SS1covStrike Spider-Man down and he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

“Hero or Menace”
WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Ryan Stegman
COLORS: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos

The Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus’s personality in Peter Parker’s body, in case you’ve been tuned out) fights a new Sinister Six comprising Boomerang, Shocker, Beetle, Speed Demon, Overdrive (who has “pimped out” Big Wheel’s vehicle—awesome!), and the Living Brain. After the villains retreat, Peterpus (a name coined by someone Bertone interviewed on the release day of Amazing Spider-Man #700, whose name I do not know) enjoys a date with Mary Jane. Using audio gleaned from nano-spider tracers his clawed gloves injected into Boomerang, Peterpus predicts when and where the Sinister Six strike next. Peterpus prepares technological traps for the villains, notifies the media in advance, and easily defeats them as Spider-Man. Spider-Man beats Boomerang severely, but stops short of killing him because Peter Parker won’t allow Otto to kill using Peterpus’s hands. The art depicts Peter as a translucent blue “Jedi ghost” who floats around Peterpus, controlling certain of Peterpus’s actions. Otto cannot see or hear Ghost Peter, and remains unaware of Ghost Peter’s existence.

"You will go to the Dagobah system, Otto."

“You will go to the Dagobah system, Otto.”

On the January podcast, which we recorded before I read this issue but will probably not get released until after I publish this review, my primary “con” with Amazing Spider-Man #700 concerned the mechanism behind Otto Octavius’s personality change. Previous issues established that Peter and Otto could experience each others’ memories, so what did Peter beam into Otto’s mind that Otto did not possess already? More importantly, isn’t explaining a character like Otto’s abrupt decision to fight crime by having new thoughts literally forced into his head a dramatically unsatisfying substitute for gradual, natural character progression? Thankfully, Superior Spider-Man #1 downplays that aspect of Otto’s transformation. This Otto reads 100% true-to-character, and one can adequately explain his actions without reference to #700’s befuddling final scene.

The best elucidation of Otto’s mindset comes in his second battle with the Sinister Six in front of the media, where he proclaims “I get to win! I’M beating the Sinister Six. And Everyone gets to see it! And they’ll get the message! THIS is what happens when you cross this Spider-Man!” Otto has grown sick of humiliation and pain, and he wants to be on the winning side for once. He wants validation. As J.R. explained (or will explain) on the podcast, Otto doesn’t see himself as evil; he believes the world wronged him by depriving him of the recognition he deserves. Considering that, Otto continuing Spider-Man’s work in his own glory-seeking, egotistical way does not depart from his established traits.

Respect the wheel.

Respect the wheel.

Stealing jokes from the Simpsons, Slott?

Stealing jokes from the Simpsons, Slott?

Otto is still Otto. The way he acts and carries himself in Peter’s body, and his use of words like “dolts” and “unmitigated gall” has not gotten old yet. Soon, supporting cast members should notice the change or else they will look stupid. Characters like Mary Jane or Aunt May shouldn’t be fooled for very long at all. But for issue #1, this is still fun.

In a key scene, Otto laments that Peter Parker’s name, not his own, will receive credit for his achievements. However, Otto tells himself that he needs to accept that he is Peter Parker now. This should create a long term conflict within Otto because that rationalization should not quench his ego long term. For now, though, this makes sense. The second Otto reveals his true identity, he loses the life he worked so hard to steal. He would resume being hated and being a fugitive. Ultimately, Doc Ock’s ego must overpower his reason—that’s what makes him Otto—but his resolve can wear down gradually.

Although Otto retains the desire to kill, apparently Peter has returned as a ghost who will prevent Otto from crossing that line. I like that Marvel has so swiftly abandoned the pretense that Peter will not return. We all know how this works in comics, so belaboring the fantasy that Amazing Spider-Man #700 presented Peter’s actual death would have proven tedious, especially when the circumstances of the “death” were so bereft of verisimilitude that exclusively the struthious elided hypothesizing imminent recrudescence. And look, Peter is back one issue later.

The “twist” of Peter’s return serves this story well. There needed to be a way to keep Otto within the boundaries of quasi-heroic behavior without disregarding his character traits or relying on a contrived modification of said traits. Also, this keeps Peter in the book, giving us someone to root for while Otto acts despicably. Unlike in the recent “deaths” of Captain America, Batman, and Human Torch, we’ll actually see Peters reaction to a world without him in it as the events unfold. That has me interested.

