Posted - June 20, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015
Superior Spider-Man 1 Hero or Menace?
Otto Octavius, the infamous Doctor Octopus, has taken over the the body and powers of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. But it comes with a twist:
At the start of Superior Spider-Man Otto gets to do what no one else can.
Offer flowers at his own tombstone. He's a sentimental old goat, In his place I would never bother with my tombstone at all. Ok, maybe I'll take a peek just once.
Wisely, writer Dan Slott serves up the action very early on, courtesy of these guys:
Part of the new Sinister Six. Here's the roll call: (2) Boomerang - leader, (2) Speed Demon, (3) Shocker, (4) Beetle, (5) Living Brain, and (6) Overdrive.
Before long, Otto swings into action as Spider-Man. Scientist that he is, he does a quick analysis of his foes.
Did I say "scientist that he is, he does a quick analysis of his foes"? I meant: Egotist that he is, he insults all six members of a group he once belonged to.
Sinister Six quickly becomes Sinister Five as the Living Brain is accidentally taken out by his teammates.
Beautiful panel courtesy of the art team of Ryan Stegman and Edgar Delgado.
As the battle progresses, Speed Demon gets the better of Otto - hitting "superior" Spider-Man with high speed punches. The pragmatic Otto Octavius makes a hasty retreat.
I just love the "How does Parker put up with this" comment.
Now comes something weird.
Since when did Spider-Man have claws?
After the battle, Otto/Peter is back at Horizon Labs. Just take a look at Otto's Peter Parker.
It's not just the "dolt" statement, its the way he holds himself. Peter doesn't stand up quite so straight.
Well it was bound to happen. Otto now has a clear shot at MJ.
Don't be so judgmental, we would grin too in his place. I mean, look at MJ.
Whoever thought up covering MJ's dialogue with narrative blocks to convey that Otto isn't listeing to MJ is a genius.
Here's another wonderful panel giving us a closer look at the Beetle.
This is a small panel showing Speed Demon about to confront Spider-Man.
Its a very small panel, but how the speed was rendered, in particular, got my attention.
We get a second battle between Otto/Spider-Man and the Sinister Six. Before the battle, Otto has put a trace/spy on Boomerang by releasing nanites into Boomerang's system through the act of wounding Boomerang with a scratch during their first fight. Could Peter even do something like that?. So now, Otto can hear the Secret Six planning their next gambit - intent, location, time, Doc Ock has got it all. And with that knowledge he sets up the location for a win, anticipating every move of the Secret Six with countermeasures. And. And. He calls the press to see Spider-Man's big victory. I hate to say it, but this IS the Superior Spider-Man. Otto Octavius is masterful in situations where Peter would most likely end up a pawn.
He is superior. Until he isn't. Until he makes a fateful, terrible mistake. Doc Ock isn't satisfied with merely defeating the Secret Six and foiling there plans. He tries to kill Boomerang. Whether its because he's out of control or is merely inherently cruel, he crosses a line and what was superior is now inferior. It's like watching the perfect cake go out of the oven and then melt into crap before your eyes.
Before the deed could be done something amazing happens. Not 'Superior'. 'Amazing'.
Peter is still here. It's not a complete takeover.
I think the best thing I can say about the first issue of Superior Spider-Man is: I want more.
Posted - June 21, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015
Superior Spider-Man 2 The Peter Principle
First of all, let me state that I think Peter Parker is the one true Spider-Man. Not Otto Octavius. Not Ben Reilly. Peter. That said - and I know this is only the second issue of Superior Spider-Man - the more I read the more I'm beginning to agree that Doctor Octopus IS a superior Spider-Man; barring some lapses like his homocidal attack on Boomerang last issue.
Let's take as an example Doc Ock's use of the media and public relations. Peter never expended any effort in this area but Otto Octavius knows the if you don't take charge of your public image, your public image will be created for you. Years of dealing with J. Jonah Jameson's negative press and Peter never called a press conference to counter the negative spin. It's the seccond issue and its Otto Octavius' second press conference!
Speaking of J. Jonah Jameson, look at this!
Superior Spider-Man does something for the Marla Jameson Foundation and now he's chummy with Jameson.
Dan Slott divided this issue into segments and each segment has a little identification label. Here's the label for the first segment:
That is so funny. This is how Otto thinks of MJ. More than that, this is how Otto thinks of everything. Another segment is labelled "Watson Dating Trials" and so on and so forth. Everything is just a series of scientific experiments.
Look at MJ in this panel.
