Screwball, the villain who runs around livestreaming her heists, teams up with Jester to humiliate Mayor Jameson and Otto decides to take them down in his own particular fashion. There are some good parts, but I’m getting tired of the way Slott is dancing around the actual meat of his Superior plot just to drag the book out longer, which is really souring the whole experience for me.
The Superior Spider-Man #06
Words by Dan Slott
Pencils by Humberto Ramos
Inks by Victor Olazaba
Colors by Edgar Delgado
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Something about this whole Spider-Man situation seems off…
I may be in the minority here, but I actually kind of like Screwball, at least in concept. I think it’s a clever idea to have her running around livestreaming her crimes, though it would make a lot more sense if she was a little more of a threat, maybe with some actual powers. I think she could be used for some much more interesting stories than this one.
As the issue opens, she’s newly partnered with Jester, and the way they slap a pie in Jonah’s face and then pants him on live TV is something I can’t help but find amusing, because it’s almost always funny when the joke is at Jonah’s expense. The mayor calls Otto in and convinces him to go after Screwball, which he agrees to because “bullies like that need to be put in their place,” and sets his spider-bots to start searching the city for the parkour-using pest.
I was also glad to see some more of Anna Marconi, who was the best part of the last issue. I really liked how she shows what she’s made of by ignoring some nearby goons making light of her stature, and then brushes aside Otto’s offer to beat them senseless for her. Later, Otto disappears from a meeting she set up with his physics professor to go after Screwball, which I thought was a really well executed plot turn because he’d just been going on about how he was able to keep his appointments while Peter was not. This, and his actions later in the issue, are likely to create some friction between him and Anna, which has a lot of story potential. It was the creation of that friction that primarily interested me about the story here. If the whole issue had centered on it, I probably would have liked this a whole lot more.
We’re gonna hold Spider-Man to a different standard?
The problem for me is that Slott keeps teasing things I want to know more about and spending all his time on the same things I’ve already heard and read. At the end of this issue, Otto beats Screwball and Jester to a bloody pulp because their behavior, reminding him of being bullied as a child, drives him into a senseless rage. Aside from the fact that people–including, finally, Mary Jane–are starting to look at this and wonder if there just MIGHT be something wrong with their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, there’s nothing different here about the beatings Otto gave in issues 1 and 3 and the murder he committed in issue 5.
Speaking of that murder, perhaps the most bizarre and disappointing thing about this issue is that it pays almost zero attention to what is undoubtedly the most significant event of the Superior run so far: Spider-Man has killed in cold blood. Last issue generated a ton of controversy about whether this had really happened or Slott was going to pull one of his cheap copouts and say it didn’t. I know I can’t have been alone in expecting this followup to deal directly with the fallout of such a monumental event in the character’s history. Instead there is only one mention of it as the Avengers discuss Spidey’s aberrant behavior. This is at least better than the no show of the Green Goblin, who was teased to be returning at the end of issue 3 and then promptly vanished from the book’s pages. But it still feels like a bit of a let down that Slott would pull something so major and then barely register it next issue. Even stranger is that ghost Peter, although mercifully absent for most of the issue, leaps out at the end to gasp in horror at the bloody mess Otto’s made in his body–but he has apparently not noticed the shooting. Maybe he was busy searching Otto’s memories at the time, but why was he suddenly called up for this one and not the murder?
This is the third issue in a row of Superior that I’ve had the same basic complaint about: it’s okay, but it’s dawdling, to take a word out of Otto’s dictionary. I talked in my review of Amazing #700 about how readers, when facing a dark time of seeming defeat for the hero, need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve gotten that light, but it’s incredibly faint, and Slott’s got his foot on the brake the whole time we move towards it. One of the major defenses of Superior when it started was that this was really only going to be an extended arc and Peter would undoubtedly return. I never bought this argument, but even if we accept it, I think the arc is suffering tremendously from the same kind of decompression that made stories like Avengers vs. X-Men and Secret Invasion so infuriating.
I want this story to start moving so I feel like I’m actually progressing towards Peter’s return instead of being forced to endure a rapid-fire succession of bait-and-switch vignettes about the Superior Spider-Pus. The time is now for Superior to squeeze or get off the pot.
Pros: More Anna, Screwball’s prank on Jameson was entertaining, Peter’s ghost has finally stopped covering every page, and Mary Jane has finally said “there’s no way that’s…”
Cons: No followup to any of the promising threads that Slott has been developing, particularly the major event that concluded last issue. Tired repetition of the same theme of Otto’s excessive violence without any progression. Ramos continues to draw legs like rotten tree limbs and necks like skyscrapers.