We get another look at Massacre, who continues doing serial killer things, and Otto tracks him down and ponders whether to end his life. Like Superior #4, this doesn’t get good until the end, resulting in an issue that mostly exists to weave threads for future stories while sacrificing its own.
The Superior Spider-Man #5
Words by Dan Slott
Pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks by John Dell & Giuseppe Camuncoli
Colors by Edgar Delgado & Antonio Fabella
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
These are the worst kinds of issues to review. There’s a lot to say about something you love and possibly even more to say about something you hate, but dull comics tend to make for dull conversation. There is nothing particularly wrong with Superior #5, but there’s nothing terribly right about it either.
That’s because this Massacre arc is just a pile of building blocks for meatier storylines that Slott is working up to.
Massacre is not a very interesting Spider-Man villain. His only distinguishing feature is that his brain is supposedly incapable of feeling any remorse about killing, but that just means he’s any serial killer with a spot in his brain you can point to specifically as the culprit. Spidey’s best antagonists are colorful, themed, and lively. They work because that’s what Spidey is, so they complement him by contrasting his extremes with their own. Massacre, on the other hand, could not be more devoid of personality. That’s the first hint this story is filler.
It’s difficult to take seriously, too, when it’s supposed to be about tragic, senseless killing and the issue opens by raining the phrase “Burger Town Massacre” on us. “Burger Town” is the fast food joint Slott invented for Massacre to go on a massacre in, hence “Burger Town Massacre.” Maybe I’ll never be able to take an issue seriously with anything-town in it again, but whatever the case, Slott’s really losing me here. Massacre literally walks up behind the CEO of Burger Town in her house and promises that for twelve million dollars he will murder a bunch of people while wearing the t-shirt of her competition, “Mocha Cola.” (See, Burger Town is owned by Phizzy Cola.) That’s his evil plan: murderously reverse-advertising soda.
Throughout this whole process, the cliffhanger which lended some much-needed excitement at the end of the otherwise-bland fourth issue is never touched on. Instead Slott teases more interesting developments. Otto goes to visit a tutor who apparently has been harassing him to accept her help with the physics class he’s enrolled in, but he’s only there to tell her to quit bugging him because he doesn’t need her help. It turns out she’s a “little person” who entices clients with smart cooking, and Otto seems to surprise himself by enjoying her company and her food. She takes an interest in him upon discovering he actually is as brilliant as he says he is, and the whole thing is really quite cute and amusing. It’s not actually hard to imagine Otto developing a soft spot for this quirky little woman. Her presence here, unrelated to the main plot, is clearly a setup for something meant to happen later.
Towards the end of the issue there are some other juicy bits: Otto’s gotten Uatu to loan him the facial recognition tech he’s been developing, which is now incorporated into the spider-bots patrolling the city. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Slott’s got Batman on his mind writing this book, because Uatu nearly echoes Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight by warning that “it’s too much power for one guy,” but Otto assures him that, like the Batman, he will just use it to locate and stop an insane killer. Of course, the place where this gets interesting is the end when it becomes clear that our dubious hero has no intention of relinquishing his newfound power, and we can readily infer that this will have far-reaching consequences — it’s certainly a strong candidate for involvement in the upcoming “Fired!” storyline.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it appears at the end of the issue that Otto chooses to shoot Massacre in the head. We’re kept from seeing either the final result or Peter’s reaction, so it’s entirely possible Slott’s trying to pull another one of his “just kidding” moves on us. But this is the next step in the will he/won’t he question haunting the book, so it’s at least keeping us moving.
As interesting as all these new plot threads are, what should be the meat of the book — Massacre’s evil deeds and the protagonist’s efforts at thwarting him — is dull and uninspired, resulting in an arc of mostly filler with just a few tantalizing morsels attached. My attention is still there, but if Slott doesn’t get back to the good stuff quick, I’m gonna start resenting this book for more than just the fact that it’s denying me new issues of Amazing.
Pros: The scene with Anna Marconi, the mini tutor, is cute. I’m interested in seeing the result of Otto’s gunshot and his face-recognizing spiderbots.
Cons: I was not remotely interested in Massacre or his stupid plot to extract money from fast food chain executives, and I didn’t care when he was stopped. I wanted more of Anna, more Green Goblin, more discussion of the Big Brother spiderbots.