Venom character, the symbiote has done nothing to drive the story forward so far. With one issue left of this arc, I’m expecting a decent showing of thought bubbles and feeling next issue to allow the symbiote’s hold on Spidey to be fully mined.

The acceleration of the MJ/Watanabe plot is exciting and well-executed. The phone call at the end of the issue is inspired and sets up a continuation of Superior Spidey’s story with the Avengers. And then there’s the Carlie subplot! Talk about regaining interest all of a sudden! But it still all leads to the future and there is not enough now for my liking.

When Superior Venom is on page, Ramos knows he’s killing it! It’s the level of detail he offers that is remarkable. Just have a look at the weirdly worried face when he takes Anna’s phone call, a look at the shape of white webbing lines across the mask and a look at the double page splash. Great stuff. But my favourite panel has to be Peter’s face when he yells “WHAT?” and Aunt May! Ock screams through the expression and is a glorious hark back to over-the-top villainy and snarling faces of old-school bad guys! Well done, Humberto!

Overall Rating...

Much the same as last issue really. There's sub-plots afoot but at the detriment of The Superior Venom.