The Superior Saga has run its course and is coming to a close. The Green Goblin, who has been amassing a giant army since his return in Superior Spider-Man #5, has finally decided to play his hand. After discovering that the Superior Spider-Man was actually Otto Octavius, the Goblin sent his army to destroy Spider Island and now has his minions on the prowl to hunt down and capture the friends and family of Peter Parker (who, you know, builds Spider-Man’s tech). Otto’s once untouchable empire is now crumbling around him. Also, for fans eager to see the return of the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker has reemerged within Ock’s subconscious.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Associate Editor:||Devin Lewis|
Anna Maria has been captured by the Green Goblin, Carlie Cooper is a goblin herself and J. Jonah Jameson is about to send his newly designed Spider Slayers out for blood, things just aren’t going well for the super hero who had it all figured out just months prior. As carefully planned out as Ock’s ventures in crime fighting were, the Goblin’s plan to bring down Spider-Man is even better thought out. After tapping into Otto’s private line, the Goblin displays the destruction of every spot that may have meant something to Dr. Octopus through the goggles on his mask. From his childhood home to Cardiac’s heart clinic, everything explodes at once while the maniacal laugh of the Goblin King rings through Otto’s ears.
As a distraught Ock races to try and find Anna Maria, Peter Parker is busy reliving life through the eyes Otto Octavius. After experiencing beat down after beat down, Pete has all but lost himself within the memories of Dr. Octopus. Within a beautifully rendered splash page by the always dynamic Giuseppe Camuncoli, we see many of these painful defeats (including the arm-ripping scene from Spectacular Spider-Man #79). Before it is all over Pete (or is it now Otto?) calls the blue and red clothed hero “that infernal Spider-Man!”
Back in real life, Otto heads to Empire State University where he knows he is running headlong into a trap. He has to take the chance in case the Goblin actually has Anna Maria though. Instead of his girlfriend, Ock finds a tied up Don Lamaze, the only living “friend” of Otto Octavius that the Green Goblin can find. The Goblin can tell that Otto doesn’t necessarily care as much about his former classmate as he thought he would though. Regardless, Otto seizes the opportunity to be face to face with the Green Goblin for the first time by exposing his weaponized mechanical appendages and leaps forward to attack his enemy. Like everything else though, the Goblin has figured out a way to hack Ock’s metal arms and sends each of the appendages wildly swinging and aiming to kill. As Otto attempts to tear the mechanical arms from his back, one of them swings in to stab him in the back. This is when Don Lamaze, admittedly a coward for most of his life, jumps forward and takes the blow so that Spider-Man could be spared. When a stunned Otto asks his long time acquaintance why he would do such a thing, Lamaze, with his dieing breath, says it was because “you showed me what it means to be a hero.”
Suddenly it’s not just a crumbling empire, now lives are being lost on an account of Otto’s failures. With the Green Goblin now long gone, an irate Spider-Man emerges from the building to meet an army of Spider Slayers (controlled by none other than the mayor of New York). The Slayers waste no time grabbing Otto and pinning him against the wall. As soon as it seems like Ock may actually be in over his head, the Slayers mysteriously shut off. Clinging to a wall across from the captured Otto is the man responsible for shutting the Slayers off, Spider-Man 2099 (who has been living in the present ever since he got stuck here back in Superior Spider-Man #19). Under his new alias, Michael O’Mara, the Spidey of the future joined the staff at Alchemax and installed a kill-switch on the machines. As luck would have it though, this was only a temporary fix. The Slayers quickly jumped back into action and attacked both Spider-Men. It wasn’t the bumbling Jameson who figured out how to take control of the Slayers though. Instead, the all too recognizable head of Norman Osborn appears upon the screen of each and every Spider Slayer.
After this installment, there are just two issues left in the Superior Saga. I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough time to properly end this grand experiment and this issue doesn’t really do a whole lot to push us to the end game. We see pieces being moved, we see Otto’s world continue to fall apart and we even see the death of a character (albeit a minor character that had just recently been introduced), but I don’t see how in just two issues I’m going to get a satisfying ending to Dan Slott’s epic. There were a few thoughts I had when this whole Superior Saga started and I already know that one has played out to be true. Marvel wants an Amazing Spider-Man title on the shelves when the Amazing Spider-Man #2 movie comes out next month. We all know that movies are the tail that wags the dog, and after a recent announcement concerning the third volume of ASM, now we all know that Peter Parker will be back in May. Slott must have known that he had a certain window to tell his story in and for the most part he has utilized his time wisely. Though he did hit us over the head with a few key points more than I thought necessary, he didn’t doddle with the overall story and the pace has seemed brisk (if not overstuffed). Will he have enough time to give this era a proper ending though? Hopefully this issue is just the calm before the storm because if we are going to get to a satisfying conclusion, Slott needs to get things rolling.
Even if it seems as if the pace has slowed down a bit, the storytelling and art is still just as great as it has been from the beginning. Camuncoli is able to let loose and draw a few really beautiful splash pages such as the aforementioned Doc Ock memories drawing and an inventive piece that has the howling head of the Green Goblin front and center as various buildings linked to Otto’s past explode in the background. The return of Spider-Man 2099 was a welcome sight and the death of Lamaze was handled quite well (much better than the flippant way Ashley Kafka was disposed of). Overall, I thought this issue was fine by itself but it lacked any truly groundbreaking moments. With just two issues left, we need to see something groundbreaking (hint: next issue is pretty groundbreaking).
I’ve been a fan of this series from the start and, despite my trepidation, I sincerely hope that Slott ends up hitting a homerun with the ending. Also, is Norman really the Goblin King or is this just a trick? With so much mystery and build up, I was hoping it would be someone a little more unexpected. Can I really be upset with the return of Spider-Man's greatest villain though?