THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #4
“The Aggressive Approach”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Giuseppe Camuncoli
INKER: John Dell
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
- Otto spider-mans so much better than Peter that he makes time to attend Aunt May’s therapy session. Otto intends to test a cybernetic walking aid on May, horrifying his Horizon colleagues.
- Otto realizes Peter Parker cannot make people call him “doctor,” so he reenrolls at Empire State University.
- Massacre escapes from Ravencroft, killing eight people including Ashley Kafka, and using Kafka’s severed eye to bypass the retinal scanners. Spiderpus tells J. Jonah Jameson that Spider-Man was an idiot to save Massacre’s life and swears to “end” Massacre.
- The Vulture Babies encounter the Green Goblin, who tells them to spread the word that he will crush Spider-Man once and for all.
I enjoyed practically all of this issue, but one bad thing overpowers the whole recipe: Ashley Kafka’s death stank. Now, last time a character seemed to die (Peter), he returned one issue later, so take that for what it’s worth, but Slott clearly means for us to believe Dr. Kafka has stuffed her last padded cell.
Continuity guru Josh Bertone tells me Kafka’s current employment at Ravencroft is a continuity glitch, so there’s that, too.
But, as I said, I enjoyed much of Superior Spider-Man #4. First, despite myself I consider Massacre an interesting villain. Most members of the crazed mass killer villain trope are depicted as manic and deranged, but Massacre’s deal is that he is logical but utterly lacking in empathy. That’s actually a more accurate depiction of the real syndrome of psychopathy than what, say, Carnage or the Joker represents. Although one expects an emotionless character to be boring because that gimmick allows for limited range and dynamism, Slott and Camuncoli (whose art has never looked better) make excellent use of the tension this pitiless, unpredictable, yet eerily rational and honest, slayer brings to any situation. Mind you, the creators could have accomplished all of that without killing off Ashley Kafka.
Which brings me to my third and last “like” of the issue. I love Otto’s attempting to finish Peter’s graduate degree. A college campus makes for an unexpected atmosphere for Peterpus, cleverly returning the series to a college setting without regressing any character development. It never occurred to me that Doctor Octopus isn’t a doctor whilst he inhabits Peter’s body, and Otto’s own reaction to hearing the bad news from Max Modell produces the funniest moment in Superior Spider-Man so far.
Slott even inserts a whiff of some new supporting characters, which might be a good idea because that gives Otto characters he can interact with without raising the suspicion which should come naturally to Peter’s friends and family. I have nothing to say about the Green Goblin’s appearance. Let’s see where Slott takes that subplot.
2 dead psychiatrists out of 5. If Massacre killed a nameless extra instead of Ashley Kafka, then I’d have enjoyed this much more.
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