Real Talk: Superior Spider-Man #1A comic review article by: Dylan B. Tano, Jason Sacks
Some comics are too big, hypeworthy or insane for one reviewer to cover. Which is why we have Real Talk, an outlet for a group of reviewers to tackle a comic together and either come to a consensus or verbally arm wrestle until there's nothing left to say.
Dylan: Lets get this out of the way. Doctor Octopus has placed his mind into Peter Parker's body, but not before Peter did some Vulcan-esque mind melding to show Doc Ock just what "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" means. All caught up comrades? Good. Superior Spider-Man puts the octopus behind the mask; where he proceeds to make a total ass of himself. Personally, I found it hilarious. Jason?
"Of all the unmitigated gall! Well, I guess they're letting anyone call themselves the Sinister Six these days."
So screams Doc Ock as Spider-Man as he leaps to attack the latest, and really the lamest, Sinister Six that has ever been seen in the pages of Spider-Man comics. It sets the tone perfectly for this comic, and does a wonderful job of establishing the real character of the newly superior Spider-Man. Not only is he an incredibly eccentric and arrogant genius, but the new Spider-Man is also kind of a stand-in for the readers. In him, we can see ourselves laughing at a team that contains third-rate villains like Boomerang and Shocker using the Big Wheel to terrorize New Yorkers.
"Can't believe Parker put up with this. The man must have been insane."
Dylan, were we insane to be worried that this switchover might not end up being great comics?
Dylan: Dolts! We were dolts to think Dan Slott wouldn't bring home the bacon in this first issue. The great thing is that those third-rate villains were actually getting the upper hand on ol' Octo-Spidey. He was actually fleeing the scene before his body decided to act on its own to save a cop from a renegade boomerang. This isn't the Spider-man we're used to, but there is still a lot of humor -- a living brain in robot suit that was given pain receptors comes to mind. The indignant nature of Octo-Spidey's interaction with everyone cracked me up every step of the way.
Of course he didn't just inherit the mask; he also inherited the life of Peter as well. Gone is the disheveled, unfocused and self conscious Puny Parker. Outside of those eight crazy limbs Otto Octavius welded, he was a pretty accomplished scientist. He doesn't fit right in of course, he has to reconcile the fact that from now own his achievements are Peter's.
But when you get to have dinner with the lovely Mary Jane Watson, well... Spocky quickly decides it is okay to be Pete, doesn't he Jason?
Jason: Yes, I think it's obvious that Spocky is very happy at that part of the turn of events. Wait, women won't just talk to him now, but they'll even go to dinner and wear slinky black dresses. Somehow this idea of being a hero just gets better and better, doesn't it? I just love the look on Peter's face (great job, Ryan Stegman) as Ock enjoys the view across the table from him at dinner. It's a good bet that Otto Octavius has never sat across from anyone like Mary Jane Watson at the dinner table before.
And that page is yet another example of how well the humor works in this comic in combination with the plot. Neither plot nor humor are over-emphasized in this book; instead, Slott seems most concerned about keeping the story light and fun but also compelling.
I thought it was really cool how Ock expanded Peter's abilities using world-class science. Do you think the section towards the end is going to be a completely different element of Octo-Spidey's world that we've never really explored before?
Dylan: You mean the proactive as opposed to the reactionary? I think so. Slott has been toying around with Peter using his science background as Spider-Man for a while and I think he is really ready to run with it. As for that whole scene, I thought it was excellent. It added a fresh way for Spider-man to attack his enemies. Here is a one-time villain who is going to know a lot more than Petey ever did about how these guys operate and is far more focused than Parker ever was. I actually hope they keep it like this. I find it really refreshing. On the flip side of that, Doc Ock has never held life in the greatest regard. After all this man caused the death of Captain Stacy and attempted to scorch the planet in the "Ends of the Earth" storyline.
