I have not read Age of Ultron. I have no idea what it is about, except that it probably involves the villain Ultron. From that perspective, I come to the alphanumerically-branded Superior Spider-Man #6AU. Is it AU-some or AU-ful for the uninitiated? Can it drAU us into Marvel’s latest event? Find out by reading the full review. Please leave a cAUment!
THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #6AU
WRITER: Christos Gage
ARTIST: Dexter Soy
COVER: Marco Checchetto
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Caramagna
- Peterpus wakes up one morning to find that Ultron has destroyed New York and has apparently erected some kind of cyber city within Manhattan (or over it?). Iron Man plans to contain Ultron by transporting the city to the Negative Zone, which will unfortunately kill the survivors in New York. The strategy requires technology from Horizon Labs that only Peterpus can acquire.
- Once in Horizon, Peterpus passes by Max Modell’s dead skeleton. Peterpus stops in his lab to modify the spider-bots so that they can take control of Ultron’s robots. Peterpus seeks to use Ultron’s technology to rebuild the world under Peterpus’s benign dictation. When Ultron’s drones attack, the spider-bots latch on and make the drones grow Doc Ock tentacles. Peterpus guides a drone to Ultron’s central intelligence, but the central intelligence seems to be a decoy (or something like that—I got confused around here). Ultron regains control of his drones.
- Peterpus tries implementing Iron Man’s plan, but a drone destroys the device he needs. Peterpus returns to Iron Man to report his failure. Iron Man comforts Peterpus, and our hero muses about the value of friendship and teamwork.
Can someone reading Superior Spider-Man, but not Age of Ultron, understand and enjoy Superior Spider-Man #6AU? No, I don’t think so. At least I couldn’t, despite my enjoying Christos Gage’s previous Spider-Man work. The comic drops the reader into the scenario with no explanation of what happened or how. The recap page clarifies nothing other than that the “day has come” when Ultron “would find a way to destroy us.” Max Modell is shown dead, and I don’t think Marvel would kill him off-panel in an event tie-in by a guest writer, so is this whole thing occurring in an alternate reality like the other “Age of __” crossover, the one involving Apocalypse? The comic never says so, but I can’t shake the certainty that I’m reading some weird dream that the characters —at least the ones in Spidey’s corner of the world—will wake up from and never mention again.
Iron Man’s guest appearance sat unwell with me, too. First, the comic did not convince me that Iron Man would willingly sacrifice the population of New York to contain Ultron. I can believe that he would do that under exceptional circumstances—he’s shown an “ends justify the means” attitude before—but what distinguishes this from any other time Marvel’s New York has become overrun with robots, or aliens, or monsters? Maybe the main miniseries explains why, this time, Ultron poses such a threat to the entire world that a chance at stopping him justifies mass human casualties, but all this issue shows is that Ultron has wrecked Manhattan and has his goons patrolling the rubble. Second, Iron Man says to Peter “Sue Richards tells me you’re a scientist too,” as if Stark didn’t know that fact about Peter himself. Don’t they know each other better than as friends of a friend? I suppose that with Tony erasing his brain in Fraction’s run and Peter using magic to conceal his identity, who knows what memories everyone has right now. This part might not be Gage’s fault, but it always bothers me to see the important relationships in Peter Parker’s life reverted to square one.
This is not to say I liked nothing about #6AU. I loved the art, for one. Dexter Soy evidently created every aspect of the art himself, and it looks stunning zoomed in on my computer screen. I particularly like the coloring, which conveys a painted feel and makes the environment look mysterious and too massive to wrap your mind around.
I mostly liked Gage’s characterization of Peterpus himself. I understand that Brian Bendis initially wrote Age of Ultron long before the Peter/Otto body swap, so you’d never know there was a change by reading that series. So this is probably the only chance readers will have to see Otto’s internal reactions to these events. Gage uses the opportunity to exquisitely capture Otto’s ego and current delusions of heroism. Otto thinking to himself about using Ultron’s resources to make the world a paradise—with Otto in charge—is a great example of how Otto’s innate megalomania distorts the good intentions Peter tried to imbue into him. Still, I found the closing lines somewhat strange. Otto has an epiphany about how as Doctor Octopus he undervalued his allies, but now he knows that with great people by his side he can conquer adversity. That seems like a big step for Otto, and I wish it was provoked by a stronger event than Tony patting him on the back after a failed mission.
Speaking of the mission’s failure, one gets the sense that the heroes accomplished very little in Superior Spider-Man #6AU. Thus, I doubt this issue substantially progresses the main Age of Ultron narrative. If I deduced that correctly, then this story is dispensable to Age of Ultron readers as well as Superior Spider-Man readers. If I am wrong, and Superior Spider-Man #6AU constitutes an important piece of the Ultron puzzle, then please let me know in the comments section. #6AU failed to induce my curiosity to find out for myself.
I’m switching to letter grades instead of a numbered score out of 5. I want people to be able to compare my written grade to the grade I give on the podcast to see whether my opinion of the issue improved or diminished in the weeks between the issue’s release and recording day. That comparison becomes easier when both reviews use the same scale.
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