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Superior Spider-Man #14 - A Blind Eye

5

Spider-Man goes for the jugular of New York’s crime, and he’s taking things to a level never before realized.

The Good

The “superior” in Superior Spider-Man was often thought of as a cheap, and some thought underhanded jab, prefix to keep up Spidey books’ love of alliteration, but very early in the run, it became clear Doc Ock had appropriated it for another, specific use: he was going to be a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, regardless of what price he had to pay. “Better,” in Otto’s mind, seems to mean “most efficient,” though certainly not more compassionate, as he has now demonstrated his use of lethal force on two separate occasions. But there’s a new target in his crosshairs: Wilson Fisk’s Shadowland palace in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen. Now that Spider-Man controls the Raft, and has re-purposed it into Spider Island 2, staffed it with his own private army, his first act is to launch an all-out assault on Fisk’s fortress, and he’s taking no prisoners.

Dan Slott took a huge risk when he introduced the idea of Doc Ock as Spidey in Amazing Spider-Man #700, but the reward has been some of the most unique, interesting, and different, web-slinging tales in a very long time. No retcons, horrible secrets from the distant past, or unnecessary twist required, just solid, good storytelling, and that continues into this issue. Slott’s wallcrawler is certainly NOT of the friendly-neighborhood variety, and that trend continues into this issue, as we now see Spidey leveraging his newfound power and authority, but Slott is sure to include signs that all this power may be going to Ock’s head. Near the end of the book, we see a massive confluence of consequences brewing, consequences that even his superior intellect could neither foresee, nor is he likely to be prepared for. It’s also the culmination of something that’s been happening in the periphery of Superior Spider-Man for several issues now and it feels great when it’s finally revealed.

Humberto Ramos tackles the art, a polarizing artist, but one who I fall on the side of loving. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t like him on just any book, but few artists capture the kinetic athleticism and acrobatics of Spider-Man like Ramos does. His exaggerated, wild style lends itself to action, but even the more speech-driven scenes are served as there’s a level of intensity that exists in this issue that makes every panel seem more important than the last. This is especially apparent when Mayor Jameson is shouting at his newfound "ally." Victor Olazaba handles inks with Edgar Delgado on color and both of them do a fantastic job of bringing Ramos’ pencils off the page as both are critical in a book this action heavy. As this is a nighttime book, the colors are actually a little more subdued than we’re used to in a Spider-Man book, but the more mellow palette befits the darker tone that the book achieves perfectly, and the inks ensure that the action is always clear and impactful.

The Bad

There’s very little to dislike in this issue, other than, perhaps, a lack of character development. This is definitely an action issue, and I’m starting to miss the supporting cast, both new and old, that this Superior Spidey has begun to build.

The Verdict

This issue opens with a narration from a citizen of Hell’s Kitchen who’s had to adapt to life underneath the Kingpin’s ever-present shadow, and it gives the reader an excellent view of why people would support such an extreme action against Fisk. This isn’t the Spider-Man we’re used to, so it makes sense he’d have different methods for dealing with a villain of this caliber, and while some fans may balk at people just giving him a pass, when we see into the minds and eyes of the civilians forced to live under the boot of a known criminal overlord, it begins to make more sense why they’d support this new Spider-Man. But Slott isn’t letting Octavius off the hook, as this book shows, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the “superiority” of this Spider-Man may, indeed, only be his own declaration.