Superior Spider-Man #6 Review – Chris’s Take

ssm6covLast issue’s harrowing events left one question on every spider-fan’s mind: What’s Screwball been up to lately? Dan Slott answers that in Superior Spider-Man #6. There’s also some off-hand line about whether or not Spider-Man committed cold-blooded murder against a helpless, unarmed criminal in public, but that’s not what we care about. Bring on Screwball, Jester, and Humberto Ramos! Read the full review to learn my opinion on this issue, and leave a comment!

 “Joking Hazard”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
”RUNNING JOKE” (sic): Chris Eliopoulos



  • As J. Jonah Jameson orates on cracking down on super-crime and closing down the “revolving door” Raft prison, Screwball and the Jester punk (for lack of a better term) Jonah by shoving pie in his face and pulling down his trousers. Jester alerts his “Titter” followers by “live jexting.” Their wicked scheme involves driving up traffic on their website, which contains an identity theft program.
  • Jonah calls in his favorite ultra-violent psycho-vigilante, the Superior Spider-Man, to deal with these miscreants. Otto-Spidey agrees, remembering all of the times Peter embarrassed him and all of the bullying he received as a child.
  • While the Spider-Bots track Screwball and Jester, Peterpus drinks coffee with Anna Maria Marconi (is her first name Anna or Anna Maria?) and Professor “Schnoz” Lamaze. When the villains are found, Peterpus rudely exits. He makes time to wreck a car belonging to some jocks who teased Ms. Marconi, and he stuffs the dudes in the trunk while he’s at it. When Marconi discovers the wreckage, she wonders who would do such a thing.
  • Meanwhile, the Avengers discuss Spider-Man’s behavioral shift. Spidey’s been brutalizing enemies, he acts erratic, he committed murder . . . ahem . . . he acts arrogant, yada, yada, yada. You know, nothing too serious, but enough that the Avengers should keep an eye on him.
  • Spider-Man’s fight with Screwball and Jester goes embarrassingly for Otto, until Otto loses it and dishes out severe beatings and lacerations. Everyone sees this live on Screwball’s webcam, and the Avengers decide to bring Spidey in.
Ashton Kutcher: The Super Villain

Ashton Kutcher: The Super Villain

Although I wanted a better follow-up on Otto’s slaying of Massacre, I enjoyed the main story involving Screwball and Jester surprisingly well. Slott gave a great reason why Otto would bother with these seemingly low-threat villains; he knows what public humiliation feels like. In fact, Otto developed his “I’ll show you all!” attitude precisely because people constantly abased him throughout his childhood and adulthood. Even Peter’s old tactic of webbing up Otto’s glasses dredged up those memories and feelings, so when Otto faces villains whose whole modus operandi is inflicting degradation, one can understand why he snapped. Slott used these minor villains effectively, as a platform to explore the protagonist’s deep-seated emotions.

I continue to enjoy Otto’s friendship with Anna Maria Marconi. They have the most genuine chemistry of any relationship Slott has written in this series. I think Otto respects her intelligence and her ability to healthily cope with social persecution similar to what drove Otto to villainy. I also enjoy seeing Otto deal with Peter’s problem of needing to shirk personal obligations to fight crime, and I am intrigued by the hint that Marconi may not like Otto’s true colors once she sees them.

Humberto Ramos’s art helps, for the most part. I normally dislike his preposterously exaggerated style, but I must admit it probably suits this story’s slapstick action and smirking, mocking villains perfectly. On the other hand, a key sequence where Jester pushes Otto too far by smashing his mask’s eyepieces—implicitly recrudescing the emotions associated with bullies smashing Otto’s glasses as a child—gets blunted by Ramos’s unclear art. Nevertheless, once I understood what I was seeing and why it mattered, I appreciated Slott’s great writing in the scene.

As Spider-Man's crotch catches on fire, Jester smashes the invisible lemon.

As Spider-Man’s crotch catches on fire, Jester smashes the invisible lemon.