Speaking of Stegman's artwork, I loved the change in fashion of the story. Peter went from pretty much dressing like a college kid to rocking the mad scientist look one minute and dressing like Patrick Bateman the next. Between Slott's spot on dialogue and Stegman's excellent artwork I have to agree that they struck a near perfect balance of light and fun while also compelling to use your words.
Now, as Deadpool said in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (I'm paraphrasing), "They'll never let you kill, Spider-Man." Spider-Man had no idea what he meant before getting his head blown off, but Wade makes a good point. Spider-Man doesn't kill. And Slott, I feel, blew his plot for the whole year early with the big spoiler at the end when Peter appeared like Swayze in Ghost to stay Spocky's hand against Boomerang. What'd you think of that Jason?
Jason: Will Peter stop Ock from killing or is that just a red herring to think that that's what will happen? After all, the big story for this book in 2013 (aside from the obvious one of, when will Peter be back in his own body -- to which the answer is "when is the next Spider-Man movie coming out?") is how much influence Peter will have on ol' Ocky. Can Peter's inherent goodness triumph over Otto's inherent nastiness? I'd like to think that Slott is smart and creative enough to keep us readers guessing. And my guess is that Slott will keep things from sliding too much into the kind of muddled niceness that would bore everybody, including both Slott and Octavius.
Still, as we all know, the ultimate theme for Spider-Man is that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility™ so is it possible that this whole storyline will be about the slow redemption of Doctor Octopus? Is Slott going to take this story in an unexpected direction and actually slowly show that good can triumph over evil because that is its responsibility? Is Peter in effect kept alive as a ghost in his own body because he needs to force Ocky to be responsible? If so, isn't that a brave and interesting idea? Am I talking out of my web-shooters, Dylan, or do you think this is a possibility?
Dylan: In a way the story of Doc Ock and Spider-Man has always been a battle of wills. These two are mirrors of each other. They're both brilliant scientists that had accidents completely throw them off their desired path. One turned to the path of good, choosing to take responsibility for what his new found powers gave him while the other let his mind become twisted and bitter.
So no Jason, I don't think you're talking out of your webshooters on this one. I definitely think you hit the nail on the head actually. As for Slott's writing ability I completely trust him to deliver the goods on this story arc. He isn't the most subtle writer in the world, but what he lacks in subtlety he more than makes up for it in terms of "going there." We have to remember this is the guy who kept killing off the Great Lakes Avengers. I fully expect a nasty and mean Spider-Man with Octavius under the mask while Peter futilely tries to keep him from crossing that line.
I've got to admit that I wasn't one of those who was worried too much about this whole thing when it was announced. Of course I grew up in the '90s when Ben Reilly was under the mask and Peter was about to have a kid. That being said, I think Slott has laid the groundwork for an amazing Spider-man story, and an splendid Octavius redemption piece.
Would you agree Jason?
Jason: I'm not a big reader of Spider-Man comics and haven't been for a long time. I have nothing against the character, I just feel like I've read enough good Spider-Man comics in my lifetime and don't need to read still more. I mean, I know Peter and Mary Jane and JJJ and Doc Ock, so why dip back into that water again?
But Dan Slott has gotten me interested again in this character that I used to know so well. He's created a new twist that's not exactly different from anything we've seen in comics before -- after all, I'm sure there are lots of Golden Age stories where the heroes and villains change brains, but that change has never lasted for an indefinite amount of time with one of the line's most iconic characters. This is different from the Ben Reilly story, you know? It feels important, it feels like it has consequences, and it also feels really damn intriguing.
Oh yeah, and this storyline feels fun. We can't forget the fun! This book had a pretty high giggle-to-page count, and some wonderfully clever moments. Slott has set himself up to succeed on a few different levels, and I'm going to enjoy watching to see if he can achieve his goals.
Dylan: I couldn't have said it better myself, Jason.
Dylan B. Tano is a relatively new reviewer powered by a love of bacon and constantly distracted by a kitten who would rather use his laptop as a bed. He grew up idolizing Spider-Man and can’t believe he gets to review comics all day.
You can read some of his short stories at tanoworks.tumblr.com