For instance, Peter will surely have something to say about Otto’s courting of Mary Jane, during which Otto identifies his favorite part of Peter’s life:

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 12.58.52 PM

I somewhat resent the use of first person perspective because it forces me to look through the eyes of someone who is taking advantage of the object of his gaze in a profoundly creepy way. This type of scene makes you glance over your shoulder to ensure no one can see what you’re reading. Granted, one would undoubtedly expect this behavior from Otto’s ilk in this situation. This is not poor Otto writting, but it is lackluster Mary Jane writing. Every Mary Jane appearance since Otto first took over Peter’s body has seemed preoccupied with Otto conning his way into her pants. Even in ASM #699, where Mary Jane did not appear physically, we saw Peter’s anxious daydream of Peterpus poised to violate her. Thus, for four consecutive issues, Slott has portrayed MJ as nothing other than the unaware target of a psychotic killer’s predatory sex schemes. Slott, please give MJ something more to do, or at least don’t portray her as so passive. Even if she cannot tell Peter isn’t Peter, what type of person tolerates being treated this way?

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 (Good). I loved every part besides the MJ scene.


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(35) Comments

  1. CrazyChris - Post author

    Thanks for the heads up, tickbite. "Coming Home" is one of my favorites, too. It was the first Spider-Man story to come out that was both new and excellent since I started reading. I'll get around to trying this book someday, even if it does take a while for me to find the time and clear out my backlog of books I've started but haven't finished.

  2. tickbite

    Chris, the Jim Butcher novel (The Darkest Hour, I think) is the only Spidey novel I have read. Highly recommended. It ties in to the Coming Home arc by JMS, which I have sort of a soft spot for. MJ always struck me as somebody who could take care of her own, but through JMS she started to grow up from the party girl she once was. In the book, she becomes essential not only for Peter but also for Spider-Man. She's his constant, if you will. Give it a try if you have a couple of hours to kill.

  3. CrazyChris - Post author

    Yeah, it's perfectly valid to say your preference is a book starring Peter instead of a book starring Otto, and you don't like what you've seen thus far enough to set that preference aside. Differing preferences is a good reason to have two reviewers.

  4. Erik Lexie

    @24: It's interesting how much comes down to the little things with how people regard this story. I think the thing for me that really just continues to not sit well isn't that we have a book with a villain for a protagonist. It's that this book has indefinitely replaced the book about Peter, and to me the reasons for doing so, and the quality of the outcome, are way too dubious to justify it.

  5. CrazyChris - Post author

    Nick, agreed. Enigma, regarding the "heroic" "send-off" from #700, I didn't like it because I do not like the idea of a character's personality being rewritten in a way that circumvents to need for logical, gradual character growth. Beaming a new set of values into Ock's brain and having him act differently just seems dramatically lame to me. So actually, I would LIKE for that scene to be mostly pointless and have no effect, because having Ock's character progress naturally would be better. If the ending of #700 turns out to be nothing more than one more thing Peter tried that didn't work, then all the better. And I have a feeling what Peter tried is going to have something to do with the explanation for how his "ghost" is still hanging around, so at the very least it will have served that purpose. Douglas, well, when it comes to ASM ending I don't care. That has no impact whatsoever on my opinion of the story because the particular title and number on the cover isn't part of the story; it's a part of the marketing. As for whether the story is spanning more issues than it deserves, I think that's something that can only be evaluated in retrospect once we know what the whole story actually is. All I know is that, so far, I have not read an issue about Otto as Spider-Man that made me think the creators have run out of ideas that warrant the concept's continuation. When we get to that point, then I'll start saying this should have been a shorter story.

  6. Douglas Ernst

    Chris, I think the idea is interesting to explore, but the execution of it (no pun intended) was botched on almost every level by Marvel. This could have been a story arc that took six, seven issues and I would have been find with it. Instead, they just ended ASM in a manner that just left a horrible taste in my mouth.

  7. Nick MB

    What @24 said. And indeed, he's the protagonist, not the hero. "Superior" is just how he sees himself, his actions are still being portrayed as dubious in the comic. People seemed to be concerned that Ock would be shown as genuinely awesome and much better at it than Peter, and so far we've had not much like that. He might be more efficient in some ways, but his methods have been dirtied up to get there. We're still rooting for Peter to either defeat him or somehow make him a better person, and Peter is still there to root for.

  8. CrazyChris - Post author

    Douglas, who said "all is forgiven"? I see nothing in this comic that asks me to forgive Otto, to hope he ultimately escapes punishment, or even to like him. All this comic is asking of readers is to be interested in him. And so far I am. That doesn't in any way imply I think he's a good person. It just means I am interested in seeing how his mind works and how he interacts with people. Is there something inherently wrong with a villain–protagonist?

  9. Douglas Ernst

    Chris, he's more than creepy. The "protagonist" is someone who only issues earlier said he wanted to transcend Pol Pot and Hitler. He also has the track record to prove he made an honest go at it. But hey, he's Spider-Man now, so all is forgiven. Who cares about that little thing called the rule of law. I'm glad you've found a "protagonist" you can fork over cash on. I'll be saving my disposable income for something else.

