Robbing Peter: The Superior Spider-Man #1 Review

superior_spider_man_1_cover_promoEditor’s Note: I’ve come to say goodbye to my old life. A life wasted on spoilers and ruined plot twists. A man whose sole victory was cheating comic readers… by switching – ah, screw it. This review contains spoilers. Many. many spoilers.

I’m done. Done accepting things the way we are. I swear to you… from now on… whenever I’m around, wherever I am… …No one dies!

- Peter Parker

Okay, that’s one way to end a comic book. But we’ll talk about that later.

So here we are: the first issue of a Spider-Man comic with Otto Octavius riding the peak seat, and our first chance to see how he handles the, well, power and responsibility. And coming out of the events of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, that was a serious question; sure, we’ve known what Doctor Octopus is like for the past fifty years, and it seems unlikely that an arrogant megalomaniac like that is likely to turn over a new leaf just because he can suddenly see his dick for the first time since Eisenhower was President. But still, we’ve seen that Ock obtained access to all of Peter’s memories and experiences, which could have an effect on Otto. So the question is: how does he behave as Spider-Man?

A lot like a supervillain, actually. But not in the way that you’d think.

So Otto’s Spider-Man now, and he’s at least paying lip service toward seriously taking on the role by monitoring police broadcasts, where he learns that a team of supervillains calling themselves “The Sinister Six” are attacking a scientific facility. Otto, as the founding member of the group (which, frankly, has had so many members it makes Guns N’ Roses look like The Three Tenors. For all I know, I’m in The Sinister Six now. But I digress.), doesn’t take this news well. But rather than pulling a Roger Waters and making the name lift a matter for the courts, Otto instead puts on the Spidey suit and goes to kick their asses… right until it gets difficult. Then he bails… until some instinct makes him return to save a cop in danger. Otto, being the weaselly sort, plants some Spider-Tracers on Boomerang to eavesdrop on the Six’s upcoming plans, and use the downtime to hit on Mary Jane. Otto uses his knowledge of their plan to implement a detailed plot to stop them, which ends in Otto standing over the defeated Boomerang, fully prepared to kill him in front of the press… until something stops him. But we’ll get back to that.

Okay, let’s start with the most important thing: this is, almost without exception, a very good, character driven book that was clearly written with a great deal of care by Dan Slott. This book, as the introduction to Ock as Spider-Man, kinda had to be a character study of the man more than any kind of action or plot-driven story, and Slott delivers on that basis. Because this is, regardless of the suit or the name or the redhead he’s trying to bang, a story about Otto Octavius. And Peter’s memories or not, he is a self-centered supervillain. And Slott never forgets that.

And it’s not just the imperious attitude and the willingness to bail on a fight that’s become a pain in the ass, it’s his entire M.O. And the second battle with the Sinister Six is a perfect example; superheroes tend to go on patrol and react to situations as they occur… but Doc Ock is a villain. And villains spend their days planning crimes. So to see Ock doing homework on his adversary, putting together equipment and striking quickly, with overwhelming force and using the element of surprise makes complete sense; after all, this guy’s spent his life planning heists, for Christ’s sake. So to see Slott characterize Ock acting this way, even though he’s now Spider-Man, shows just how much thought he’s put into this plotline and the character of Otto Octavius. It is more interesting than the simple idea of, “What if a bad guy got Spider-Man’s body?” would lead you to believe.

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