The Superior Spider-Man is easily the most controversial thing to happen to superhero comics since DC’s New 52 relaunch in 2011. Is it as earth shattering? Not really. It’s the kind of story that can be “fixed” in a few months if they want. Spider-Man stories have a knack for getting plucked in and out of continuity which many are hoping will happen with this newfound plot, but after having read it I can say I kind of like where it’s headed, and be warned this ain’t your grand-daddy’s Spider-Man.
In case you’ve been living in a hole in the ground, I’ll recap for you. At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Peter Parker and Doc Ock swapped bodies. Peter died inside Doc Ock’s body and his memories were imprinted into Ock’s mind in his original body. Having realized everything that Peter has done throughout the years, Octavius decides to take up the mantel of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and be the best Spider-Man, the Superior Spider-Man. This is where our story starts.
Writer Dan Slott has been with Spider-Man for a long time now and since the dialogue he’s now writing is Doc Ock trying to be Peter Parker, it’s got a breath of fresh air into the panels. It’s a very peculiar situation that Octavius finds himself in in the series and Slott writes the character pretty perfectly for the circumstances. Slott knows these characters by now so none of them feel awkward or out of place, except for the ‘newly formed’ Sinister Six. It’s hard to distinguish any of the villains, especially their dialogue, but the root of this problem might be in the artwork (more on that below).
What I like about Slott’s Spider-Man stories is that the plots are so grandiose. There haven’t been a lot of issues where Spider-Man must face the mundane and the simple. It’s always over the top and absurd, but enjoyable. Superior Spider-Man is setting up a story that has already shaken the Marvel U and it’s fanbase, but it has the potential to create a big splash as it progresses. What really sets this apart from the other comics at Marvel is that it’s a different approach to being heroic. With a science-minded villain in a hero’s body, he approaches situations from a different perspective than Peter would. If anything it makes for an interesting twist on the hero’s journey.
If you’ve picked up a Spider-Man comic in the past four years, then you’ve got an idea of what the art will look like here. Ryan Stegman’s art isn’t bad, but so many of the panels are overcrowded and busy that it gets confusing. While it maintains a proper sense of sequence throughout, there are almost too many details in the frame at times, especially the action sequences. The biggest surprise art wise is that the color pallet seems different from Amazing which is a good move given this is a new series with a new spin on the character. I will also say for a debut issue there’s a surprising lack of splash pages and full body shots of Spidey.
The Superior Spider-Man has a really ambitious plot that works surprisingly well. It’s a well-written story with good touches of character, but the artwork just isn’t up to par for what’s going on here. Spider-Man purists might not like what’s going on, but it seems like the future holds something bright for them.
Rating: 7.5 / 10