Look at the outfit, specially the hat. That hat and small cafe table. This is almost identical to the pose and the outfit from the Spider-Man 2 movie.
Back to the comic, MJ and Peter are talking then an alarm sounds and MJ knows that Peter has to go, the "ghostly" Peter knows the same, Doc Ock is hesitant, reluctantly gets up, and has this to say:
I disagree with Peter regarding his "great responsibility" vow meaning that he has to interrupt his life everytime an alarm rings. For one thing, this is New York, there's always an emergency. For another, it is physically impossible for even Spider-Man to respond to each and every emergency. For the sake of his private life, not to mention sanity, Peter should adopt a, well, I would think, a schedule. Set times when he can or cannot respond. Peter does not agree with this though. And neither does Doc Ock. True to his scientist nature Otto Octavius heads back to the lab for a solution.
In the Lab we find that Doc Ock has converted the Living Brain into a docile assistant/manservant robot of sorts.
More than that, he creates Spider Bots. These little critters will patrol and monitor the city for him. He plans to deploy hundreds of them.
Genius! Effective, time-saving, just genius. Between the robot assistant and the Spider-bots, this IS Superior Spider-Man. Well it is.
We can never blame Doc Ock for looking at MJ and getting horny about it. Just wait till he sees the Black Cat. Anyway, the Doctor is a surprisingly patient courtier. Not only that, he comes to the conclusion that it is simply impossible for MJ and Peter to make the relationship work because of the Spider-Man alter ego. Peter himself admits he knows this but is unable to cut and cut clean. Not so the doctor, he makes the decision - calling the relationship a 'recursive loop' - and ends it. Again, Superior Spider-Man.
The Doctor's ultimate solution also a bit scientific - heck, its downright biological.
He jacks off. Gets a good night's sleep and is over the whole MJ thing. Superior Spider-Man!
Next issue its the Vulture, my absolute favorite Spidey villain.
Posted - June 22, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015
Superior Spider-Man 3 Everything You Know Is Wrong
A spider signal!
What a lively way to begin the third issue of Superior Spider-Man - busting into Batman territory. The fact that its instigated by J. Jonah Jameson in his capacity as Mayor makes sense. Here's the classic Batman panel a la Spider-Man.
Let's enjoy this panel because it looks like its going to be the only one, as Otto doesn't like this whole Spider Signal schtick and takes matters into his own hands.
In another (friendly) swipe at the Batman signal, Otto explains why a Spider Signal (and, therefore, a Bat Signal) is a bad idea.
At this point, Jameson is shamefaced and cowed and allows Spider-Man's requests like the use of the Police Lab, for example. I get a sense that Dan Slott made a list of what he wanted from the series, and one of them is a wholly different relationship between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson. A relationship wherein Jameson is subservient. It's an entertaining premise but the execution is sadly not believable. The old Jameson, looking at the destroyed signal, would have blown his top and WOULD HAVE REMAINED PISSED. No way Spider-Man could have gotten the green light for any request. Jameson would have that rooftop swarming with cops and a general manhunt would be underway for the "masked menace".
Last issue featured the new Sinister Six. This one showcases the Vulture. Both Doc Ock and the Vulture were founding members of the original Sinister Six. As Otto swings off to confront Adrian, memories of the past play on his mind. I like this panel in particular. I've been looking at Peter's mug for so long I'm starting to forget what Otto Octavius looks like.
"One big score" without the meddling Spider-Man. That is what Adrian Toomes has always wanted. And I find it touching that Otto Octavius as Spider-Man is willing to grant it to an old comrade.
The ghostly Peter is rummaging around Otto's head and comes up with that old saw: Otto had a childhood spent being abused
Anyway, so its established that Otto was roughed up during his formative years. That's important for what comes next.
We've all been seeing Toome's little bird henchmen since last issue and I've been ignoring them on aesthetic grounds. Small "mini me" vultures, they looked and look ridiculous. Although this panel's layout makes Toomes and his buzzards look good.
It is revealed here that they are kids that Toomes are exploiting - as in child labor.
Otto was an abused kid + Adrian exploiting kids = an Otto Octavius mad on. This is where Superior Spider-Man is different. When Peter gets mad we know he is in control and will do the right thing. When Otto gets mad, its a very nervous situation because Doc Ock has those moments when he's just not in control. This time he goes ballistic on the Vulture, who is a favorite of mine and I'm like: Is Toomes going to die in this issue?
References to Spider-Man's strength just helps build up the tension.
"Arms that have traded blows with the Hulk". Holy crap!
On Toome's favor is an improved suit.
