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. Flash Thompson, Spider-Man’s biggest fan, is Agent Venom and is bonded to the now-controlled symbiote. Spider-Man and Venom’s first meeting results in Spider-Man attacking Venom with all his might and resources! Venom is a force that must be stopped, no matter who is beneath the mask!
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Assistant Editor:||Ellie Pyle|
|Writer:||Christos Gage, Dan Slott|
At the Crime Masters’ warehouse, the police lie in wait. Inside, Flash Thompson/Venom fights back. He releases some gas grenades and is holding his own against Spider-Man and his henchmen until a crate of weapons explodes! The smoke clears and Venom is gone, leaving Spider-Man furious! As the dust settles, the henchmen question the police and themselves, searching for Venom. Spider-Man takes a call from Anna and they arrange a brunch so that she can meet May and Jay. In the Goblin Underground, Green Goblin thanks Menace for bringing Carlie Cooper to him. He is a little disappointed that her journal does not contain Spider-Man’s identity. Menace offers to have a “sisterly chat” with her to see if she can find it out. Green Goblin leaves them to it, carrying a Hobgoblin mask… The following day, Anna arrives at Peter’s apartment and is shocked to find it covered with equipment and experiments. Anna wants this brunch to go perfectly so Peter offers to clean it to make her happy. Flash, disguised as an EMT, has made it to a hospital where he finds some painkillers and a wheelchair. He uses the symbiote to give him some clothes and then lets it rest as he wheels his way around. He wonders where to go after hearing a conversation about MJ’s club and realises that there’s another old friend he can reach out to… At MJ’s the place is full at the re-opening party! MJ has offered free entry to all first responders. Pedro Olivera (the fire fighter who saved MJ) dances with her until Captain Yuri Watanabe arrives to question MJ. Yuri reveals that MJ was the last person Carlie called and, after listening to her answer machine message warning MJ to stay away from Peter, Yuri realises that Peter has suddenly become a person of interest in the case. Peter and Anna make preparations for brunch when Flash Thompson turns up on the doorstep! They were going to Parker Industries to be with Aunt May, but Peter says that can stay at home as they have lots to talk about...! At Parker Industries, Dr Wirtham (aka Cardiac) finishes Aunt May’s procedure. Jay wonders why Peter was not there, but he is distracted by the fact that May is walking unaided again! Mayor J Jonah Jameson pays a visit to Alchemax Corporate Headquarters and meets with Liz Allen and Mr Banks. He is desperate to regain control over Spider-Man, so hands over the plans for Spider-Slayers so that they may begin work on building him a solution. Liz brings in Tiberius Stone and Michael O’Mara (Spider-Man 2099) to work on the project. Brunch is a little tense as Aunt May has is surprised to find that Anna is a little person. Anna gives May the opportunity to ask her questions and May jumps straight into asking about children! Peter takes offense to this treatment of his girlfriend and gets even angrier when Flash suggests he leaves. This speeds up Peter’s plan so he quickly works to convince Flash that he should undertake a procedure to give him fully functioning artificial limbs. Flash is unsure, but Peter convinces him to do it for the countless others it could help it if works. An hour later, at Parker Industries, Flash is trapped into a machine ready for the procedure. Dr Wirtham notices that Peter has added to the equipment but Peter steps out to call for a special consultant and doesn’t explain himself. Seconds later, Spider-Man walks in to consult. He scans Flash with sonic imaging which causes the symbiote to shriek out! The machinery extracts and contains the symbiote and gives Flash full control over artificial limbs! Flash is furious and warns Spider-Man that the symbiote is a lot stronger now! On cue, it breaks free of the containment chamber and attaches itself to Spider-Man creating The Superior Venom!
Dan Slott and Christos Gage continues the momentum of Superior Spider-Man by cramming in ten scenes and topping it with a killer image, if not slightly predictable thanks to the covers, on the final page. Superior #23 has purpose and, as in previous issues, several plot threads are continued. My problem is that not even the main point of the issue (Spidey and Venom) has enough focus and build-up of this focal event is sacrificed for the needs of the many plots that are bubbling away. The opening sequence is a cracking and clever continuation from last issue, there are some nice moments between Peter/Ock and Anna and even JJJ, Green Goblin, MJ and Alchemax all get their panels (5 pages in total), but there are missed opportunities when it comes to the scenes with the most potential. The dinner table could have had the awkwardness and emotion invoked in the first Spider-Man film but, because Flash is sat there, the conversation takes a quick diversion into Parker Industries. There was some lovely emotion bubbling away, with Peter/Ock caught between Anna and May, but we were whisked away… to another mistimed and dodgy scene where there is no emotion only haste. Slott charges through panels and common sense to get Spidey on the scene and Flash poised, only for the final page to be oddly constructed. Speech and action don’t quite fit here, especially the third panel where we are left to presume that the symbiote has bonded in time for the delivery of the over-dramatic line “We… …are… …the SUPERIOR VENOM!” The only saving grace for the final scene is Humberto Ramos. I first saw his work in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #1 where he took on Venom and I couldn’t wait for him to tackle him again here. The Superior Venom is nothing with Ramos and he’s the perfect choice for the alien gaunt, fluid movement and spindly mask that this character displays. Not to say that Ramos doesn’t deliver the rest of the issue, but this (along with the other times Venom is in action) is stand out. In my opinion, Ramos delivers a far superior Superior Spider-Man. #23 is a set up for #24 and beyond. It isn’t “filler”, this creative team and the meaty story their telling surpasses that description by miles, but I’m not invested in the Venom plot.
It looks great, but it is a heavy read and there are some scenes ruined by the quick pace.