Wednesday, January 9, 2013


(w) Dan Slott
(a) Ryan Stegman

The Superior Spider-Man #1 is better than I ever could have expected.

After generally being unimpressed with The Amazing Spider-Man #700, I was worried that Dan Slott's opus to Doctor Octopus would be a drag. Instead, what I got was an insanely good issue that delivered on all fronts. We get to see how Otto deals with real super villains and how being on the winning end feels for a change. Even though there's a lot to know going into this series, the story has so little pretense that any new reader could pick it up and be completely satisfied with the status quo.

Dan Slott had to go through a lot to get to this point, but it's been worth it, apparently. Otto as Spider-Man is a treat to read. His 'holier than thou' attitude toward pretty much everyone else is making Spider-Man more interesting than he's been in years. Peter Parker had a way of doing things, he had a process and a mindset for how to act as a superhero. Much of that mentality was based on "with great power comes great responsibility", but beyond that, Peter's personality was meek, shy, and nervous. He used humor and wit as a facade with which to hide these flaws, and it worked for him. But how many times did the villain have the upper hand? 

Otto is inarguably smarter than Peter Parker, which means he's got a whole different way of interpreting his role as Spider-Man. He listens to police bandwidths on a bluetooth headset instead of random patrols, he gains "a tactical advantage" by using nanotechnology to discover the whereabouts and plans of the new Sinister Six, and he pushes the boundaries at Horizon Labs to develop revolutionary technology with materials that could potentially be used for "high yield explosives, lethal biological agents, terrifying instruments of--". Dr. Max Modell is cut off by the charismatic, sophisticated "Peter" who insists that he's only doing good.

In a very real sense, Otto Octavius is a superior Spider-Man than Peter Parker. Of course, I don't mean in the hearts and minds of generations of fans, but in a logistical way, Otto has improved nearly every aspect of Peter Parker's life. It might be hard to hear, but Peter stumbled through most of his career as the Sensational Spider-Man. He often made the wrong decisions and regularly made mistakes that resulted in deaths. While all superheroes have their faults and their failures, Peter's always seemed exacerbated by the fact that he was always so down on himself. Otto, on the other hand, has confidence coming out of his butt despite the fact that his only real victory ever was cheating death by transferring his consciousness into Peter Parker's body. He has to be the Superior Spider-Man because that's all he's got left.

I've always enjoyed Ryan Stegman's art on Scarlet Spider, but for some reason, his work for The Superior Spider-Man seems more over-the-top than usual, almost as if he's emulating Humberto Ramos, the former regular artist for The Amazing Spider-Man. It's not bad, per se, it's just a bit more exaggerated than I'm used to seeing from Stegman.

The Superior Spider-Man #1 is a complete success. Even without the big twist at the end, Dan Slott has secured by readership for this book by delivering an awesome opening chapter to a series that shows a lot of promise for interesting, complex storytelling based on real human emotions and relatable feelings. It's a real shame that everyone already knows that Peter Parker will be back in the future. In the world of comic books, major players don't stay dead, so it's only a matter of time (or a matter of a new movie) before Peter gets back into his own head. And really, that's going to be disappointing when it does happen because we've read the same old song and dance for the last fifty years with Peter, and already I'm more invested in Otto Octavius' journey than I've been in Peter's for quite a while. Long live the Superior Spider-Man.


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