THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3
“Everything You Know Is Wrong”
WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Ryan Stegman
COLORS: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
- Spiderpus disables Mayor Jameson’s new Bat . . . er, spider signal with a spider-bot. Our “hero” stokes Jameson’s ego by saying only an idiot would set a beacon to reveal his location to his enemies, and Jameson is no idiot, so this must have been a test.
- Spiderpus finds the Vulture using magnet-tracking goggles. Knowing that Adrian Toomes has only ever wanted one big score on which to retire, Spiderpus offers his former ally fifty million dollars to give up crime. Vulture thinks Spiderpus makes this offer in jest, and unleashes his henchmen. When Spiderpus discovers that the Vulture’s minions are all masked children, Otto recalls the abuse he received as a child. Spiderpus controls the spider signal via his spider-bot and uses it to blind Vulture in midair with super-intense light. Spiderpus crashes the Vulture into the lamp, knocking Vulture out.
- Meanwhile, Ghost Peter drifts through scenes from Otto’s memories.
- Carlie Cooper has figured out Ock’s secret, but still does nothing about it.
Behold, my favorite Superior Spider-Man issue so far. Otto’s quest to get laid receives zero page time, for once, and ghost Peter’s excursion into Otto’s memories means we get less of his obnoxious commentary on the main action. There’s no “crazy town banana pants” this time. Instead, we get a fun encounter between Spiderpus and the Vulture, albeit one that raises a few questions.
First question: what access to Otto’s thoughts does Ghost Peter have? Last issue showed Peter saying “who thinks like that?” when Otto thought the words “opening gambit.” And who could forget Peter’s observance of Otto’s sexual fantasies? Yet, here Peter says he does not know Otto’s plan for dealing with the Vulture.
Second question: The Vulture’s gang is composed entirely of small children in bird costumes that he pays off with arcade game tokens? Seriously? That’s a little . . . dumb, right? It’s not just me? Where does he find this many runaway first-graders competent enough to stage intricate heists and willing to throw women off of buildings in exchange for a go at Dance Dance Revolution?
Besides that stuff, I liked everything about Superior Spider-Man #3. Previously, I expressed displeasure at Spider-Man’s rewriting of Otto’s personality by beaming Spidey’s values into Otto’s mind. Generally, character changes should result from the character’s experiences, not from science fiction contrivances. However, this issue softened my position there. Although the comic present’s Otto’s outrage at the Vulture forcing him to fight children as stemming from Otto’s own childhood experiences with an abusive father, Otto has had limited qualms about hurting children earlier in Slott’s run. For instance, Otto’s plan in Ends of the Earth would have killed most of the children on the planet. So Otto’s behavior here only makes sense when one considers that Peter’s memories have affected Otto’s personality. But because Otto actually has his own reason to empathize with children, this is a logical place from which Peter’s influence can bring out Otto’s goodness. Otto is still Otto, but he’s looking at the world through a new set of eyes. He almost states that sentiment directly, when he tells the Vulture “it’s like I’m looking at you for the first time.” I finally see the type of intuitive character progression I had hoped for from this premise.
I also loved Otto’s attempt to buy the Vulture off with money. It’s a creative way to show how Otto “fights” crime differently from Peter that isn’t just “Otto’s more brutal.” Obviously, Peter would not pay off a criminal because he would not see that as justice (however, Peter would accept money FROM a criminal if he could put it to a charitable cause, as we saw in J. Michael Straczyski’s run). But one can see why Otto would believe simply giving the Vulture the money he’s been after all these years would solve the Vulture problem more permanently than the perpetual cycle of the Vulture going to jail and escaping. Plus, Otto probably sees the Vulture as a friend, or as close to a friend as Otto is capable of having, so it makes sense why Otto would not want to fight him directly at first.
This is Stegman’s final issue for a while, so I should probably say a word or two about his art. I like his work, though I preferred him on Scarlet Spider, probably due to his having assistance from an inker. Stegman’s own inking style, on display in Superior Spider-Man, looks a little grittier and more frayed at the edges. Still, Stegman is my favorite artist to work on the main Spider-Man series in a while. He actually made a fight with the Vulture exciting, and that feat deserves respect considering how little threat the Vulture poses physically.
3.5 Vulture babies out of 5.
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