Superior Spider-Man #25 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki

It’s been over a year since Doctor Octopus has taken over the mind and body of Peter Parker and at least half of that time any traces of Peter have been erased from the psyche of the new Superior Spider-Man leaving only the mind of one of the greatest enemies Peter has ever known in complete control. Erratic, militant, aggressive and suspicious the new Superior model has carried on the legacy of Parker to the best of his ability however this has begun to involve capital punishment and means to an end that are completely out of character for the beloved Avenger and web head. His recent actions have yet again gained the attention of his fellow Avengers who have already put him on probation and are now flying to meet a symbiote possessed Spider-Man as he runs amok in the streets of Manhattan wearing the alien partner of agent Flash Thompson as a weapon. Chaos and violence ensue as this Superior Venom battles the likes of heroes out of time, gods of thunder, black ops assassins and beer swilling, adamantium infused Canadians. All close to Peter are concerned and can clearly see that something is awry and with recent images of Peter’s revival from the deepest recesses of his hijacked mind we can rest assured that big changes will be coming soon.

Superior Spider-Man #25 is the final installment of the Darkest Hours storyline dovetailing into next month’s Goblin Nation and the recent announcement of the return of Peter Parker in an All-New Amazing Spider-Man #1 also by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos. Like every arc before it, Darkest Hours marked another excellent opportunity to jump on board with the Superior title with an exciting and entertaining self-contained story complemented by seeds that add to the overall mythos and direction of the character. The Spider-Man series has always been a new reader friendly book with a recap page at the front and stories that really capture the brevity and fun of comic book superheroes while being faithful to the universe continuity and significant enough to further the main thread tying the past few years of Spider-Man together. The death of Peter Parker has spawned some of the best Spider-Man comics in ages and has caused significant ripples in the 616, ramifications that will be felt through many titles.

Dan Slott along with the occasional help from Christos Gage, has commandeered the fate of Peter Parker for years, torturing his very existence and putting the character through torment to even the lengths of his death. His stories have been some of the most entertaining in the Marvel camp and some of the most bold. His recent saga of the Superior Spider-Man has been one such journey, exploding the internet and upsetting Spidey fans all over the world with a storyline that, love it or hate it, has breathed new life into a legendary character and ignited conversation and debate between all comic’s fans. This in itself is a magnificent achievement however simultaneously while inciting controversy and discussion the tales of the Superior Spider-Man have been consistently at the top of the Marvel Now line alongside Hawkeye and Daredevil. The storyline has been invigorating, interesting and the twists and turns along the way have been some of Slott’s best to date. His scripting always keeps you guessing and coming back for more, gladly shelling out the cash for a book that even on occasion has been known to triple ship.

Typically in comics, it is common knowledge that the death of a significant character is only ever a fleeting concept and given a year or so status-quo will be resumed, no harm no foul. While this is true I would strongly disagree that this is a fault with comics. Some of the most interesting and invigorating stories have been developed with the death and inevitable return of a character. What Ed Brubaker did by killing Captain America (however brief his death) was open up a doorway to so many brand new stories and paths that would have never been explored otherwise. His saga of the Winter Soldier is some of the best in comics history and proves that the common knowledge of a character’s return is no more a crutch than the common knowledge of ‘yes, the superheroes are gonna win by the end of the book’ that we all tacitly understand when we pick up any comic book. Grant Morrison, with the death of Bruce Wayne, delivered years of exciting, clever and original stories like the Dick Grayson era of Batman & Robin, Time and the Batman and the most recent and incredible Batman Inc, all with a character that has been around for 75 years, paving the way for many more years beyond again proving that the cliche of ‘death in comics carry no weight’ is merely a jaded oversimplification and dismissal of story opportunity. Dan Slott, with the death of Peter Parker and the adventures of Doctor Octopus as the Superior Spider-Man, has created a perfect example of this, generating a year of quality material and surely causing enough turbulence to fuel stories for years to come with the Web head and his rogues gallery. This run of Superior marked the birth of something different from a character we have followed for a lifetime and to be able to take a character with literally thousands and thousands of stories attached to it and manage to develop something new, fresh and exciting is remarkable.

One of the biggest reasons that Superior Spider-Man has always held top spots in subscriptions and interest is its goliath talent pool of rotating artists. Since its inception the pages have featured the work of Ryan Stegman, Giuseppe Camuncoli and possibly the best Spider-Man artist of the modern age with Humberto Ramos. His work on the Darkest Hours arc is mad brilliance with wildly inventive and action packed panels and intensely expressive character designs. Getting to see the symbiote thrash about uncontrollably is a true joy when driven by the pencils of Ramos and his work in the pages of Superior have been some of his best since Spider Island. Not many in superhero comics today draws action and movement like Ramos and Darkest Hours is a wicked and spastic arc that lets Ramos’ pencils run loose and free on the streets of manhattan with the many whips and lashes that the symbiote’s rage produces. Artistically this over-sized issue features all the craziness you could possibly hope for and all leads to the explosive conclusion of the era of the Superior Spider-Man.

The one hope I have for Slott and Ramos’ Amazing Spider-Man revival, as I can already count on its quality and inventiveness, is that the Superior Spider-Man title continues as to have them run congruently would only mean double the amount of excellence from a creative team currently killing it in comics proven once again with Superior Spider-Man #25. An oversized bookend to a magnificent arc and the feed story for the upcoming Goblin Nation and return of Peter Parker. You really can’t go wrong with the Spider-Man line if it continues to be guided by the mind of Dan Slott and the supreme talents of Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli or Ryan Stegman.

Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday Warrior

Follow him on Twitter @ghost_factory

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