As the chase continues we get this great detail.
It only makes sense that Spider-Man's longtime foes (i.e. every member of the old Sinsiter Six) know the sound of his cartriges emptying. That's a much appreciated detail from Dan Slott.
The good news is the Vulture isn't killed. He's messed up something major but he will live to fly another day in the skies of Marveldom. That's good.
As a last, exquisite, parting gift from this issue, we get two panels that show Carlie becoming aware of the big switcheroo.
The look on Carli'es face says it all. Kudos to Ryan Stegman for his subtle art.
Posted - July 24, 2014
Superior Spider-Man 4 The Aggressive Approach
This issue is about two things. First, it's about the continuing reactions and initiatives of Otto Octavius in his new identity as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Second, its about the Spider-Man villain known as Massacre.
Let's tackle Massacre first. Here's the infomative "blurb" on him.
After decades of creating super-villains, and with all the villains ever created, one would think it would be increasingly diffifult to come up with a novel antagonist. Massacre is unique in the sense that he was created not by adding something but by taking something away. And that something is empathy. It's a subtle difference but the resulting "creature" is pretty blood-curdling. It's all introduced by a series of panels that reminds me very much of an issue of Batman.
First, we come upon Ravencroft.
My immediate thought is "Arkham". Then, inside the sanitarium, we have this little scene.
If you switch Spider-Man with Batman and J. Jonah Jameson with Commissioner Gordon this panel would be at home in an issue of Detective Comics. Another thing is that this can never happen to Peter Parker's Spider-Man. Look how cooperative the authorites are. Heck, they called Spider-Man over to help. No, its more than that, J. Jonah Jameson called Spider-Man to help. That can never happen to Peter in a million years, he just doesn't have the personality to swing this. And yes, I do admire Otto Octavius for being able to pull this off.
These panels show how absolutely terrifying Massacre is.
The eyes of the poor doctor says it all. There is no reasoning with a man with no conscience. And no, its not the usual "man without a conscience" who is just suppressing his inherent ability to empathize. The frightening thing about Massacre is that his lack of conscience is a clinical condition. He literally doesn't have the part of the brain that allows him to feel. In that way, he's the ultimate killer.
Check out this scene at a fast food joint. Massacre drops by for food and drink and holds everybody hostage at gunpoint. I really like this detail which is clearly about Pepsi vs. Coke.
Anyway, Massacre very calmly informs everybody that he only needs a ride and everybody will be detained at a back room while he escapes - no one will be harmed. AND HE MEANS IT. In the same way that there is no mercy and kindness in Massacre there is also no anger and cruelty. So he's all about logic and a cold, brutal honesty. This being so, it is a terrible disaster that this service crew member does this.
Before he kills everybody, except a mother and child that he uses as a hostage, he explains himself.
Massacre's personal symbol should be a gore-spattered blade. He is as cold as that steel. And as bloody.
The art in this issue is very impressive. It's by Giussepe Camuncoli. Now, let's segue over to Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man.
Right at the start of the issue we are greeted by this beautiful splash page.
Look at the unique way Otto carries himself as Spider-Man. Chest out. Shoulders squared. Hands unclenched in a "clawed" pose. Aside from that, all those Spider Bots (which I think are a great idea) make this Otto's Spider-Man. The Spider Bots increases Otto's awareness of what's going on in New York. Superior awareness. According to Otto he's catching 400% more criminals than Parker. He even has a dollar value on how many thefts he's foiled - 12 million dollars. The downside of all this "data" is that its coming from Otto Octavius, so this pronouncements are laced with a very unhealthy does of personal aggrandizement.
Visually, the unique lenses used by Otto on his uniform are both curious and beautiful.
Two more things about this new Spider-Man.
First, he's ruthless. So criminals just surrender.
Second he's sensible. Yes, sensible.
Otto is not governed by Peter Parker's great flaw: the unreasonable guilt felt by Peter Parker because of the death of his Uncle Ben. A guilt that has compelled Peter to attempt doing the undoable job of taking responsibilty for quelling every criminal activity in New York. An obsession that has nearly hijacked Peter's life.
My vote for the most amusing panel of the entire issue is this one.
In front of Max Modell and Uatu Jackson, Otto Octavius as Peter Parker loses it. And why? BECAUSE HE FINDS OUT THAT SORRY-ASSED PETER PARKER ISN'T A DOCTOR. Hahaha. In Otto's world, that's equivalent to saying somebody never had any formal education at all. Not even kindergarten.
