Superior Spider-Man #3 Review – Chris’s Take


SuperiorSpider-Man3covWon’t somebody please think about the children? Spoilers and opinions after the jump.

THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3
 “Everything You Know Is Wrong”
WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Ryan Stegman
COLORS: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos

PLOT POINTS:
  • 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.
The Vulture only has two weaknesses: 1) bright lights; and 2) everything else.

The Vulture only has two weaknesses: 1) bright lights; and 2) everything else.

OPINIONS!

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?

You thought the Vulture was a lame villain, but that was BEFORE you knew he had an army of babies.

You thought the Vulture was a lame villain, but that was BEFORE you knew he had an army of babies.

Third question: How much longer will Slott draw out the “Carlie knows” subplot? The more certain she becomes, and the more she inexplicably keeps this knowledge to herself, the more she looks like a horrible person. For all she knows, every word she doesn’t say brings Mary Jane, J. Jonah Jameson, and Aunt May one step closer to web-strangulation when they turn their backs.

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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(42) Comments

  1. tarotista

    Woah this blog is magnificent i like reading your articles. Stay up the good work! You realize, lots of persons are looking round for this info, you could help them greatly.

  2. Lord Alford

    Great review as always Chris, I'm liking the story line so far, mainly because I know it is temporary, so I'm enjoying the new stories for a while. What bothered me about this issue was the crazy town banana pants letter pages. I almost never read the letters and I wish I had not this time. I noticed that many were negative takes on the final issue of Amazing. When they were done with the long list of people who hated the mind switch, Steve Whacker adds a note that if everyone does as they say, the sales will be zero. I remember a pod cast interview about the clone saga where whoever it was being interviewed said that they were getting flooded with letters about how much they did not like Peter being a clone and such. The interviewee said that as long as people were writing in, that meant that they were buying which is what they wanted. I have no problem with Marvel playing with the order of things to get fans riled up to sell more. They are in it to make money. They always come back to status quo to make more money. It's the way of things. So why did Mr. Whacker throw down the gauntlet to these fans. Surely they wanted this reaction or at least expected it? It ruined what would be an otherwise good issue for me. If Whacker and friends want to engage people on internet forums, that's one thing. But to flat out challenge readers to stop buying in the letter pages was tacky. I just want to read a good Spider-Man story, not get drawn into this this spitting contest. What was your take on this? Did you read the letter pages?

  3. Scarletspiderfan

    Just a thought since I don't keep up to date regular with readings... but what became of the new Vulture from BND? Seems like they pretty much scrapped him to go back to the old Vulture. Shame because I thought he was one of BND's better creations.

  4. Enigma_2099

    Folks, they're just trying to find a way to make Carlie important. And she's really not. And all I'll say about her figuring it out is... I F******* KNEW IT. And Ock's showing signs of change? Finally. Let the "redemption" begin. And seriously, I hope it takes. Because if not, that'll be ANOTHER villain that knows everything about Peter.

  5. tickbite

    Chris is right, this is supposed to be the Superior Spider-Man, not The Fugitive. So whether we like it or not, it'll take a while before New York finds out about Otto. I have the feeling we're going to be in for a surprise, though. Didn't Dan Slott tease this series as being more ... gruesome than anything he's written before, including Arkham? I think that, based on Peter's final comment in this issue, Carlie will not get the chance to tell anyone what she knows. I wouldn't be surprised if her role in the book is going to end sooner rather than later.

  6. crutch

    as much as i hate to admit it... i loved this issue. and as much as i like mj... carlie has a spidey tat. that = hot! i like carlie. but i do love mj.

  7. CrazyChris - Post author

    RDMacQ, I wouldn't expect this issue to generate as much discussion as #2. #2 was a historically ridiculous issue. hornacek, I found two places in the issue where it is spelled "Toomes," so I think this was a one-time error. Sbee613, I think the real reason Carlie isn't telling anyone is that it would make it impossible for Slott to tell the stories he wants to tell. He clearly wants to tell a story about Ock living Peter's life. But if people figure out his secret, Ock loses that life because everyone will turn against him. And there's no way someone like MJ could have the possibility of the mind swap suggested to her and not realize it was true. So Carlie's sociopathic silence is the only thing holding this plot together.

  8. RDMacQ

    @#26 Stillanerd- I don't think it's a surefire indication either. But I do believe that it kind of shows that there is a bit of a disconnect between the creators and a lot of the fans. There doesn't seem to be the same passion for this issue that there was for the last one. If anything, the last issue shows that the series isn't going to do anything really radical with this premise, and is pretty much going to play it safe.

