Thursday, August 8, 2013

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN

There are three things you should know before reading what I have
to say about Superior Spider-Man #1-10.

One. I read Marvel Comics titles as if each one of them exists in
its own separate universe.  Marvel continuity hasn’t made logical
sense in years.  Accepting that and following my own path makes it
possible for me to enjoy many Marvel titles.

Two. Marvel makes much better super-hero comics than DC.  DC’s “New
52" represents pretty much the worst super-hero comics DC has ever
published.  The world of the “New 52" is an ugly one, populated by
mostly unpleasant heroes who interact with each other in convoluted
stories that are further diminished by editorial micro-management
detrimental to a writer’s own voice.  The DC comics look as ugly as
they read, filled with lousy Jim Lee imitators at a time when even
Lee ain’t performing to expectations.  Both publishers go in for a
lot more “disaster porn” than I would like, but Marvel manages to
rise above that on a regular basis...probably because its writers
are allowed to be themselves.

Three. There will undoubtedly be big hocking SPOILERS AHEAD
But, since I’m about four issues behind the latest issue to be released,
I’m hoping this won’t be a deal-breaker for you.

We commence...

In the Marvel Universe of Superior Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus has
seized Peter Parker’s body for himself while seemingly condemning
Parker to death in Otto’s corpse.  Ock now has Peter’s memories and
his sense of great responsibility.  He doesn’t know it for most of
these issues, but Ock also has a little bit of Peter Parker in his
head.  The new Spider-Man is determined to be a far superior hero
than his predecessor.  He’s still a dick, but he’s not quite as big
a dick as when he was Otto and, when all is said in done, he’s our
dick.  Lord help us.

The Internet exploded when this storyline was launched.  Some fans
were overcome with grief and rage.  Editor Steve Horton and writer
Dan Slott didn’t cover themselves with glory in responding to the
complaints.  It was what the Internet calls...Tuesday.

From my point of view, there are six or seven different Spider-Men
running around comic books, cartoons and movies.  If you’re a fan
who thinks there’s only one true Spider-Man, God love you and I do
hope your Spider-Man is still being used somewhere.  If he isn’t,
you can reread his old adventures to her heart’s content.  Comics
is full of interesting choices.

Spider-Ock is a fascinating character.  He wants to prove himself
to be a superior super-hero.  He is arrogant but efficient and, in
some ways, that makes him scarier than ever.  He’s got spider-bugs
roaming all over New York to alert him to crimes and threats.  He
makes the NSA almost seem cuddly by comparison.

His efficiency can be brutal.  He beats the crap out of some super-
villains and murders a serial killer.  The Avengers are concerned.
Yeah, that’s right, the Avengers, of which Wolverine is a member,
are worried about Spider-Man’s brutal tactics.

I love a good redemption story and I love that we don’t really know
if Otto Octavius can be redeemed.  Some of what he accomplishes is
wonderfully successful.  Some is encouraging, as when he refuses to
take advantage of Mary Jane.  But, when he attempts and maybe
attempts and perhaps/perhaps not succeeds in expunging the last
remnant of Peter Parker from his mind, one can’t help but recognize
in that act the traditional Doctor Octopus ruthlessness.

Sidebar.  In that last development, I must admit I didn’t much care
for the suggestion/possibility that Peter would put his own needs
above that of a young child.  I would be delighted to see Octavius
be redeemed, but I don’t want to see Parker diminished for Otto to
reach that worthy goal.  But I digress.

Other things about Superior Spider-Man:

The clunky Living Brain re-purposed as Peter’s new lab assistant.
That’s comedy gold.

Spider-Ock offers the Vulture fifty million dollars to give up his
life of crime and retire because Otto doesn’t want to give his old
teammate a beatdown.  I wish the Vulture had taken him up on that
offer.  I hope some other villain does.

Cardiac and Spider-Ock as allies.  That works for me.

