Jason: Oh, hey, Peter Parker’s back in the red and blue. The hero has returned to his own body, Ock has been exiled, and everything is back to normal.
Well, sort of.
See, the Superior Spider-Man has changed Peter’s world, in some ways for the better and in some ways for the worse. As Dan Slott’s fast-moving script reminds us in this revival issue, Peter’s business is moving ahead quickly; his relationships have evolved in major ways; the people of New York have come to hate his alter-ego; and he’s earned his Ph.D. It’s been a busy few months for Otto Octavius in Peter’s body, and the world of Spider-Man really will never be the same.
I wasn’t a steady reader of Superior Spider-Man, but I’d frequently dip a toe into the waters that Slott created for Otto Octavius and I always enjoyed those sojourns. Though many of us fans predicted abject failure for the idea of Doctor Octopus’s brain in Peter Parker’s body, Slott proved his naysayers wrong with a comic that became fresh and new, refreshing the franchise with a quick burst of tension and change. It seemed that Peter Parker had become complacent in his life, and like having a life coach in your body that encourages you to be aggressive and bold, ol’ Otto made Peter into a new man.
This issue does a solid job of playing off those tensions as Peter struggles to move ahead from the life that he imagined. I loved the frequent scenes where Parker seems to shift uncomfortably on the balls of his feet, unsure what approach to take to the unexpected dilemmas that he faces. Clearly the placing of Ock in Peter’s head has changed the status quo of this book in dramatic ways that will pay off for the long term.
Unfortunately, I’ve never liked Humberto Ramos’s artwork, so I struggled a bit with enjoying this lead story. I keep getting hung up on problems with anatomy and forced perspective in his art, and there were a few scenes that just did not work at all for me.
As for the many back-ups, I think we should just briefly touch on them, Kevin – unless one strikes you as essential – and skip entirely the included copy of Inhuman #1, a worthy topic for another essay.
My favorite backup piece was the quickie for Spider-Man 2099, which combines gorgeous art by Will Sliney with an intriguing spider-out-of-water premise by Peter David. This short does what I thought was impossible and gets me interested in reading this upcoming series. And “Learning to Crawl”, the teaser for Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl, which premieres later this month, has a charming vibe that also makes me want to pick up that comic.
Kevin, what did you think of this comic? Does Slott swing or snap on his web, and does Ramos depress or delight?
Kevin: As someone who was really into Superior but kind of drifted away as it went on, I felt right at home coming back to it. Like Peter, I had remembered the big things: Otto was in Spidey’s body, the relationship with Anna, the doctorate, Parker Industries. But the little things just completely lost me. Robot butler? What?
Luckily, Slott was smart enough to put Peter in a similar spot. While he cracks super-awkward jokes and finds himself in similarly unlucky situations as before, he is thrown into the mix with ‘his’ girlfriend, his job, and his life. It works for those like me who read it up front and, I assume, for those who had waited the year and a half until it was all over. That’s actually pretty funny, really. I wonder if there’s anybody out there whose last issue before this was Amazing #700. What a bizarre read this must have been!
I completely agree with you about Ramos’ art. His faces are inconsistent and strange, his drawing is as static as ever. I suppose,especially in a dynamic like Spidey’s (which requires a rotating art team to make the 2x/month deadline) you would need to have someone who could consistently crank out pages. But it’s a serious drag on the book, and it’s why I’ve been reading at a distance. When even a three-page, jokey strip looks better than the main story, you know you’ve got a problem.
See, with the exception of the dull Scarlet Spider story, I really dug these backups. Mainly because so many of them pretty much directly tie into something else, with the most real estate taken up by stories soon to appear in the main Amazing story. Hell, even that first page is designed to get you ready for the Original Sin tie-ins coming up. Caramagna and Eliopoulos’’ “How My Stuff Works”, despite not doing this, was cute and brief enough for me to hunger for some kind of lighthearted anthology, in the vein of Marvel’s alternative talent show Strange Tales a couple of years back.
Plus, man, the Peter David Spidey 2099 story is so great, isn’t it? The art, too, was phenomenal. I’ve been looking forward to this since the rumors coming out of New York Comic Con all but confirmed the relaunch. I am a longtime fan of Miguel, so this is big for me. Especially since they got Peter David to come back on. It was nice, but I want more and I want it now, damn it!
>Oh, also, since when is New Avengers #1 a classic? I might be just a kid– 21, full disclosure– but that’s so crazy to me. And don’t even get me started about Inhuman. What a wasted opportunity. But I guess you’re right, that’s another story for another time…