The Superior Spider-Man written by Dan Slott, illustrated by Ryan Stegman, Gisuppe Camuncoli, Humberto Ramos
Dan Slott became public enemy number one the day news broke that he intended to kill Peter Parker. I, for one, was intrigued by the idea and wanted to see how it would be done, but I was wary about how he was going to pull it off. Over the last year, Otto Octavious’ mind had been inhabiting the body of Peter Parker. All hell broke lose, both online and in the pages of the Spider-Man comic book that for a time was appropriately titled ‘The Superior Spider-Man’. The early books gave fans an unwarranted notion that Peter’s takeover would only be temporary, which had left fans wondering when their friendly neighborhood hero would show his face again, or better yet, think like himself again. People hated the idea that Doc Ock would be Spider-Man. They called the premise stupid and inconceivable, yet, as Superior Spider-Man came to a close those same fans couldn’t get enough of Spidey-Ock and the methods to his madness.
A big part of Superior Spider-Man’s success was the consistent art, which was initially drawn by Ryan Stegman and colored by Edgar Delgado, but was stepped up a notch when Giuseppe Camuncoli took the reigns in Issue #4. And it couldn’t have gotten any better when Humberto Ramos took over. Those three artists interchanged throughout the series and were all great in their own right, but my personal appreciation would gravitate towards Giuseppe Camuncoli. There is something about the way he draws Spidey. When complimented by either John Dell’s and Terry Pallot’s inks, and color art by Edgar Delgado, you can really see his art pop out and come to life.
Dan Slott is simply an evil genius. He crushed fan’s hopes, changed the way Spider-Man operated in the world, had Spidey despised by his colleagues, and feared by his enemies in a way that the real Peter Parker couldn’t even imagine. All this sounds like Slott destroyed the principles and ethics of probably one of the most famous heroes on a global scale. And you know what? You’re right, and we love him for it. Spider- Man is the embodiment of doing the right thing no matter what, being the every man that was more than capable of being something more but deciding not to. Before Doc Ock, Spidey was relatable; someone who made mistakes often and sacrificed his personal life in the process of correcting those errors. When Otto took over, we not only saw a more efficient Spider-Man, we saw a deadly one. Otto was willing to kill. Yes, he promised Peter that he would be a force of good in the world, but his way would be more superior. In many ways it was. Not only was his costume one of the coolest I have ever seen grace a page of a Spider-Man comic (I will not acknowledge you Iron-Spider), but he also had a new focus on himself that we'd never seen from Peter before. Doctor Octavious was selfish and he made himself the forefront before crime, drastically changing the way Spider-Man operated, using his genius first, and an ego to match as big as Spider-Island.
In many ways this benefited the life of Peter Parker, showing that Peter could have used his genius to help the world in different ways. It couldn’t be the same as Otto, for Otto was a genius in his own right. Octavious helped the woman he used to love (Aunt May) in a way Peter couldn’t and left Peter with images of an encounter between them that was best left unknown. Otto created solutions for the simple problems that the original Spider-Man evaded in order to show his superiority to Peter, yet those solutions, in many ways, created the downfall that Otto wasn’t expecting. There are still many issues that Peter must face all by his lonesome and without any memory of how they transpired. A lot of personal joys are now gone, Mary Jane can’t be in an relationship with Peter upon his return. He has a new girlfriend he knows nothing about and a developed hatred from people who fear and loathe him because of tactics used by Doc Ock. Sounds like the good ol’ Parker luck to me. Spider-Man’s back, but the happiness he once thought he was so close to before is now a slight hope within the insurmountable drama that now is Peter Parker’s life, the real Peter Parker.
Peter is back in his body after the events of issue #30 and is ready to take the Green Goblin head-on. I understand this finale is to set up Spider-Man being ‘Amazing’ again, but I found that some of his interactions with supporting characters, that were suspicious of Peter for some time, seemed forced. Spider-Man 2099 was very accepting of the brain-swapping notion, with little regard of the validity of Parker’s claims. The Green Goblin just needed to hear a joke for him to know that Otto wasn’t in control anymore.
A problem I had was that I felt that Otto’s end came too soon. The prideful doctor, with his back against the wall, succumbs to the stresses in issue #30 and gives Peter back control of his body. Everyone knew this would happen, but my issue was that I wanted to see the Superior Spider-Man handle this encounter with the Green Goblin before giving the reigns back to Peter. The finale of the Superior Spider-Man was actually in issue #30, while issue #31 can be seen as the real return of the Amazing Spider-Man.
As I re-read the thirty-one issues that was once ‘Superior Spider-Man’, I find myself in awe about how massive of a story Slott created with nothing more than a simple, and many would agree, stupid premise. Yes, there were a lot of cheesy moments, and yes you kind of found yourself embarrassed for Spidey-Ock on many occasions because he just wasn’t the same people-person Peter Parker was. He alienated himself from the Avengers, he pushed away Mary Jane, he lost the public’s trust, and what started out as a good relationship with J. Jonah Jameson became a bitter resentment that the original Peter knows much about. Again, sounds like the life of the normal Spider-Man to me. Now that Spider-Man is trading his ‘Superior’ ideals in for something more ‘Amazing’, we can see the plotlines threaded for another terrific year of Spider-Man, hopefully scripted the whole way by Dan Slott.
The end doesn’t leave many open ended questions from the Superior Spider-Man run, and sets up the future of Amazing Spider-Man. What Slott did with the Green Goblin is interesting. The psychotic nature of Norman Osborn will always make him a threat to Spider-Man, no matter who’s behind Spidey’s mask, or whose brain is in the head of the guy who’s behind the mask. (I think I just confused myself.) I feel that this was one of the strongest titles Marvel was offering at the time and I’m confident that Slott will have bigger and better plans for Spidey in the near future. The life of unlucky Peter is back, and seeing what he will do with the dilemmas Doc Ock has created for him intrigues me enough to continue reading. Even though I loved Superior Spider-Man’s costume and ruthlessness, it’s good to get a chance to see what normal Peter would do in critical situations again. It’s a refresher for fans to have their quirky and smart-mouthed Spider-Man back, as well as enough drama to contend with their mothers’ daytime soaps.
Spidey has returned but Superior Spider-Man ended in near perfect form. I would highly recommend for anyone to read the complete run by Dan Slott, because he knows how to write good Spider-Man stories, and this may be one of the best, if not the best to date.