  9. RDMacQ

    @#26 stillanerd- Well, I think it might indicate the interest on those "on the fence" or those not already sold on the direction of the book. I still feel if someone isn't sold on Slott by now, they're not going to be and a new direction and a new series isn't going to change that. The only real hope that they might have had was on this one aspect that a lot of people have been wanting a follow up on, but Marvel has been dragging their feet with. And rather than treat it as an important issue, it was treated as a farce with "Peter" making a revelation he already knew (Wow, Peter. MJ is your soul mate? You just realized that? Again?) Now, it's just playing the waiting game as this story plays out to its familiar confines. It's a bodyswap story, that's pretty much following all the familiar elements of a bodyswap story, and will probably end the same way all bodyswap stories do. Marvel did have a chance to really get people excited about this, but their ignorance over the one element that actually seemed to interest people and treating it like an afterthought does -as you stated- kind of show that they laid out all their trump cards way too early.

  10. stillanerd

    @#23 RDMacQ--Yeah, I noticed that as well when I was venturing over there. I'm not going to presume that it's a surefire indication of people's investment in Superior just yet, but I do think you make an astute point about how it appears that Slott and Marvel may have laid all their trump cards out on the table way too early.

  11. Sbee613

    For Carlie not revealing this critical information to anyone just makes it so she can linger around in this poorly planned book. Everyone knows s soon as she tells anyone about peters situation there will be no more use for her and she'll fall by the wayside. I'm glad to hear about the message boards being practically dead over on CBR I know marvels not intelligent enough to realize it but e can only pray this tired excuse of self fulfilled fantasies ends soon.

  12. hornacek

    In the screenshot Toomes is spelled "Tooms". Is it spelled like this throughout the book or is it a typo just in the panel? Whether it's the fault of the letterer or writer, someone has to remember to use Wikipedia. Arcade tokens? Did Slott write this story 20 years ago?

  13. RDMacQ

    "What makes this look like they are even trying to endear her to readers? The fact that she can solve a puzzle when she’s told the answer in advance?" Because that may not be the creator's intent. Sure, that may be a flaw in the narrative. But the comic has continually stated how "smart' and "resourceful" and "incredible" Carlie is, time and again. The story really hasn't criticized Carlie- at ALL- so while it may not be all that impressive that Carlie is "solving" a mystery that was laid out for her, most of her other "impressive" feats are along similar lines without any commentary of how she's really not all she's cracked up to be. "Fred, yes, there was a time where the push to sell Carlie was very hard. Does that mean she can never contribute anything to a story ever again without it being perceived as another push?" THAT'S kind of tricky because you have to look at the precedent set by her previous stories. There's that old saying- "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." That's kind of what it feels like here. What's being presented with Carlie here isn't all that different with how she was presented in BND and Big Time before her relationship with Peter was scuttled. She's the smartest one of the cast, she can figure things out where no one else can, and every action she takes is regarded as right and she is never criticized or regarded in a negative light. Slott seems to be making the same mistakes with Carlie that put so many off her character before- making her into a star, forcing her on the readers, when there's really no interest there. There's no refinement of her character or trying to take a different route with her. She's awesome, she's "perfect," and she's apparently the only one smart enough to figure out that something is up with Spidey (despite the fact that it had to be spelled out to her, as someone else mentioned.) In addition, her negative behavior is not commented on, which adds to her supposed "perfect" nature. She can contribute to a story. But perhaps the creators shouldn't make the same mistakes that turned so many people off her in the first place.

  14. RDMacQ

    Wow. Really shows how invested people are in this story. Over on CBR, the SSM# 2 thread had about over a dozen pages at this time in the day when it came out. Today? About two. I think that kind of shows that- while it may be an OK story- it ain't going to heat up the charts the way Marvel thinks it will. The one thing people actually really cared about came and passed, and now it's all downhill from here.

  15. CrazyChris - Post author

    Fred--We'll see. If Carlie does end up solving everything then your argument will be vindicated. But for now I don't think Slott should write a character as being completely useless just because she has a history of being written as overly perfect.

  16. Symbiotic_€vO

    Great review, I liked a lot the insight on Otto's attempt to solve the vulture problem for good, IMO that’s one of the major plus on this issue and which harbors very good possibilities on the "Superior" angle, this are things that Peter couldn't do because of the moral implications but from a grey-ish perspective as Otto's the invest is more than productive, and also it gives the feeling that Otto acknowledges his former partner for all the years they worked together. Otto knows Tooms much more than Peter ever could and can relate to him, so he offers a way out that due to the circumstances Tooms can’t take this seriously. That is just a very interesting and wonderful story that works well in many levels Of course that the toddlers gang sound very odd but I think we can give a little credit to the idea, Tooms have fought Spider-man quite often to know that when faced by such enemies Spidey is bound to lose some balance at the least. But as you said it Chris, a bunch of kids manipulated into such extreme way just for arcade coins sounds a tad much

