THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #7
“Troubled Mind Part 1: Right Hand Man”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
- Elias Wirtham, AKA Cardiac, repurposes Mister Negative’s old homeless shelter into a medical clinic. The public clinic masks an underground operation in which Cardiac leads a team of doctors who offer legally-unsanctioned procedures to poor people free of charge.
- While Otto sleeps, Ghost Peter manages to move his body’s arm and tries to write a message. However, Ghost Peter cannot access his brain’s language center.
- To save a child patient, Cardiac must steal a device from the evidence warehouse known as “The Boneyard.” Otto-Spidey prevents the theft, discovering that the device Cardiac sought was the brain scanner Otto invented to communicate with his mechanical arms. Otto-Spidey goes berserk and nearly kills Cardiac, but Ghost Peter halts Otto and Cardiac escapes. Otto now occasionally hears Ghost Peter’s voice and has become suspicious.
- The Avengers call Spidey in. Citing his brutal behavior, including killing Massacre, the Avengers demand that Spidey submit to identity tests. Spidey refuses, but the Avengers prepare to force him.
On the podcast, I dubbed this my favorite Superior Spider-Man issue yet. I now retract that statement.
Before proceeding, I implore readers not to misunderstand me. Although my love for SSM #7 has diminished, I still generally like it because I enjoyed the Cardiac story. Cardiac’s a unique character, a vigilante fighting for poor sick people. Slott quickly reminds readers of Cardiac’s M.O., of what motivates him, and of what makes us sympathize with his goals. Ramos makes him look imposing, with a fantastic modern redesign that inventively incorporates Cardiac’s EKG visual theme. In fact, this issue stands among Ramos’s best performances. I never struggled to understand the storytelling, I never gagged at an ugly-looking character, and I thought the fight between Cardiac and Spider-Man delivered the most exciting thowdown of this title’s brief history.
So why has my opinion of SSM #7 lowered since recording the podcast? Well, one reason I cannot unsee Josh’s point that practically every SSM issue ends on the same beat, with Otto snapping and beating up a villain because something reminded him of his life as Doctor Octopus. This is the fifth issue with a similar ending, and Marvel has only published eight issues.
Also, after reading the issue following this one, I find myself less enamored with details I originally viewed as clever clues regarding the nature of Ghost Peter. As detailed copiously in my podcast review of issue #7, I thought the fact that the art and text did not agree with each other as to what hand Ghost Peter controlled while Otto slept was a ingenious hint toward an elaborate theory involving brain hemispheres and what side of his body Peter can control. It isn’t worth it to reiterate the theory here because #8’s scene showing Ghost Peter drawing a picture with his body’s right hand is inconsistent with that theory. I am forced to confront the possibility that Humberto Ramos mistakenly drew Peter using his left hand despite the text repeatedly referring to the right hand and the issue’s title being “Right Hand Man.” This could still be a clever clue to something, maybe, but I now suspect that this storyline won’t end up being as brilliant as I had guessed.
But what really drags this issue down is my knowing where the Avengers subplot leads next issue (it leads nowhere). This title egregiously relegates its most compelling facet—the ramifications of Spider-Man’s murdering Massacre—to the back burner. SSM #7 promises progress on that front, that the Avengers have discovered him and that the plot-mandated stupidity infecting every character who interacts with Spider-Man has finally eroded. God, what a joke that turns out to be. The specifics are a topic for my forthcoming #8 review, but suffice to say that all the Avengers scenes in #7 waste readers’ time because they do not pay off how they logically should.
It is a travesty how little attention this comic gives to such a shattering development as Spider-Man publicly executing someone. What does Mary Jane think about this? What do Peter’s colleagues at Horizon Labs think about Peter making weapons for a killer? Has this affected the public’s perception of Spider-Man? How are criminals and super villains reacting to the new killer Spider-Man? What does Aunt May think about her nephew’s association with a killer? Will any of these people confront Peter about it? So much about this, one of the most important events in Spider-Man’s history, awaits exploration. And yet, Slott treats it like the B-story. The fallout from Massacre’s death is the A-story, gosh darn it, not Cardiac.
But with all the other good points I once attributed to this issue discredited by the following issue, the Cardiac story is all SSM #7 has going for it. It’s a decent enough little tale but nothing worth raving about.
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