But here comes the part of the review where I discuss writing that isn’t great. After issue #5’s purposefully vague ending and the continued dancing around the matter at the start of this issue, I expected some sort of dramatic reveal of what exactly happened to Massacre. But nope, Captain America just casually mentions that Spidey killed someone as one of the reasons “this whole ‘Spider-Man situation’ seems off.” Seems off? That’s so tone deaf. Spider-Man shot a weeping, broken, unarmed man in the head with a high-caliber rifle in the middle of a crowded public subway station. Yeah, that seems pretty God damn “off” to me!

Why does Slott deemphasize the fact that Otto freaking murdered a guy last issue? Spider-Man blasting Massacre’s brains out would have made the nightly news, right? Massacre’s corporate-sponsored killing spree was designed for public visibility. The whole purpose was that the soda-buying public would see him wearing the logo of his benefactor’s business competitor. People would have been watching because that was the whole point. So why isn’t anyone but the Avengers talking about it? People seem more shocked that Spider-Man non-lethally beat Screwball and Jester. I somewhat understand that because Massacre was universally hated while Screwball and Jester are popular internet celebrities, and using excessive force against the latter two characters seems harder to morally rationalize, but I still want to see some broader reaction to the killing. On the bright side, Mary Jane finally seems to notice that Spider-Man isn’t himself. I just don’t understand why shooting someone in the head wasn’t the thing to clue her in.

Also, Slott’s take on Jonah is psychotic. There’s no other way to put it. Jonah encouraged Spider-Man to extrajudicially execute a New York citizen. After Spider-Man did so—in cold blood—Jonah congratulated him for it. Then Jonah practically salivates watching Spider-Man use bladed weapons to slash the flesh of a young man and woman whose worst crimes are childish pranks and attempted credit card fraud. Yes, Screwball and Jester embarrassed Jonah. But does that mean Jonah wants to see their blood ripped out of them? Stan Lee wrote Jonah as greedy, dishonest, and an occasional funder of super villains and killer robots, but I don’t ever remember him displaying a bloodthirst this sadistic.

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 11.23.43 AM

Jonah's interests include journalism, business, and watching mother@#$%ers get cut!

Jonah’s interests include journalism, business, and watching mother@#$%ers get cut!

When an issue presents such a mix of good and bad, a reviewer must decide which points are the most important. The great characterization of Otto earns the highest emphasis because that is this series’s primary draw. The bad characterization of Jonah is important but secondary because he is a secondary character. The brushing aside of Spider-Man’s committing murder can be rectified if future episodes focus on that subject intently, so that gets less weight, too. Thus, I give this issue a qualified recommendation.

3 live jexts out of 5.


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(20) Comments

  1. Jason

    "People seem more shocked that Spider-Man non-lethally beat Screwball and Jester."Are we sure about that? They could die from the beating. Looked pretty bad.Still not sure who Jester is. Have I forgotten him from a previous issue?

  2. Jack Brooks

    See, I think she's got some potential as a B-level baddie. Spidey doesn't have any speedster villains (I don't think), and when you cross that with the idea of a narcissistic hacker, and a female Shawn Spencer personality, I think that's interesting.

  3. CrazyChris - Post author

    I think the most they've ever said directly about Screwball is that she's a master of parkour. I don't think it's been said whether or not she's super human or not. In her first appearance, she seemed fast enough to outrun Spider-Man while he's web slinging at least for a little while, so that suggests either she has super speed or benefits from extremely inconsistent writing. At the start of this issue it looks like she's running past JJJ's guards in a blur, so again I think she probably has super speed.

  4. CrazyChris - Post author

    14 - After you've tried to destroy the world, you have nowhere to go but up!15 - Fifty issues equals two years of real time. I think that seems about right for this.

  5. CrazyChris - Post author

    11 - It'll happen eventually.12 - Given how annoying Ghost Peter is, I only want Peter to come back when Slott's run is over. I want fifty issues of Otto, then bring Peter back and replace Slott with some who can write a Peter I don't want to throttle.

