Superior Spider-Man #1 Review
By: Rob Gruszecki
For fifty years, Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man has kept the streets of New York safe for its inhabitants. Protected civilians from deranged scientists, alien symbiote beings, power mad thugs and even potential humanitarians twisted by their own creations. Travelled interstellar distances, fought amongst Earth’s mightiest heroes, survived personal heartbreak, civil wars, secret invasions, brand new days and final chapters. The catalyst for such sacrifice, only a few words from a kindly soul, lost too soon to petty crime. Parker’s endurance through tumultuous pain has had an affect on all those he battled beside and with. Some so much that after being another of the many altered by their own backwards schemes they find themselves fighting for the same reasons and carrying on the legacy that is the Spider-Man.
After 700 issues the Amazing Spider-Man has come to an end to usher in a new era for the character and for the shared Marvel Universe. After sparing Otto Octavius’ life yet again, Peter Parker falls victim to the mind of the evil genius when Otto’s is literally swapped into his body, abandoning Peter in the slowly dying form of his nemesis. In his final moments however Octavius’ plan is altered by the consciousness of a hero upon which is bestowed the understanding of the fragile and vulnerable nature of life. With this, Otto, now piloting the body of Parker (memories and experiences included) vows to become a Superior specimen, heralding the banner of the Spider-Man, which brings us to Now.
Peter Parker is DEAD… Kinda… But he totally is… Except not really… Or is he?
It’s finally here. We can all cease and desist our insane death threats, furious blog posts and unprecedented over-reactions. Dan Slott has released the first instalment of The Superior Spider-Man for Marvel Now and all is explained, loose ends tied up, directions teased and doubts pacified. We can at last read for ourselves the aftermath of the 700th issue of ASM and believe me all is well.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s dead… Sorta
What Dan Slott is crafting is at its heart, an exciting and truly unique story for the wall-crawler. One that has birthed an all-new title that is equal parts classic web-head action and sparkly new sci-fi character drama. Similar dynamics exist (bad guys terrorize city, super-hero swings in to the pulverize them and save the day) while being presented from a much different angle. No longer is our Spidey a wisecrackin’, pun-fueled nerd, but instead he is a gruff, impatient, condescending and at times rude recluse. The perspective is both refreshing and very entertaining. At the same time as telling a perfect ‘What if Doc Ock used his powers for good?’ storyline we also get lots of enjoyable teases as to whatever happened to our favorite Horizon Labs employee. In the pages of Superior we see old loves, new villains and a Spider-Man that is as devious as his rivals, plotting against his enemies and fighting crime in a way only an evil mastermind mixed with great responsibility could do. Slott’s storytelling is at its finest within the pages of Superior and any fan of his previous run on Amazing will definitely enjoy the new ongoing series. That being said, although heaped in continuity and much of the issue hinging on the weight of the previous Dying Wish storyline, new readers will feel at ease with a cohesive explanation on the title page and a very accessible pace and flow with which Slott writes. If you intended on starting with this new number 1 you would be making a wise decision as not only would all be easily picked up but also what we have in Superior is the start of something very special and simply a blast to read.
Of course the scripting and plotting is only half the package and fortunately the other half is handled by the deft pencils of Ryan Stegman who’s work in Superior is absolutely breathtaking. We get eye candy that delivers moments of comic mayhem to stills worthy of wall mounts to tame moments of exposition that all drive the book along at an excellent rate. Stegman’s storytelling is fluid and effortless bringing you to the finish line in what ends all too soon, leaving you already drooling over the concept of issue #2. The expressions of the new Parker show off mischievous intent, intense concentration and humorous responses to staples of the Spidey world that showcase our new protagonist as a clear deviation from the norm but also one that is completely empathetic and enjoyable. This Otto/Peter mashup is drawn dastardly, pompously and yet you love him and every panel featuring him.
So you can take a breath now. You’re favorite comic and character is in good hands, True Believer. Give this book the time of day and see that what has been put together here is in no way an abomination, a desecration, an abhorrent dismantling of your childhood memories but instead a Spider-Man story that is shaping up to be one of the better arcs in the long and wonderful history we’ve been reading all this time.
Peter Parker is ALIVE… I think… Or he’s dead or something… maybe?
Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior
Follow him on twitter @Ghost_Factory
Listen to his music www.ghostfactorymusic.com
Read more of his comic reviews (Dear, Ghost Factory. What Should I Read?) or listen to the Comics Round-up weekly Podcast both found at www.flashfact.org