As we should all know, Otto Octavius took over Peter Parker's body in ASM 700 and is now...the Superior Spider-Man! As the Superior Spider-Man, he has been acting as Peter and (since this issue takes place before Superior Spider-Man #6 in continuity) no one has noticed.
Ultron has taken over Planet Earth. Humanity is pretty much screwed and a small group of heroes are all that's left. They are all hiding out in the ruins of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier in Central Park, trying to come up with a plan to stop Ultron. In Age of Ultron, Otto revealed his identity of Peter Parker to the others and had, apparently, slept through Ultron's takeover.
Spider-Man stands in the tunnel leading out of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, looking out at the wrecked streets of New York City. (Oops! Continuity error! The Helicarrier crashed in Central Park, not in the middle of the street!) The top part of his costume has been torn away and Otto is obviously angry that about the end of the world came and Aunt May and MJ must have died. "The fear they must have felt...All the ways they could have suffered...and I was useless," Otto thinks. "I slept while that...monstrosity grew like a cancer over the city. His city! Ultron! A robot...a machine! And I'm master of machines! I could have stopped this! But I'd exhausted myself, fixing the mess Parker's made of his life."
Otto punches a reflection of himself in the mirror. "This is all your fault!" he yells. Tony Stark walks up to him, "Now you know how the rest of us feel." Otto asks him how he feels about the whole situation, to which he responds, "I don't have an answer Y'know what else we don't have? The luxury of dwelling on it. I want to crawl under a rock and die as much as the next guy. But I'm also a scientist. I still believe that any problem can be solved." (Ah. You gotta love Tony Stark. He's always got a can-do attitude. Where was this where he was about to commit suicide to get away from everything in Avengers vs. X-Men?)
Octavius thinks, "Not by you, imbecile. Parker was a fool to cultivate ties to the Avengers. They made him weak...dependent." He decides that he needs to "get away from these idiots" and "plan countermoves without the distraction of trying to behave like the Spider-Man they know." Otto tells Tony to go away, (just in a much more offensive way) and Tony reveals that he needs his help to get into Horizon, where Sue Richards told him he worked. (Geez. You'd think that Tony would know this already. He's had the job for a year or two in continuity now.)
They walk by Luke and his team, whom, Tony says, is coming up with "a suicide mission" which is "one without an objective." Tony says that, when he was director of S.H.I.E.L.D., he came up with an alternative to a doomsday scenario, which is a device which can be placed around an area and, when activated, transport everything within to the Negative Zone. For it, Tony needs Negative Zone tech to make the control device. He wants Otto to get the tech from Max Modell's lab, which Quicksilver will quickly transport him to. Meanwhile, Quicksilver will drop the devices around the Ultron stronghold without them noticing.
Otto notes that the main Ultron may not even be in the stronghold and they may kill any survivors within. "Is this a hail mary?" Tony asks. "Sure. But we're at the point where that's all that's left. I don't see any other option. Believe me, I know how hard it is to make a call like this, but--" "Let's do it," Otto interrupts.
Outside of Horizon Labs, Quicksilver has dropped Spider-Man next to a fallen military helicopter. Quicksilver tells Otto that he has to get out of Horizon shortly after he has activated the device because he will attract the Ultrons. Otto, obviously frustrated by Quicksilver's underestimation of him, tells him that he may be "the class clown" but he "knows what [he's] doing." Quicksilver says, as he dashes away, "Well, I'm glad that Armageddon seems to have matured you."
Otto remembers how he told his loved ones that, in case of disaster, they should go to Horizon and hopes to find them there. But all hope is lost when he finds that Horizon has obviously been found and partially-destroyed by the Ultrons.
While climbing inside Horizon, Otto spots Max Modell, nothing more than a skeleton now. "Modell was weak and stupid. And now he is dead. I am neither," he thinks to himself. Obviously, he also has no consideration to follow through with the "half-baked schemes of Anthony Stark's alcohol-damaged brain." For, he has everything he needs to "set the world right" on his own.
Otto remembers how, on the only time met Ultron, during Secret Wars, it was under the control of Doctor Doom. "If Von Doom could tame Ultron, it will be a simple matter for me," he thinks. He is planning on using his technology from his octo-bots to take control of the Ultrons to make them "rebuild" civilization. Using what's left of his prior octo-bots, he plans on taking them all over.
Octavius turns on his technology and the Ultrons are immediately alerted. He starts battling three Ultron sentries, claiming to know all of their "weak points." When he uses one's laser to blow up another, a whole other fleet arrives as back-up.
But Otto has his own reinforcements. A bunch of his octo-bots venture over debris to Horizon. Quickly, they latch onto the Ultrons' chests, making them simultaneously spout four robotic arms, now under Ock's control. Using a particular Ultron, Ock heads down to the main Ultron's destination.