  6. Mike 13

    I can't wait for Peter to come back... but at the same time, I'm really enjoying the SpOck bus... :)

  7. CrazyChris

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! Keep em coming! They mean a lot to me.6 - Yeah, Slott's current strategy with subplots that would naturally lead to ending this status quo is to avoid them. Carlie figured Ock out in issue #2 and apparently she's been doing nothing about it.7 - I'd say it's a fun storyline with occasionally poor execution.8 - Thank you!9 - I think Kafka's death was sensationalistic and unjustified by the story, but other than that I think all the violence has a good basis in the story (an unstable ex-villain tries to be a hero but goes too far) and Slott has mostly exercised discretion to avoid sensationalism (they didn't show Massacre's death; and Screwball and Jester were out of the frame while Spidey beat them).

  8. herbiepopnecker

    Slott seems to be trying to be gritty and sensational without first having laid down a plot line that gives a basis TO be gritty and sensational..."hey, look what I did! Wow!".A lot of us are not looking, Wow!

  9. Sbee613

    The next logical step to this story would be the avengers reading and scanning this fake spider-mans mind but since slott is reveling in this facade I'm sure that will happen in about oh.....another 15 months. Also with Mary Jane FiNALLY getting a damn clue she won't approach "Peter" for another 10 issues or more I'm sure.

  10. CrazyChris

    Don, I considered going .5 lower, actually, but now that more of the day has gone by I'm glad I gave it what I did. Although the Avengers scenes and the JJJ scenes sucked, I seriously LOVED the Doc Ock writing in this issue.Stillanerd, it is good that they addressed Massacre's death. If they hadn't then you'd have seen an angrier version of me today. And I did think about the Wolverine thing, too. Spidey being too rough with a giant monster makes Wolverine suspicious but Spidey shooting a guy in the head makes him be all "wait and see"? That makes no sense. I was going to mention it in my review but I cut it because it just wasn't something that impacted my enjoyment to a degree comparable with the other points I wrote about.

  11. stillanerd

    Great review as always, Chris. I appreciated the fact that Massacre's death was at least addressed and that this issue, contrary to what I initially assumed from the preview, was a natural progression of SpOck's story, but you and Don are right. Logically, there should've been a much stronger reaction towards "Spider-Man" executing a bad guy in cold blood in this issue. For example, why wouldn't Norah Winters bring that up during the press conference? Or, as said about Mary Jane, she should've figured out something was wrong right then and there, even though in this issue she FINALLY does start to realize there's no way this can is Peter. Also, I find it funny that Wolverine is taking the "wait-and-see" approach to all of this when, back in Avenging Spider-Man #16, he was so suspicious of the way "Spider-Man" was acting that he wanted Rachel Summer to scan SpOck's mind. Wouldn't SpOck killing Massacre only confirm his suspicions? Even so, I did think the tonal shift from what presented itself as typical light-hearted "Spidey vs. joke-villain" fare turns into something far more darker was actually quite effective.

  12. Donovan Grant

    The aftermath of the Massacre episode really burned me. Were I not dead (reviewing USM :P) and you weren't taking over my body (ASM review job :P) I might've given it .5 less of a point, but the Jester and Screwball stuff were good for what they were.Good to see that I wasn't crazy in demanding more reaction from the Massacre killing. I really think Mary Jane should've had a scene-stopping "HOLD THE PHONE WTF" reaction to Peter killing someone with a gun in front of dozens of witnesses and hundreds of viewers.

  13. CrazyChris - Post author

    That's a valid interpretation, but I'd want Marla to be mentioned more in that case. This issue makes it look like Jonah wants to see Jester and Screwball hurt for no reason other than they embarrassed him.

  14. cubman987

    The way I'm reading Slott's handeling of Jameson is that he is still dealing with Marla's murder, he's been pretty vengefull ever since then. He's tried to get Smythe the death penalty, tried to kill Smythe himself during Spider-Island, and he ordered the police to kill Massacre.

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