So here’s the Superior Spider-Man – Dr Otto Octavius enjoying an indefinite residency in Peter Parker’s body. He has himself a fine old time this issue, taking on the latest version of the Sinister Six, taking Mary Jane Watson out for a meal, inventing like crazy …
… of course, he is crazy. Crazy to think he can just steal Peter Parker’s life. It’s only a matter of time before he’s challenged by MJ, who’ll gradually put together the clues that this isn’t the man she loves. The drinking, the inattentiveness, the body language – it’ll build and MJ being MJ, she’s not going to give ‘Peter’ the benefit of the doubt for long.
This issue, though, throws a spanner in the works of my expectations, with a last page surprise that brought a big old smile to my face. I won’t spoil it here, if you really want to know, it’s out there on the web. Let’s just say that writer Dan Slott surprises me by dropping a story bomb I expected much farther down the line.
That apart, there’s loads to enjoy here – the latest Sinister Six irritates original founder Ock by being not just all-new but, in his opinion, all-lame; there’s Speed Demon, Boomerang, the Living Brain, a female Beetle, Shocker and the utterly ridiculous Overdrive, a guy in a giant tyre. The self-proclaimed Superior Spider-Man is making short work of them until a barrage of super-fast blows from Speed Demon sees Ock decide that the fight’s not worth the hassle.
So much for being a better Spider-Man – Peter would have stayed and found a way to turn the tide.
Not that Ock lets the Six roam free. He plants spider-tracers in a unique way and races back to Horizon Labs, using Peter’s access to hi-tech resources to build a few toys that may turn the tide. And on the way he finds himself compelled to save a policeman from one of Boomerang’s deadly weapons. Hmmm.
Slott’s script is well-crafted, pacy and witty. The only change I’d make would be to show Ock trying to tone down the mad scientist speech patterns when in public – ‘Dolts!’ He should be smarter than that.
Ryan Stegman’s art is excellent – the action scenes are clear and dynamic, the character moments hit every time (click on image to enlarge). The storytelling choices work a treat, such as the high angle shot of Ock lying in wait for the Six, dominating the panel. And his Peter and MJ are sharp takes on the classic looks. Edgar Delgado adds several extra dimensions with some fine colouring, while Chris Eliopoulos picks some suitably intense fonts from his box of tricks.
The cover looks great too, courtesy of Stegman and Delgado – what a creepy little Spider-Man this is. A shout-out, too, to Nessim Higson for a logo that suits Ock down to the ground, and production guy Manny Mederos for ensuring all the elements hang together so well – even the issue number works with the art.
So, the first issue of The Superior Spider-Man is a hit with me. I can’t see myself wanting to read about Dr Octopus for long – I’m too big a Peter Parker fan – but this is a terrific debut.