Superior Spider-Man #3 Review — Erik’s Take

supsm2013003_dc21_lr_0001The Vulture returns in an issue that puts some interesting emphasis on Octavius’s history of having worked with Toomes before. While the book still seems to be finding its footing, this is a marked improvement over last issue and helps to move the story forward at a respectable pace by cementing Carlie’s suspicions that Peter is not himself and upping the tension around Otto’s proclivity for violence. 

The Superior Spider-Man #3: Everything You Know is Wrong

Words by Dan Slott

Art by Ryan Stegman

Colors by Edgar Delgado

Letters by Chris Eliopoulos

What are you doing, Peter?

Slott’s humor is very hit or miss. Sometimes you end up with a bomb like crazy-town banana-pants that makes you wonder how it ever got past an editor. But other times he really manages to split my sides open, and I have to admit the opening of this issue is one of those gems. It’s almost the perfect gag — mayor Jameson, now believing Spider-Man works for him, setting up his own “spider signal” on top of the NYPD only to have Otto unceremoniously destroy it and then somehow get away with blatantly chastising him for its construction. 

While many of us are still skeptical of the long term value of the whole Superior enterprise, it does undeniably offer opportunities to explore “what ifs” for a little while, and this version of Spidey with no patience for anyone or anything outside his own plans really does bounce off of Jonah quite well.

1What say we go higher, bug?

Another thing I liked about this issue is something that carries over from Slott’s last Vulture story, and that’s the revamp that Toomes has gotten. Between his new all-black getup and his new gravity powers that allow him to double his flight mechanism as a massive strength enhancer, he feels like a much more worthy opponent for someone at Spidey’s tier.

When Otto tracks the vulture’s new mini-me goons back to the nest, Slott takes the confrontation in an interesting direction that has its ups and downs (no pun intended). The scene is interspersed with Peter’s explorations of some of Otto’s own memories, a reversal of roles that puts the reader 100% back in Peter’s point of view for a while and is quite welcome. These flashbacks are executed quite well, allowing us to discover as Peter does that Otto still holds some respect for his old accomplice. When he drops in on Toomes, he immediately offers to simply pay him a retirement fortune to quit, coming out of hidden bank accounts he apparently possesses around the globe. But the Vulture doesn’t buy it and orders his new minions to attack.

I was right on board with Slott for most of this scene, but I didn’t really care for the way it developed. Otto discovers that the Vulture’s new goons are actually little kids, presumably orphans he’s collected, and he starts to well up with rage at this exploitation of the innocent. This is another area where Slott hasn’t done an adequate job of convincing me. Otto is just way too hot and cold in the morality department, and further complicating matters is that Slott suggests this rage comes from Otto’s own memories, via a new flashback to an abusive father that’s supposed to link to the kid he just unknowingly backhanded himself. If I was meant to believe Otto went into a frenzy over child abuse purely because he’s a changed man, my only complaint would be that his changes are being cherry picked to suit the story. But I’m now supposed to believe this man has a tender soft spot for little children when a few story arcs ago he literally set out to burn alive every child on the planet. Sloppy on top of unnecessary.

2Fortunately, once that tripe is out of the way, we’re treated to a nice fight  between Spidey and the Vulture that showcases the villain’s new power as well as the new Spidey’s relentless use of force. The sequence does feature a “ran out of webbing” moment I turned my nose up at, but as long as that only happens once until the end of Superior, I won’t make a big deal out of it, especially since the whole thing is once again so beautifully rendered by Stegman. I’ll be really disappointed when he switches out for Ramos again.

Otto, what’d you do?

The other major element at work in this issue, and probably the one that will have the most significant consequences, is Carlie’s development of her suspicion into full-on investigation. I’m not completely ready to get behind this yet, because it’s still frustrating that no one else is pushing the issue and it absolutely should be Mary Jane who’s on the trail here. But I will say that, ever since she and Peter split, I’ve felt that Slott has made good use of Carlie when she does show up, and this is no exception. She’s a detective, so this is a natural role for her to fall into, and it’s a huge relief at the end of the issue when she fails to be swayed by Otto’s attempts at coming up with an excuse for how savagely he’s beaten on the Vulture.

I mean, if I had to pick one character of the entire Amazing cast to not be a total and complete moron in this book, there are several I’d choose before Carlie. But it’s a relief that someone isn’t, even so.

Pros: A great opening with the “spider signal” joke. Ock’s meeting with Toomes is intriguing, at least initially. The fight sequence is enjoyable and Vulture’s redesign is great. No banana pants!

Cons: The lame attempt at making Otto suddenly have a soft spot for children out of nowhere. Drat, I ran out of web fluid!

Grade: B+

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(18) Comments

  1. Robert Dye

    @16 - Well, that would make sense ifthe Ock we get is somehow based in a previous recording, would it not?Not my favorite direction for the story, but at least it would be internally consistent.Rob

  2. RDMacQ

    @#13 jack brook- I don't think it's Marvel that's "No Real Progress" these days. Just Dan Slott and his specific philosophy for Spider-Man and what he "should" be. Ock will learn nothing. Hell, expect Ock to go RIGHT back to his old evil sense, with no memory of his experience in Spidey's body or of his secret ID.

  3. jack brooks

    I think that an "out" for Slott, regarding why Ock would suddenly develop some empathy for kids contrasted to EotE, is that he isn't neurologically damaged now that he's in Peter's body. He's still cunning, egotistical, and cold, but not being radiation-poisoned, and not having cybernetics wi-fi'd directly into your brain, has to be a good thing.

