Really, Really Brief Explanation of The Superior Spider-Man 1-31 (ALL THE SPOILERS)
Doc Ock was terminally ill, so he switched bodies with Peter Parker. Peter Parker’s consciousness died in Doc Ock’s body. Ock took over the mantle of Spider-Man, calling himself the Superior Spider-Man. He essentially became Big Brother (murder and all) by planting tiny Spider-bot cameras throughout the New York where he could monitor all illegal activity. Green Goblin returned, hacked Ock’s system so that it couldn’t detect goblins, and formed Goblin Nation, an underground goblin mafia that overtook New York. Ock, unable to beat Gobbie, gave Peter’s body back to the remnants of Peter’s memory (they totally explained how that worked), and the Amazing Spider-Man beat Goblin.
Okay, the actual review! (With as few spoilers as possible)
So, wait, what about relinquishing his power and the whole “You are the Superior Spider-Man” and all that jazz? Isn’t Doc Ock dead now?
Well, yes. And no.
If you’re anything like I am, you are probably a little bit skeptical about how Amazing/Superior Spider-Man author, Dan Slott, can be continuing his series surrounding Otto Octavius’s antics while inhabiting of Peter Parker’s body after he has already returned physical control. The answer, my friends, is a simple, kind of banal one:
For those of you who kept up with the Superior Spider-Man during his year-and-a-half run, you might recall that in issues 17-20, Spider-Man 2099 was sent back to 2013 in order to protect Tiberius Stone, father of Alchemax CEO Tyler Stone and grandfather of Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099), thereby preventing the entire future from existential collapse. You might also recall that in all of the temporal chaos, Horizon Labs was blown up by unstable chronoton particles, and Superior Spidey disappeared for nine hours after being caught in the explosion.
Issue 32 of Superior Spider-Man begins immediately at the start of those missing nine hours. Because it was caused by accelerated time particles, the Horizon Labs explosion propelled Superior Spider-Man (henceforth referred to as “Ock”) forward into the year 2099. After hijacking some future tech, he builds a time machine in an attempt to get back to 2013. As he arrives back in his own time, Ock realizes that not only has the machine taken him through time, but it has also teleported him into another universe. Conveniently popping up in the middle of burning wreckage, he learns that this universe’s Spider-Man, who has joined as the fifth member of the Fantastic Four, has been slain. Ock takes it upon himself to find and stop whomever or whatever is responsible for this crime.
The Superior Spider-Man series is a very polarizing topic. Since its conception, it’s had a fairly balanced number of readers who either adored it or despised it. Those who love it argue that it’s a fresh look at who Spider-Man could have been; it’s Dan Slott’s taking the “great power” line and turning it on its head. Not to mention that it has provided some incredibly compelling background for a plethora of characters, including Ock himself. People who hated this series, however, basically argue that it’s ridiculous (specifically the concept of brain-swapping) and unnecessary. Why is there any need to change Peter Parker? After all, Peter Parker is the every-person!
To all of these points, I say, “Yes;” and behind all of the Spider-Verse set-up, Superior Spider-Man #32 is basically a continuation of the same debate.
Let me preface this next statement by saying that I love Superior Spider-Man: I loved dreading the ways that he could further muck up Peter’s social life. I loved watching his love for Anna Maria blossom. Slott’s work was brilliant, and I loved all of it. But in reading through this issue, I started getting a little bit tired of Ock’s characterization.
Taking place in the chronological middle of the Superior story arc, Ock is back to his arrogant, cringe-worthy self. After having witnessed the entirety of his character development, including the moment at which Ock surrenders near-infinite power for the woman he loves, falling back into his old personality just quite didn’t feel the same. Close, but no cigar. Is there anything really, intrinsically wrong with the issue? Apart from a few plot “coincidences” and the use of the overdone time-travel mechanism, no, not at all. The story is solid, and it successfully sets up what I think will be a very cool crossover event between all the incarnations of Spider-Man. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was back to reading the same issue of the series I was reading ten months ago.
Brass tacks: should you read Superior Spider-Man #32? Yes, if only because it is the introduction into the Spider-Verse storyline that will be occurring over the next several months. However, if you weren’t a fan of Ock’s initial personality in Superior, you’re not going to enjoy this. If you were a fan, all I suggest is that you take heed that Slott is taking a few steps backward in what we “officially” know about Otto Octavius as a man.
Artistically, the issue was a pleasure. Camuncoli and the other illustrators maintain an incredible attention to detail. For example, there are frames in which you can clearly make out the reflection in Spider-Man’s lenses; there are others in which you can almost feel the texture of flesh. The artists excel in bringing Slott’s/Gage’s words to life.
Overall, I’d give Superior Spider-Man #32 an 8.4/10.