That said, I would like to note - gladly - that the Spider-Man books, as a whole, put a very big premium on smarts and education. Whether its Spider-Man - superior or otherwise - or his foes, the message is usually very stark: brain power = advantage. Add in revealing outfits worn by the Black Cat and Mary Jane Watson and we've got comics that haven't been out of print since '62.
Excellent and entertaining, and that's the issue.
Posted - July 24, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015
Superior Spider-Man #5 Emotional Triggers
This is the breakdown for this issue: The main subplot is about the villain Massacre. Related to this is a smaller subplot involving the Mocha-Cola (as in Coca-Cola) CEO. Then we have the Anna Maria Marconi subplot. Plus. Plus. A showcase of Giuseppe Camuncoli's choicer panels this issue.
Let's begin with the art. Camuncoli gives us not one, not two, but three beautiful Superior Spider-Man/Peter Parker panels. Here's the first one
Panel the second.
Panel the third.
Jaw dropping aren't they?
Now on to the main subplot which is how Superior Spider-Man dealt with Massacre. Otto followed a sequence of steps and made specific decisions when he handled the "Massacre situation". To make things interesting, I'd like to make educated guesses as to how Peter would've handled the exact same situation. Let's go . . .
First problem: How to find Massacre. Otto Octavius step 1: Conscript Uatu Jackson's face recognition software and deploy the same to the Spider Bots. In last issue's breakdown I commented on Superior Spider-Man's unusual lenses, it turns out these lenses are linked to the Spider Bots. Neat.
Step 2: Let the Spider Bots use the software to search for Massacre while Spider-Man does something else. If it was Peter Parker he would swing around trying to find leads - Peter himself said so in this issue. No Spider Bots, no face recognition software, just legwork. I like Otto's approach. By leveraging technology it covers a wider area and frees up Spider-Man's time.
The Spider Bots eventually do find Massacre. Step three for Otto: Leverage New York's Finest by alerting them to the whereabouts of Massacre. This way Spider-Man is being backed up by what amounts to a small army of policemen. Even Peter says this is a brilliant move, he clearly would not have thought about it.
Step four for Otto: Access Peter's memory about the past run-in with Massacre. Find out Massacre's M.O. of taking hostages and placing them in off-site locations. Use technology to locate and save said hostages. Once again, Peter is surprised by this move. Clearly he would not have done it resulting in Spider-Man being stymied, albeit temporarily, by a hostage situation, later on.
Step five for Otto: Confront Massacre and kill him. What?! This is worth going through panel by panel.
First, Spider-speed and Spider-sense allows Otto to come in close in spite of Massacre's guns and land one on the face.
Next Massacre uses the hostage gambit, finds out it's no longer valid. The look on Massacre's face - priceless.
I thought this guy couldn't feel a thing? Why does he look like he feels like a horse's ass? Hehehe.
Next take Massacre's gun and wound him with it.
And now for the coup de grace. But. But right before.
Awwww, he can feel shit. Moving on . . . Otto Octavius kills Massacre.
Question: Was it the right thing to do? Here's my opinion: How you behave towards a criminal should be an expression of your identity and NOT the criminal's identity. Let me explain. Previous issues of Spider-Man reveal Otto Octavius as a killer, in fact, a particularly casual killer. That is who he was as Doctor Octopus. That is who he still is as Spider-Man. Therefore, it was a correct move for him to finally kill Massacre. On the other hand Peter Parker is most definitely NOT a killer. Peter Parker's identity is tied in with the concept of being a hero. IF it was Parker in the Spider-Man suit it would have been wrong to kill Massacre, because doing so would be a betrayal of self; a betrayal of identity. On the other hand, for Otto, the reverse would have been true; NOT killing Massacre would have been a betrayal of identity. The genius of writer Dan Slott is he allowed us to see Spider-Man engage in "extreme vigilantism" without throwing Peter Parker into a guilt trip that would have scarred his soul. I'll be honest, after seeing Massacre kill all those people in the fast food joint last issue. I greatly enjoyed seeing Superior Spider-Man smoke him.
Furthermore, The case for Otto being a superior Spider-Man keeps getting stronger. Peter is the One True Spider-Man but it can't be denied that Otto is doing excellently here.
Related to the Massacre subplot is that of the CEO of Mocha-Cola. Mocha-Cola is the corporate rival of Phizzy Cola. Get it? Mocha Cola? Phizzy Cola? Mocha-Cola owns Burger Town. Get it? If you didn't then I'd like to congratulate you on your successful escape from North Korea. Seriously, Mocha-Cola is Coke. And Phizzy-Cola is Pepsi. Anyway. . .
