It’s been about 16 months since Doc Ock took over as Spider-Man, which has been just enough time to forget that Spider-Man is supposed to be fun, dammit.
Spider-Man’s supposed to be a wisecrack and an acrobatic move and a triumphant battle against insurmountable odds, while simultaneously Peter Parker’s a self-defeating complaint, an overdue bill he can’t afford to pay and a ruinous relationship that disintegrates against, well, predictable odds. Is it a formula? Sure. Is it soap operatic? Hell, yeah. But it’s a thing that works, and which has been working for 52 years. And it seems like a simple enough formula that we’ve seen so often over the years that we wouldn’t miss it if it was gone for a while… but I did, dammit.
Doc Ock as Spider-Man has been an interesting thought experiment to help reinforce that it’s the character of Peter Parker that makes the comic and not just a power set and a red and blue leotard, but nobody falls in love with a thought experiment unless it’s the Milgram Experiment, and even then it’s only if the enthralled already had a closet full of jackboots. So while it’s been a kinda cool distraction to watch a darker, more obsessed version of Spider-Man, I was ready for it to be over since I already have Batman.
So not only is it just plain good to see Peter back in the saddle in The Superior Spider-Man #31, writer Dan Slott clearly knows it. Because throughout this issue, characters react to Peter being back in costume (despite ostensibly not really knowing that he ever wasn’t the guy in the costume) with a general sense of relief and a sense of return to normal.
And so did I.