excelsir's Superior Spider-Man #1 - Hero or Menace? review

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Hoo boy, I bet there won't be a million of THESE up today!

This book is the beginning of the new Spider-Man status quo in the Marvel NOW! landscape. Peter Parker died in the body of his hated nemesis and Otto Octavius is now alive in the body of Peter Parker. In Peters final throes, however, he passes on a lesson of power and that other thing, something about corruption? I forget, it's been almost four pages since they used that line and my memory gets fuzzy over such long periods. And this Ock decides to further Spider-Man's legacy by besting Parker at his own life, becoming a Superior Spider-Man™ (cue music)

So this book begins the first day of the rest of Doc Ock's life. He's young, he's strong, people don't spit at him in line at the bank. Things are good. He does his part in all of Peter's life, thwarting a robbery by a new Sinister Six, finagling with science things at Horizon, and ogling MJ in what was one of the most eye-blisteringly awkward things I've ever read. We even get a surprise guest appearance at the end of this book from Sir Alec Guinness. Sorry, spoiler warning.

Slott writes the book with the same, well, everything. It retains its on-the-nose style, though he certainly gets to flex some different muscles with Spider-Ock's villainous snark as opposed to the usual Spider-quips™. He effectively sets up this new books attitude and begins laying groundwork for some stuff down the road.

Slott's joined by new Spider-Artist (kinda) Ryan Stegman, who's blend of cartooning and kinetic action should blend well with existing artists Humberto Ramos and Giuseppe Camuncoli.

I didn't like this issue. I kept trying to find a way to work that in professionally, but it just isn't happening. I really didn't like this issue from top to bottom. I think Slott's turn for this character is fairly unengaging and has much less potential to succeed than other attempts in comics to make asshole characters likeable (see Damian Wayne). The big difference being that at their core, other characters in these situations find reasons to want to be the hero. They want to better themselves, and that's a pretty defining aspect for a superhero. Now Slott, well known for playing the long game, could very well be planning to start this character on a path to redemption. But that card sure as hell wasn't laid down in this issue.

Underneath all that, Stegman's work in this issue was terribly lacking in comparison to his previous Marvel turns. I loved him on Scarlet Spider and even found his time on Fantastic Four to be quite good, but frankly this whole issue felt rather uninspired. I've read other reviews that talked about his inking being a possible root of that problem, causing the work to look overly sketchy and jagged. I agree with that statement, but his framing was bland at best, save for an admittedly fantastic single page leaping-into-action spread. His character acting seemed to almost match Slott's subtext, in that there wasn't any. The colors maintained a rather muted tone throughout the book, but not so muted as to strike the vintage chord, just...dull. This was probably an artistic choice by Delgado, who's work speaks for itself in terms of quality, to represent the fact that things are not shiny and pretty in this new world. That doesn't, however, necessarily mean it comes across as pleasing to the eye.

I like Spider-Man, but I hope to not be counted in with the fans who are merely pissed at the situation. I can respect the gall it took to do something like this, and I could even see the story working for me under certain circumstances. If they want to make Doc seriously take this second chance at life to be a better person, and try and be the hero he always really wanted to be, I could get on board. If he has to duel with his ingrained past actions and attitudes, I can feel the drama there. From a comedic standpoint I could even totally get behind him trying to best Peter Parker by making his relationship with MJ work using comically outdated romantic gestures. These are all things that would intrigue me and endear this character to me. To make me root for him. But to see him full ready to give in to his base desires only to be stopped by Ben Kenobi, and ogling MJ in a manner normally befitting bad hentai villains (pleasedeargoddon'tmakemekeepreadingthatitmakesmylifehurt), it just sets this up as another one of those "Villain goes rampant in Spider-Man's life" stories that we've seen time and time again. Except this one doesn't have an ending. We can't count on this arc being over in a few months and moving on. There's no home to come back to here. Marvel seems ingrained in this fight for the long haul, and considering Slott's track record and Marvel's undoubted reverence for their most famous character I'm prepared to trust them. But from a single glance at this book as an island, things don't look great.

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