  4. Gary

    @Jack Brooks: Let's be glad that Slott doesn't not like to do Spider-Man dating a super heroine like Ms. Marvel or Spider-Woman because the storyline would be horrible to read. As far as the new Spider-Man is concerned, it would be nice if Dr. Ock had stayed out of Peter's world and just create a new one while Peter Parker's soul went into the hands of Mephisto in Hell.

  5. jack brooks

    If Slott actually does something meaningful with Ock, I would hate it if he nullifies all of it at the end, and Ock turns back into the same old ranting maniac. But I fear this is what will happen, since Marvel is the "No Real Progress" Team these days.

  6. Sbee613

    The longer Carlie keeps this theory to herself the less believable this situation will become. If I thought a superheroes body was under control by an arch villian (especially one who almost fried the planet mere months ago) there's no way even if I was wrong not to document my suspicion or tell anyone. Hell aunt may would be the perfect person since she knows Otto and Peter after an hour or so with him I'm sure she could tell a difference in attitude and how he carries himself.

  7. Erik Lexie - Post author

    My prediction is that Slott is simply going to drag her investigation out forever. The reasoning will become that she can't tell anyone until she can prove it. This will defy all logic but it will give the story an excuse to let her do her detective thing for as long as Slott wants/needs her to.We'll just have to grin and bear it. It's exactly the same logic that prevents anyone from suggesting Pete's an impostor due to his abnormal behavior. The story demands it.

  8. RDMacQ

    @ #5 stillanerd- yeah, I really don't see THAT happening anytime soon. It would be kind of an @$$pull by the creators to do that, since nothing about Carlie has established her as being someone who'd fall for Spidey/ Ock. Really, I think this is going to play out very plainly- Carlie "figures it out," but either changes her mind or is silenced in another way.

  9. Symbiotic_€vO

    Great review, and i like that this time the hystory give us more to talk about insted of just fruit pants and happy alone time, I've enjoyed the villans encounter and that Otto tried to put a dignifying end to the Vulture's crime career, th Carlie part as mentioned dont feel to well, she have no reason to remain silent other than maybe even if she knows, she still cant handle well this knowledge, maybe she is in shock, denial or something. I hope the saga continues the good note insted of, again, falling to unbeareble deepths before we get back to another good issue

  10. CrazyChris

    Maybe its not as mechanical as I was describing it. Sometimes just diving into Peter's memories are enough to change him, sometimes the results are inconsistent but the most pronounced where Otto has his own reasons to feel a certain way. People aren't computers, so I don't mind seeing a human mind being affected by foreign memories in a somewhat uneven way. It makes sense to me, at least.

  11. Erik Lexie - Post author

    I think it's probably about the best that can be done to make sense of things, but it still doesn't work for me. In 700 Otto was supposed to have adopted Peter's motivations by adopting his experiences. If Peter is slowly influencing him now, why did we have that scene at all? It renders it completely meaningless. What about his change of heart regarding MJ? That seemed to be purely from recalling Peter's memories of her, not any preexisting reason of Otto's. But it was a delayed reaction, too, which is completely different from how things worked in this issue.In other words I just think his whole process of deciding something is bad is all over the place and seems to have no solid reasoning behind it. Maybe he is just going crazy from having two minds in one head.

  12. CrazyChris

    Erik, what do you think of my interpretation which is that Peter's influence is changing Ock only (or at least only at first) where he has a preexisting reason to change? In other words, it's not cherry picking that he's changing in regard to his feelings about children, it's a logical place for Peter's memories to have the strongest affect on him because he was abused as a child.Stillanerd, my God, that would be terrible. I really hope it doesn't go down like that. I see this going one of three ways. Either Carlie will become convinced that she's wrong and think Peter is really Peter, or she will tell people and they won't believe her, or she will die. I am hoping for option three, but expecting option one, or option two if this story really wants to be bad.

  13. stillanerd

    @#3 webhead37--Not only do I think Carlie figures it out (which this issue suggest she may already have) but that, much to her shock and against her better judgement, she falls in love with SpOck despite knowing full well it's really Doc Ock and not Peter. Basically, she winds up becoming his "Mary Jane."

  14. JT

    I for one liked the part about Otto being shocked at the fact that Toomes is using children as it reminded him of his own abused childhood. Also, there are a lot of factors as to why he is behaving in a more decent manner than End of the Earth- he is no longer as desperate and low as he was when dying slowly and painfully in his broken body. Also, it is far easier to threaten to destroy the world by pushing a button and not really think of the consequences than to actually harm someone personally, face to face, with your bare hands.It was a good issue, but I agree that MJ should be in on Carlie's suspicions as well. Now that SpOck has broken off his relationship with MJ, I don't see why Carlie cannot just confide in Mary Jane. She no longer runs the risk of coming across as a bitter ex by doing so, like she did when MJ revealed to her in SSM #2 that she was getting back with Peter.

  15. webhead37

    I'm sorry but I still kinda label Carlie as a bit of a moron. Even after Peter proves he's not doc ock in issue 700 she still shoots him. And now all of a sudden she's going "Hey wait a minute!" BUT I am glad there's someone whose seeing through Otto's bull. What my fear is Marvel is probably gonna have Superior last long and to do this, Carlie will figure it out and die some way. OR even worse and have some horrible scene where she goes to Otto and says "You go make Peter Proud" Ugh

  16. hornacek

    Saying that Carlie has "figured it out" is giving her credit where in this case it isn't due. She didn't investigate clues and discover something that was unknown to her - she was told outright in ASM700 that Ock was in Spidey's body. If you tell someone that X = Y and days later they come back to you and tell you X = Y, well they're not Sherlock Holmes.

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