  10. CrazyChris - Post author

    Jeremy, interesting point about the structure. You're right. Masterwslinger, I'm sure Dan Slott will get around to posting the explanation for how Peter's a ghost on his twitter feed eventually. Douglas and Nick, two pages out of twenty on the subject of Otto going on a date with MJ and looking at her boobs is not enough to trigger my rape outrage, and I agree with Nick that the farthest this is likely to go is Otto attempting to sleep with MJ and Peter stopping him. But Douglas, you're right that it's creepy. Otto's a bad guy and being creepy in this situation is what he would do. If you really hate being creeped out, then by all means don't read a series with a creep for a protagonist. LooNEY, I hope this excursus becomes ephemeral. So far it's just pretty good. natecore, interesting theory about Ock eventually finding MJ repulsive. Let's see if the go that route. Erik, I think it does enhance the story by creating a sense of anxiety that couldn't really be matched otherwise. My problem isn't that the topic is brought up at all, it's that it's being done in a way that makes MJ look like passively floating shark bait. She should at least be chewing Peter out for acting like an asshole by now. tickbite, I've never read any Jim Butcher. I assume you're referring to his Spider-Man novel. What's so great about his Mary Jane writing? irishlad, it's not the rack that gives people heebie jeebies, it's the context surrounding the person who's looking at it! Madgoblin, yeah, I didn't pay the extra ten bucks to get the verisimilitude covered under the warranty, so I had to just throw it out. Fixing those things costs more than just buying a new one, anyway.

  11. Nick MB

    @17 Nope, for two reasons: A) I'm still not buying that he's going to actually cross that line, I don't think it's as inevitable as you're phrasing it. I think it'll be teased, but he'll ultimately decide not to. B) Every body swap story has the disguised villain creeping around the hero's girlfriend, it's absolutely a standard part of the arc. Bendis has written two body swap/impersonation with Ultimate Peter (one with Wolverine for laughs, one serious with the Chameleon). and fake-Peter ended up messing around with MJ to some degree in both stories. Joss Whedon wrote a Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode where Faith (the evil slayer) took over Buffy's body and actually did sleep with her boyfriend. So I don't really buy your premise that this is some unseen depth of depravity Dan Slott is sinking to. He's using the same box of tricks as everyone else, and why shouldn't he? I mean, if you think MJ is being written too stupid, then fair enough, there's an argument there. But the idea that the material released so far is overly sick and creepy and we should be particularly offended doesn't stand up, to me.

  12. tickbite

    Spot-on review, Chris. I'm surprised how well Slott writes Spider-Ock here. And having Peter come back with a vengeance so early was a great move. I agree with what you say about MJ. If Slott wants to know how to write a proper MJ, he should get some lessons from Jim Butcher ...

  13. Erik Lexie

    My biggest concern was that the book was going to try to get me to root for Otto to become more of a hero while he was still up to no good with MJ. Based on this issue I think that's not going to happen. I'm still not wild about it, but I never thought Slott was crazy enough to actually have them sleep together and I'm even more sure that won't happen now. However, that doesn't change the fact that I find it unpleasant to read about, and don't see any way that it enhances the story. Mary Jane is smarter than this, and I agree with Chris about that one panel. That's too close to wink wink nudge nudge at the reader.

  14. Douglas Ernst

    @15 — It's downright creepy and sick. How about the Superior Spider-Voyeur or the Superior Spider-Wannabe-Rapist, is that better? Those could serve as a place-holders until he actually crosses the rubicon.

  15. natecore

    The SpOck-MJ dynamic is the best thing going. A decrepit, dying old man is going to love the vertility of his new self and thats reflected in the pure lust he has for MJ's body making him so deplorable, but ultimately he finds her repulsive (as we're learning SpOck feels about pretty much anybody) and thats a refreshing twist. Yeah, one day MJ will begin to address "Pete's" new behavior but you gotta think she is once again enjoying his dating company and could be looking past his obvious obnoxiousness/a-holeness. I was sold on SpOck with Yost's Avenging 15.1 and with Pete's reveal at the end of Superior #1 I'm fully on board with where Slott is taking this story. #2 can't get here fast enough. My only concern is I hope I'm able to hate Ock as much as I want to right now (i'm on a 2 where I want to be on 10) b/c it'll only make Pete's ultimate ascension even better.

  16. Nick MB

    @13 Because he hasn't raped anyone yet, and with Ghost-Peter hovering over his shoulder and stopping him doing bad things, he probably won't?

  17. LooNEY_DAC

    Actually, not solely the purposefully myopic but additionally the peremptory purveyors of sanctioned hyperbole decried, derided and denied the learned prognostications of this being an ephemeral excursus.