The CEO is in her posh apartment when this absolutely frightening thing happens.
Massacre has a proposition for the CEO.
Massacre in action clearly shows that she accepted the offer.
Because of his ubiquitous Spider Bots, Otto knows about this whole deal and confronts the CEO. Forcing her to turn herself in.
This is so unfair. If Massacre broke into your house with a proposition would you really say 'No'. Obviously, her agreement to the whole scheme was done under threat, and, therfore, she does not deserve Otto to be on her case like this.
Okay. Enough of that. Let's get some food as in: Anna Maria Marconi. Let me explain. Ever since Otto as Peter went back to college for that all-important doctorate he has been hounded by Anna Maria Marconi to avail of her tutoring service. Imagine Otto Octavius needing a science tutor. It's absurd and Otto clearly thinks so. He drops by on Anna Maria to tell her off. It turns out that Ana Maria Marconi charges 60 dollars an hour for her services, meals included. It is the free meals part that really got to Otto. Mainly because Ana Maria turned out to be a phenomenal cook.
First up is the Involtini.
Involtini are little meat bundles stuffed with cheese or eggs and served with a savory sauce. Here's what it looks like for real
Next up is Pignolata.
Pignolata is a soft pastry half covered in chocolate syrup the other half in vanilla icing. Here's what it looks like for real.
Great issue. Now I'm hungry.
Posted - July 25, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015
Superior Spider-Man 6 Joking Hazard
The story in Superior Spider-Man 6 reminds me of three balls on a billiard table being launched simultaneously and hitting an 8-ball in the middle of the table at the same time; with the said eight-ball going neatly into a pocket. It's a very focused issue. Let's get to it . . .
First ball: Screwball and Jester. They're about parkour.
Screwball and Jester are also identity thieves. They attract traffic to their website by humiliating celebrities. While viewers are online they steal their passwords, credit card numbers and other information. Their latest celebrity target? J. Jonah Jameson.
Love the crowd reaction.
Otto Octavius is also a big fan.
Second ball: Otto Octavius.
This is a flashback panel.
In Superior Spider-Man 3, it was shown that Otto had an abusive father. Here it shows that Otto was bullied. It's important to note Otto's reaction: Anger.
I'll have more to say about this later but first . . .
Third ball: Anna Maria Marconi.
See what those two bastards did? Did you note how well Ana Maria handled it? Look at her face. Absolutely calm - contrast that with Otto's tearful face when he was bullied. Make no mistake, what happened to Anna Maria was very painful; if it was me I would certainly be crushed - I'm more of an Otto than an Anna in front of public humiliation, sad to say. In another panel, Anna Maria explains herself.
That's strength. That is wisdom and strength that guy's like me barely understand. I know where she's coming from, I want to go there myself, be that strong, but two guys make fun of me just because they're a-holes. I'll walk away, coward that I am, but inside I'll be hurt and simmering and like Otto, I'll be wanting revenge. Anna Maria Marconi shows another way - a better way.
Okay, now we have all three balls rolling across our imaginary billiard table. Here's how they meet up with the 8-ball.
It comes as no surprise that J. Jonah Jameson took getting pied and his trousers being dropped in front of a press conference very badly - who wouldn't? Jameson leverages his new found "friendship" with Spider-Man, sending out Otto to "get" Screwball and Jester.
Otto isn't doing this out of obedience. Remember the bullying flashback? Otto has something deep and personal against people who subject other people to public humiliation. Make no mistake, its a very dangerous Spider-Man swinging away from J. Jonah Jameson here.
The "meeting" between Spider-Man, Screwball, and Jester has a lot of people laughing at the Spider. Actually if it was Peter, it wouldn't be such a problem. This is Otto. Otto simply cannot handle public humiliation.
Remember the young Otto with his broken glasses? All that anger just explodes.
With bloody results.
And thus the issue really makes me think. After all is said and done, the shining example here is Anna Maria Marconi. that's how to handle it. Granted that Screwball and Jester are criminals - that is not known about them - they still didn't do any real physical harm. Not to say that humiliation isn't painful but I don't think it warrants nearly getting beaten to death. I'm talking as a hypocrite here because in all honesty I would behave the same way as Otto. With great regret, yes, but, that would be my reaction - I have the same simmering anger. I wish I didn't but I do. It doesn't stop me from recognizing the ideal reaction - the person I want to be vs. the person that I am.
This issue was beautifully illustrated by Humberto Ramos but Dan Slott's script really hit the ball out of the park this time out. Excellent.