1/23/2013

Superior Spider-Man #1


Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Ryan Stegman
Colors: Edgar Delgado
Letters: Chris Eliopoulus

Spider-Man created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
[Spoilers Ahead]

So longtime nemesis Doctor Octopus/Otto Octavius is Spider-Man/Peter Parker now? That's an unexpected development, especially for a lapsed reader like myself. But it's no sillier than any of the other recent attempts to shake-up his comic book status quo. And frankly, it's pretty obvious from page one that this won't be permanent. Otto is such a barely disguised bad guy that it's a wonder his cover hasn't been blown yet.

For one, this Peter being secretly possessed by Otto's mind is such a douche towards his colleagues, friends, and Mary Jane Watson. That's really the heart of what makes this arrangement so objectionable to Marvelites, isn't it? That the dirty old man is now sleeping with their hero's main squeeze. The dinner scene where Otto's not listening to a word M.J. says because he's too busy monitoring criminal activity while leering at her cleavage... Isn't that the very image of fanboy creepiness? And it's kind of odd that none of the cast seems to comment on the change in Peter's behavior. He uncharacteristically calls someone a "dolt". He also grins, sneers, snarls, and lurks in the shadows like so many a miscreant. He wears a darker shaded version of his uniform, and he's rendered with rougher-looking art, just in case the reader still doesn't get it.

Then there's the ruthless approach he displays when battling the new Sinister Six. Once a mastermind, always a mastermind? There's a point in the confrontation when he acts like the villain revealing his masterplan while cackling at his own brilliance. And like many villains, he has to share his triumph with the public. Only now, he's boasting about capturing super criminals. So it's apparent that this Spider-Man is no selfless do-gooder, but the vainglorious vigilante Peter has been accused off being so many times in the past. While the world gawks, it takes the supervillains to notice that Spidey isn't acting like his usual self.


And finally there's the twist ending which reveals that whenever Otto's better nature gets, well, the better of him, it's actually Peter's disembodied spirit pulling the strings. So in a way, Peter's still the true protagonist of the story, with Otto playing Jean-Paul Valley to his Bruce Wayne. This isn't about Otto adjusting to his new role as hero, it's about Peter finding his way back. I'd like to say that coming back from the dead is harder than coming back from a broken spine, except that this is superhero comics we're talking about.

It took Bruce more than a year to make his way back to donning the familiar cape and cowl. So in the meantime, get used to the idea of Otto brandishing those web-shooters. Breath deep. Relax. Maybe even try to enjoy the transition. Then witness the eventual unravelling of his new life.