  18. Masterwslinger

    I am interested in knowing how and why Peter's still around vs being with his Uncle Ben. I wonder if there are any scenes that explain it. Thanks for the review. This isn't as bad, but still creepy with Ock's... lustful eyes. Well, 'Peterpus'. Glad he has some name.

  19. Jeremy

    Good review, well-executed one-off Spidey issue. Reminded me of the first Shocker issue, which is I always refer to the classic three-act structure of a Spidey issue. 1. Introduce (new) threat to Spidey, action scene, bad guy slips away(or in this reverse, good guy runs away!), 2. Peter interacts with the supporting cast, plots a way to beat the bad guy(s), 3. Spidey confronts the rogue(s) again, smarter and better prepared, bif-bam-POW, Spidey wins, happy ending. Throw in some great artwork, some humor, hey you got yourself an entertaining Spider-Man issue. This doesn't divert from that formula, but it doesn't have to; the hook being the Ock-as-Peter so every one of required beats of the formula is just that much more different and that much more interesting. So yeah, I digging it right now. 7/10 feels about right. A good beginning.

  20. spideytothemax

    For me the clueless MJ stuff has already outstayed it's welcome. That's on top of the fact that I don't know why MJ is even pursuing Peter again? His situation hasn't changed since the end of OMIT. She's still going to be in terrible danger as long as she's with him. I really need to see what she's thinking to get behind this at all. I'm not really feeling Otto's desire to be a good guy at all though, and I'm not sure why experiencing Peter Parker's sob story would prompt him to do anything other than have a good chuckle. Seems to me that he's basically a Thunderbolt, back when they were injecting them with nanites to keep them under control. He's only good because he really doesn't have a choice. I assume that's going to change in a gradual way, and it isn't something I'm excited to see. I've got no problem with the whole mind-swap mega-plot though, so I'd say this was a pretty mediocre first issue. Great review Chris. Are you the sole reviewer now or is Eric Lexie still in the game?

  21. CrazyChris - Post author

    Stillanerd, I think a lot of the criticisms you mentioned are things I'm going soft on because this is the first issue. If another issue comes out where people aren't commenting on Peter acting like an a-hole, and Otto's personality doesn't tone down just a smidge, then I'll get more annoyed. Cubman, I'd call MJ's four appearances in the past three issues plenty of opportunity for her to have some role other than being Doc Ock's sex target. And she's really letting me down by putting up with how much of an a-hole Peter has acted towards her. Kevin, that's because I've been reviewing a really mediocre title for a while. Don, hehehehe... Eddie, for some reason I really like Stegman even though I can't stand Ramos. I'll be thinking about what the difference is, because I recognize that their style have common traits.

  22. EddieD

    This book wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. What ticked me off was Marvel saying this is the new, permanent Spidey, when this is clearly a temporary story of 'how much of Peter's life can Doc Ock screw up before Peter finds a way back'. That would be interesting to read. My main complaint, the art. I'm not crazy about Stegman's or Ramos's art. Spidey is one of Marvel's flagship characters and a more prominent artist should be on board. I deeply miss Marcos Martin!!!

  23. Kevin Cushing

    Great to have you reviewing this book, Chris. It's a book I was looking forward to, and I always look forward to your reviews, so this made the issue double the fun for me. I think this is the first time you've reviewed an issue we both liked in...can't remember the last time!

  24. cubman987

    I don't think MJ has really had a chance to do much yet becaue the story has been focussing more on other aspects right now, but I'm guessing that it's coming. She has to notice how different he is and even if she hasn't said anything yet I'm sure there will be a point where she brings it up. Hopefully soon though, cause otherwise I'm in agreement that she need to be used for more than she has been in 700 and this.

  25. stillanerd

    Well, I (sort of) called it on the possibility that Peter was somehow still in his mind and would act like Doc Ock's Jiminey Cricket, but I certainly didn't picture him pulling an Obi-Wan Kenobi, LOL! And like the apparent premise, I'm of two minds about this. I agree with you Chris in that I'm glad to see that Slott didn't needlessly drag out Peter's eventual return, but I still thought the reveal of Force Ghost Pete was still ridiculous. I also agree with you that Doc Ock (or SpOck) is written in character, but I can just tell that, based on how he's portrayed here, he's really going to get on readers nerves the same way Alpha did. And I'm in complete agreement with you regarding how Mary Jane is being handled throughout all of this. Seriously, how can she NOT tell that "Peter" isn't Peter at this point?

  26. FoxUni

    Yeah, no problem. Cause I know 3.99 comics get codes, except for MAX. Thought Superior was like everything else, just checking

  27. CrazyChris - Post author

    If you're asking if I'm doing a digital code giveaway, the answer is no. I'm buying my comics digitally, so I have no code to give. Sorry.

  28. FoxUni

    Nice review. I think this has some serious potential, especially with the 2099 news (was there no code for this, or is it going to something else?)

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