  17. Xonathan

    @14 the way you're interpreting the story would be the best (if that's what's really happening) so we'll wait and see. The problem is Slott is inconsistent at times, but at other times he surprises me with how subtle he follows his own continuity. Like I said, you gave a great analysis

  18. stillanerd

    @#16 CrazyChris--Oh, I also think it's very apparent that Doc Ock is being influenced and affected by Peter's memories, Chris, and has been shown all along. It's just that the issue implies that one of Doc Ock's "rules" has always been for children not to be harmed due to his own childhood experiences not so much because of any influence from Peter's memories. But still, it's not a deal breaker for this issue by any means and it does add some complexity to Doc Ock's character. After all, we have seen in the past that Doc Ock does have certain standards, like when it comes to Aunt May for example.

  19. Fred

    "Does that mean she can never contribute anything to a story ever again without it being perceived as another push?" Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Carlie named after Joe Q's daughter? I understand and respect what you are saying but you got to admit, her whole character was a major push. Its hard not to see her any other way other than another forced push on the readers and this latest development does confirm that.

  20. CrazyChris - Post author

    Fred, yes, there was a time where the push to sell Carlie was very hard. Does that mean she can never contribute anything to a story ever again without it being perceived as another push?

  21. CrazyChris - Post author

    Stillanerd, the way I interpret it, Doc Ock is still changing due to the influence of Peter's memories. While it was clear that he was still basically the same person in AvSM #15.1, I think he is still becoming more Peter-like the more time goes by. Like, in SSM #2 Otto says he has inherited Peter's feelings from MJ after reliving their romantic moments together. The more he dwells in these memories, the more "good" he has become. So maybe he wouldn't have cared about the kids in AvSM 15.1, but he might have come far enough along by now that he cares. Another possible explanation is that Otto might not even realize how much he has changed. Every time he does something that he might not have before, he has his own independent justification for doing it. When he was fighting the sinister six, he was telling himself that he was doing it for the media attention. But he might really have been doing it due to Peter's influence. Here, he's telling himself that he cares about children because he was beaten as a child, but it could really be because of Peter's influence. The influence of Peter's memories seems to work in a subtle way, where it changes Ock's behavior but there's always a reason why Ock might do it himself. Its bringing out the best from Ock based on what was inside Ock already. That's how I make sense of it. An issue might come out that blows that explanation out of the water, but for now it is how I understand this story.

  22. Fred

    "So far I just don’t see anything that’s pushing hard on the idea that Carlie’s perfect in this story." Considering that's how hard the writers have tried to sell Carlie in the last few years, this sounds to me like another try.

  23. CrazyChris - Post author

    Xonathan, it could be an inconsistency in the writing, but I choose to read the story in a way that makes it make sense. I'll give my opinion on Carlie saving the day if and when that happens. So far I just don't see anything that's pushing hard on the idea that Carlie's perfect in this story. She was directly told the truth and she's seen enough that anyone in her shoes would have figured it out. This story says nothing about how clever she is; she was just at the right place at the right time.

  24. stillanerd

    Great review Chris, and I agree. This was, by far, the best issue of Superior Spider-Man to date for the reasons you gave. And I also agree that, now that Carlie Cooper knows "Peter" is really Doc Ock, she has no excuse whatsoever not to tell Mary Jane what's really going on, but, like you, I fear that some plot contrivance will come up to prevent her from doing this. Either way, she'll still look like a crappy friend. As for Doc Ock anger towards the Vulture for using children, while I agree that with you in that it makes sense in the context of how Slott presents it but that really conflicts with how Doc Ock was depicted in the past. However, I'm not sure it can be necessarily explained away by saying Doc Ock's personality being re-written. Because even though he got to experience Peter's memories at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #700, it's still pretty clear that Doc Ock is still Doc Ock and that he's retained the same personality; he's just turned over a new leaf because he saw just how pathetic his life as a criminal really was, as shown in Avenging Spider-Man #15.1. At best, you could say Otto began to see where Peter was coming from and why he did what he did at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #700, but I totally get the confusion and makes the conclusion to Amazing Spider-Man #700 suffer all the more in light of what we're seeing in Superior Spider-Man now. But I agree, this apparent discrepancy doesn't make this a bad issue.

  25. Eddie

    "You thought the Vulture was a lame villain, but that was BEFORE you knew he had an army of babies." HA! HA! HA! HA! The Otto/Peter brain sharing thing is just too convoluted to follow. It doesn't seem to be consistent at all. We shouldn't have to try to piece together how it all works (your first question) - the writer is supposed to do that. As for Carlie, I can see why she wouldn't contact the Avengers. I don't think Carlie really likes Super Heros, right? Most cops don't. But, the fact that she has not taken any steps to do anything about what she's learned about Dr. SpiderPus, is jsut about psychopathic.

