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Comic review: Superior Spider-Man #1 – Hope not lost

Posted by on January 11, 2013 – 8:00 am
Superior Spider-Man #1© Marvel Comics

Two weeks ago I was so rattled by the events in Amazing Spider-Man #700 that I pronounced not only was this issue the death of Peter Parker (if you don’t know this by now you either don’t care or you’ve been living in a web cocoon) , but that it was also the death of the comic book in general; and although I still have many misgivings regarding the “final” book in the Amazing Spider-Man storyline, my proclamation of the comic book medium’s demise may have been slightly exaggerated.

Case in point is the subsequent story in the Spider-Man saga, Superior Spider-Man #1, a book that I swore I would never read, but like Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part III, “Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in.” I’m eating some delicious crow when I say that this new book is an excellent read, and though I am loath to admit it, I’m starting to get sucked into this “cockadoodie” Doc Ock as Spidey narrative.

SPIDER-SPOILER ALERT! Read at your own risk!

In case you need to get “caught-up,” way back in Amazing Spider-Man #600, Spidey’s old nemesis, Doctor Octopus, devised a way in which to switch bodies with our hero, Peter Parker/Spider-Man. This switcheroo wasn’t revealed until Amazing Spider-Man #698, and in Amazing Spider-Man #700 Peter Parker died in Doc Ock’s old body and the not-so-good Doctor took full possession of Peter’s body and identity as Spider-Man – but, not quite.

At the very last moment, Peter Parker’s embedded memories began influencing Doc Ock’s consciousness and there was hope that even though Octavious was now running the show, there would still be enough influence from Parker’s memories to make the bad guy turn good, but not without Ock’s selfish and arrogant manners – and so the Superior Spider-Man was born.

[media-credit name="© Marvel Comics" align="alignright" width="198"]Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1[/media-credit]Superior Spider-Man #1 finds the “hero” on his first adventure, up against the new Sinister Six, a super-villain team that was originally established by Doc Ock himself, way back in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964). So, I have to admit it was a lot of fun seeing Ock as Spidey going up against a super-group of bad guys that he initially had formed. It is really a pretty brilliant concept that is delivered in a very thoughtful and entertaining way. Kudos to writer Dan Slott and artist Ryan Stegman for pulling off this achievement (and mercifully, Humberto Ramos did not pencil this comic.)

Even better news is that this book reveals that (as most of us could probably have guessed) Peter Parker is far from gone and will most assuredly be back as Spidey – someday. In the meantime it appears that Slott’s plan is to slowly take the hero back to his roots by using the plot device of the pretentious villain inside the hero’s body. He is using Ock’s audacious ego to isolate Parker and bring him back to his heyday, when he was hated and alone, despite his best efforts to do good.

I get it – Spider-Man was never meant to be a member of the Avengers or the Fantastic Four. His character has always worked best and been most appealing as an outsider and a loner. In recent years the hero has become more and more mainstream in his interactions within the Marvel universe, and Doc Ock is going to get him back where he belongs – at least that’s my theory.

Superior Spider-Man #1© Marvel Comics

In the meantime, now that I believe I know the final destination and why we’re employing this particular mode of transportation, I think it’s going to be an enjoyable ride watching Octavius as the Superior Spider-Man, especially knowing that Parker is lurking in there somewhere, fighting against all odds to eventually win the battle. My prediction is that one day Spider-Man will begin once again as the outcast hero we all fell in love with in the first place.

The question still remains as to how far Slott is willing to go to destroy the heart of the Spider-Man character. Superior Spider-Man #1 shows me that he has the correct amount of restraint and I’ve got my fingers crossed that he sees this through with the wall-crawler’s dignity intact. I still have issues regarding issue #700 (you can read my review here), but this new book has (at least temporarily) put my mind at ease and I’m looking forward to this journey.