"I am coming for you, Ultron," Otto thinks. "Your drones belong to me...and soon your city--your world--will follow."
Octavius ventures through the main Ultron stronghold, taking down any in his path. He then enters the room where Ultron's Central Intelligence is controlling everything. (The Central Intelligence is really shaded and looks little like an actual Ultron. If you want to know who it really is, pick up Age of Ultron #4!) "You took me by surprise the last time, but now...I am in control."
When Otto's sentry touches him, he is brought to a digital battlefield, where a muscular, golden Ultron is towering over him. "Ultron--from the outside? He's not here?" Otto asks. The massive Ultron points his lasers at him and easily blows him up with a mere blast.
On the real battlefield, Otto has lost connection with his Ultron drones. They all rip off the extra arms they had developed during Otto's temporary reign. "Fool...He played me for a fool," Otto thinks. "Lured me to a false battleground...while he lay in wait from some hidden place...But where? It doesn't matter. He had a chance to study me. To prepare defenses. I had my chance...and I failed."
The Ultrons start trying to zap him with their blasts and he runs back into Horizon to get the device to activate Stark's inventions. He rushes to Max Modell's lab to get the dark matter tech, but Ultron "zarks" the device. (Isn't that the most bizarre sound effect you've heard? Zark.) Otto knows that all hope is lost and flings a door at the two Ultrons guarding the exit. "Sonics. I know what this means. It means it's over. It means...I've lost."
As they did to Hammerhead and Owl's base in Age of Ultron #1, the Ultrons assemble and, using a blue light from their chests, blow up Horizon Labs once and for all.
Using hidden tunnels leading from Modell's lab, Otto escapes before Horizon explodes. "I gave it my best. Everything I had. And it was not enough."
When Otto returns to the fallen S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, he finds Tony Stark and Quicksilver, who know he failed. They ask him if the Ultrons got to him before he could activate the device and he confirms that, lying. Stark tells him not to "beat himself up over it" and that "it was a long shot." "It probably wouldn't have worked anyways," he says. Otto puts his hand on his shoulder as he is walking away. "It would have worked."
"This is why Parker always won," Otto thinks. "I treated my allies like lackeys. Extensions of myself. They could never be more effective than I...Only less. They couldn't make me stronger, only weaker. This is...different. As I said before, death does not like to be cheated. But with the right people at your side...It can be defeated."
Otto joins Luke Cage and his group to discuss his plan. (Which happens to be more half-baked than Stark's.)
This was successful as a done-in-one, a tie-in, and character issue. This issue makes Superior Spider-Man's appearances in Age of Ultron click. I entered this book thinking that there would be no consideration for continuity, but Gage does a phenomenal job with clearing everything up in the actual event. Plus. it makes his involvement with the event much more personal.
I also love the character development with Otto. Now only was this issue a hit to his ego, but he has finally learned that he needs to rely on others sometimes. I mean, he hasn't really had much group affiliation other than being in the Sinister Six, a team full of complete idiots, so he doesn't know what a good team of intelligent people are capable of. Also, Gage voices Doc Ock very well. I was actually feeling bad for him when he failed with his attempt to stop Ultron.
Also, other than the little screw-up at the beginning with Central Park, this issue is very well-researched and Gage has been obviously trying to make it fit in with the event as well as possible. I love how he mentioned that Otto has met with Ultron in Secret Wars. I don't think that anybody else would have though of that. Plus, he's obviously been reading in on the actual title.
Looking back on Christos Gage's prior writing, he usually adds excessive dialogue and his stories usually venture off-topic, which mixes the story. Luckily, he keeps his bad habits at bay and balances everything out nicely. Is it me or does it seem like Christos Gage really want to write Spider-Man? I mean, this issue is very top-notch and it seems irregular that a writer would try so hard on one tie-in issue.
While reading this, I suddenly realized...How does this fit into regular Marvel continuity? How will the heroes continue on with such a broken and destroyed world? I can assure you that it isn't permanent. Will they use time travel or something? It's kind of weird to think about, huh?
Last, but not least, Dexter Soy's artwork is beautiful. The regular artists on Superior Spider-Man all have a very cartoony style and it's nice to see Soy's take on Spider-Man. I love how layered his art is, and how enthralling he makes every page. This is probably the best art I've ever seen on a tie-in. I hope that Dexter Soy isn't done with Spider-Man and he does an issue of Avenging Spider-Man or something sometime.
A very good tie-in issue. One of the best featuring Spider-Man. Hopefully, Slott will acknowledge this issue in future issues of Superior Spider-Man.