  26. Xonathan

    @8 you might be unto something @9 because Carlie will come in and save the day! Logic notwithstanding though...

  27. Fred

    "What makes this look like they are even trying to endear her to readers? The fact that she can solve a puzzle when she’s told the answer in advance?" It looks like they are trying to give Peter his only ally and she will ether help this new Spiderman be a better person or help Peter out smart the Good Doc and get his body back. Their are too many egos in the kitchen to get rid of what they want for the character of Carlie and how they want her to be the dream girl for peter.

  28. Xonathan

    Chris, I liked your analysis of how Ock now can empathize with children thanks to the beam of memories in 700. However if its not explained or implied, it could very well be inconsistency on the writing. Wouldn't be the first time. I mean, why does he want to become a superior Spider-man and be a better crime fighter (even before the beam of memories in 700) but mere issues ago he wanted to fry the earth?

  29. CrazyChris - Post author

    What makes this look like they are even trying to endear her to readers? The fact that she can solve a puzzle when she's told the answer in advance?

  30. Fred

    "But this doesn’t make Carlie look good at all. She only know because she was told directly, so this isn’t showing much intelligence on her part, and her keeping the knowledge to herself makes her look psychopathic." Has anything made sense in this book for the last few years? How hard have they try to make Carlie into Peter's dream girl with out the sense of how unlikable her characterization was? Look how bad they are treating the character of MJ, who of all people should know better on who Peter is. This to me reads like another attempt to endear her to readers and once again, the creators are failing miserably, making her look much worse.

  31. Symbiotic_€vO

    Great review, I liked a lot the insight on Otto's attempt to solve the vulture problem for good, IMO that’s one of the major plus on this issue and which harbors very good possibilities on the "Superior" angle, this are things that Peter couldn't do because of the moral implications but from a grey-ish perspective as Otto's the invest is more than productive, and also it gives the feeling that Otto acknowledges his former partner for all the years they worked together. Otto knows Tooms much more than Peter ever could and can relate to him, so he offers a way out that due to the circumstances Tooms can’t take this seriously. That is just a very interesting and wonderful story that works well in many levels Of course that the toddlers gang sound very odd but I think we can give a little credit to the idea, Tooms have fought Spider-man quite often to know that when faced by such enemies Spidey is bound to lose some balance at the least. But as you said it Chris, a bunch of kids manipulated into such extreme way just for arcade coins sounds a tad much About Carlie, I couldn't care less, hopefully the revelation that MJ knows something’s off from day one and is just trying to find out what happened to Pete and a way to get him back will out shown this subplot. In definitive if we get to see this type of development from Spiderpus and the rogues gallery (at least), I'll say this might still have some pros

  32. CrazyChris - Post author

    Aziz, thanks for the editing catch. This is issue 3. Otto amplified the light's power by draining energy from the building. So this is a SUPERLY bright light. Sorry I wasn't clear on that detail. I just put the bare minimum in my plot summaries to get the story across. I know Roger Stern likes Vulture. The only Vulture stories I've really loved were Stern's and the one JMD wrote in Spectacular, where he was seeking May's forgiveness. Other than that he's just kind of pathetic, in my opinion.

  33. Aziz

    Entry Title: "Superior Spider-Man #2 Review – Chris’s Take" Second line: "THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3" Is it the review of 2 or 3?

  34. Jack Brooks

    Is he saying that Toomes can't stand light at all, or just that having a huge Klieg light blasting right into your eyes would blind anybody?

  35. Aziz

    Vulture can't stand bright light? Early in his career most of his crimes were done in broad daylight And who thinks Vulture is lame disappoints Roger Stern, Toomes is his favorite villain

  36. Jack Brooks

    Good review. Carlie Cooper is not supposed to be a dummy, so she should report what "Ock" said to her to the Avengers at least. I would like it if Slott began factoring in that Otto's brain is no longer sick from the after-effects of the radiation poisoning that first created him. It would help explain why he was persuadable by Peter's memories, and why he's able to improve. Without the radiation poisoning, he isn't wacko.

  37. CrazyChris - Post author

    But this doesn't make Carlie look good at all. She only know because she was told directly, so this isn't showing much intelligence on her part, and her keeping the knowledge to herself makes her look psychopathic.

  38. Fred

    "How much longer will Slott draw out the “Carlie knows” subplot?" Until they force the "How good she is for Peter" mentality on the reader, which will be never. So they will drag this out all year.

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