Comics : Superior Spider-Man #25

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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...

The Superior Spider-Man 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.

Yuri Watanabe (aka The Wraith) is investigating Carlie Cooper’s disappearance and discovers that she warned MJ to stay away from Peter Parker. She has arrested MJ as part of her investigations!

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 so is sprayed with goblin formula!

Flash Thompson, Spider-Man’s biggest fan, is Agent Venom and was bonded to the now-controlled Venom symbiote. But, when they meet, Spider-Man ends up bonded to the symbiote to create The Superior Venom and leaves Flash fighting for his life!

Superior Venom is on a mission to eradicate all crime in the city and he comes face-to-face with Hobgoblin’s villainous crew. Little does he know that MJ has called the Avengers in to help get rid of the symbiote once and for all!

In Detail...

Superior Spider-Man #25
Mar 2014 : SM Title
Arc: Part 4 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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Issue
Review
Articles: Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn)

Superior Venom takes out The Bruin, Devil Spider and The Blaze (Hobgoblin’s lackeys) but is met by Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Spider-Woman and Black Widow: The Avengers!

Seeing his franchises failing, Hobgoblin activates Steeplejack, Tumbler and Ringer to get to work!

Superior Venom is just about holding his own against The Avengers! He uses Thor’s lightning attack against him and then calls for reinforcements.

On Spider-Island, the spider-minions leap into action, scrambling towards the scene of the battle. From the rafters, Goblin Knight (Phil Urich) spies and studies their manoeuvres. He feeds back the information to Green Goblin.

In the Goblin Underground, Menace (Lily Hollister) is busy doing a goblin makeover on Carlie Cooper now that the goblin formula has had its effect. Menace christens her… Monster! Green Goblin is proud and demands that she tell him who Spider-Man is. Monster refuses until she knows who he is. Goblin pronounces that he is Norman Osborn… but he, in turn, refuses to take his mask off. Green Goblin tells Menace to put Monster to the test!

Iron Man is on the way to assist The Avengers but Captain America re-routes him to find and save Flash Thompson and find out if he can help them win this fight!

Iron Man arrives at Parker Industries to find Flash and Dr Wirtham (Cardiac) being tended to by Sajarni. He patches Wirtham up and works on a plan.

New York begins seeing images of Superior Venom’s fight against The Avengers and rebellion begins! They smash up the spider-bots and turn against Spider-Man once again!

On the rooftops, Steeplejack, Tumbler and Ringer are attacked by Menace and Monster! Monster proves her loyalty to the Green Goblin when she smashes Steeplejack unconscious against a car! They fly off and Goblin Knight, spying for Green Goblin once again, reports that Monster is one of them. He kills Steeplejack with his flaming sword and tells Hobgoblin, who he knows is watching, to surrender!

Superior Venom is no longer restraining himself! Tony Stark arrives and distracts Superior Venom as Iron Man attacks from behind! Iron Man is being piloted by Flash Thompson who calls the symbiote back to him! The symbiote, however, does not want to leave its superior host! Otto is shocked to realise that the symbiote has bonded and has full control over him! He feels himself slipping away… until the imprint of Peter Parker reappears and forces the symbiote off! Otto believes he did it himself, so Peter resolves to lay low until his opportunity arises. The symbiote returns to Flash’s control and Spider-Man stands facing The Avengers. He thinks quickly and thanks them for saving him, explaining that he’s been under the symbiote’s influence since Venom Vol. 2 #4!

The Goblin’s reconvene underground and are contacted by Hobgoblin. He accepts the challenge that Green Goblin throws down and the War of the Goblins begins!

Aunt May and Jay meet MJ as she is release by Captain Yuri Watanabe. She flees in a taxi, offering them little explanation or solace.

Upon returning home, she is met by Peter who explains the whole thing. She is thankful that he is back. Otto knows that if he’s got her fooled, The Avengers bought it too…!

He Avengers did not buy it! At Avengers Tower, Tony Stark investigates the test results from Superior Spider-Man #8 and learns that they have been erased… by Spider-Man! Time to bring him in!

In General...

An extra-sized issue brings an extra-sized story. With 16 or so pages dedicated to The Avengers vs. Superior Venom, there is time for clear progression in several subplots and there are some great build up moments for the closing arc of this title. It may be worth truly enjoying those 16 pages as well, as this could very well be the final time Spidey is involved with The Avengers.

Peter Ghost’s return is actually fairly surprising but shouldn’t be. It is surprising because Otto has been involved in some predicaments as Spider-Man since Peter Ghost disappeared and this particular one (the symbiote taking over) isn’t written with enough fear, emotion and tension to justify his return at this point. I can see why he returns but it is a stretch to buy that the symbiote is enough of a threat. It is a lot to ask, amidst the crammed plot, but I though Dan Slott and Christos Gage could have squeezed in a few more though boxes, or tense moments of internally battling the symbiote, to have us a little more worried.

The best moment of the issue comes when The Avengers, much like us, aren’t buying into Otto’s crap any more. Harking back to Venom (Vol. 2) #4 even got me scratching my head to recall what happened and is a completely genius swerve for Slott and Gage to pitch. In a nice nod to the complete Avengers involvement in Superior, they also pick up on the issue that many readers had with #8 when the scans were completed and nothing was found.

Peter Ghost being back, the Green Goblin/Hobgoblin clash, the emergence of Monster (!), the ongoing plotting of the Green Goblin (and his increasing page count), Hobgoblin’s continued involvement in the action, the police investigation and The Avengers closing scene all continue my ever-loved subplots but, and I keep coming back to this, at a detriment to the main story. I still feel a little sorry for Flash, but it is clear from Venom’s cancellation that the character has little potential left so why not just have him exit this arc the same as when he entered.

On the plus side, everything looks amazing. Ok, the fight sequences are a little busy and there’s not much evidence of simplifying panels for affect when things are getting busy, but Humberto Ramos creates the necessary wow and delivers a consistent set of many characters across all 30 pages. I loved Monster’s face, hate her costume… but he created Superior Venom’s look so I can’t complain!

Overall Rating...

With everyone firing on all cylinders for a massive issue, there are still stumbles in the story and some wasted opportunities to get closer to perfection.