J. Jonah Jameson as Spider-Man’s biggest fan.  In recent years, the
writers have made Jameson thoroughly unpleasant.  I wish he were a
more nuanced character, but, he is what they’ve made him.  I look
forward to seeing JJJ get his comeuppance.

Otto’s unhappy childhood memories often determine his reactions to
situations he faces as Spider-Man.  It gives an emotional weight to
the good he’s trying to do.

Who else is bored by JJJ bickering with his father?  That got old
about two panels into the introduction of the character.  Why did
Jonah’s dad have to hook up with Aunt May and can we move them out
of the city and the stories?

Otto’s realization that Peter Parker is not a doctor and his drive
to take care of that little detail is a nice continuing sub-plot.
Especially since it introduced the absolutely wonderful Anna Marie
Marconi.  I adore this woman and I hope she manages to stick around
after Peter Parker gets his body back.  Which we all know will be
happening eventually.

I wish I could gush enthusiastically about the art, but it pretty
much all looks the same to me.  I had to go back and check out the
credits to confirm that several different artists drew the issues.
That’s not to say the art is bad or that the storytelling isn’t up
to the stories.  It’s just not memorable.  It’s a thin line.  While
I don’t want the art to distract from the story, I’d like to have
a stronger positive reaction to it.

Ten issues into Superior Spider-Man and I am enjoying this series.
Slott has been keeping things moving and throwing in enough twists
that the Spider-Ock story hasn’t gotten old yet.  We’ve had a good
beginning and a compelling middle.  Let’s hope we get the kind of
terrific finish that this story deserves.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

3 comments:

  1. Phil B. SoencksenAugust 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    This is one of the books I look forward to reading each month - after wanting to hate it for "killing" Peter Parker.

    I dislike Ramos' style of art- a lot. But a good story always keeps me coming back for more. And this is an engaging story.

    Also -the spin-off titles are proving to be as much fun as the main title.

    The various plotlines are playing out at a good pace and have me anxious to see what happens. The war with the Kingpin, the threat of the Green Goblin and Spider-Ock's new Sinister Six.

    As for JJJ getting his comeuppance - I think we've seen that come to pass after the prison stand-off. Ock showed his "true face" to Jonah and scared the pants off him. If Jonah would get over himself for a moment, he may step back and realize that this is not the Spidey he's known and hated all these years and that something may be wrong.

    Sidebar: With all the cloning, robot doubles, shapeshifting, mind control and mind-switching that does on in comics, I am surprised that no one in the Marvel Universe has looked a bit harder at Spider-Man after this radical personality change. Even his speech patterns are different and, presumably, the way he moves.

    We all know that Peter will be back in his body at some point. But with all the great writing that has happened while he's been away, the bar is set pretty high for his return to come in a very satisfying and well-done way.

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  2. Shh, Phil. Tony'd not up to the end of the prison standoff yet. I'm not sure if he saw Spider-Ock kiss the girl, either.

    As for "Which we all know will be happening eventually." I'm not so sure that's what happends after Spider-Ock arc is done. Uncle Ben did tell Peter he could get his rest after this was fixed. Switching to Miles Morales wouldn't be out of the question.

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  3. Mr. Isabella,

    I love reading your thoughts here and just felt moved to post a comment about your dislike of the "New 52." I have to agree with you that on the whole, the relaunch has led to some much darker, and often sub-par books, in my opinion. But I wanted to speak up for a few titles in the "New 52" you might wish to try, if you haven't already.

    Two of my favorite characters are Aquaman and Nightwing, and both of those two books remain solid reads. I think Aquaman has gotten more respect from DC in the last few years, and it shows in his current book. And Nightwing remains the same fun ride it was before the "New 52" relaunch, albeit with a few minor changes to sync up with the new Bat-books.

    A third current DC title I'd recommend is Worlds' Finest; Paul Levitz and crew are doing a great job with that title showcasing the new/old Huntress and Power Girl.

    Thanks again for your efforts here in your Bloggy Thing and for many great comics through the years.

    ReplyDelete