Superior Spider-Man #7 – Chris’s Take


ssm7covA somewhat late review, but one benefiting from hindsight. Does the high praise I expressed on the podcast hold up now that I’ve read part two? You need to read the review to find out!

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

 

PLOT POINTS:

  • 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.

OPINIONS!

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.

Those heart monitor shoulder pads kick ass.

Those heart monitor shoulder pads kick ass.

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.

Peter Parker: Too stupid to know what hand he's using.

Peter Parker: Too stupid to know what hand he’s using.

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.

C+

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(20) Comments

  1. Mike 13

    @15 - the last time a Spider-Man book sold less than 57 400 k was ASM #681... it's been a while since the mid 50k range...

  2. Fred

    "Everything continues to drop" Not talking about everything, I'm talking about Spider-man, a book which Marvel loves to hype yet manages to not keep the readers after the hype dies down. "For almost every book, they basically continue to drop unless Marvel throw in a bit of promotion or a variant cover." And Spider-man is the main offender for its variant covers. "That’s not just Superior Spider-Man, that’s the entire current comics marketplace." It does not change the fact that the sales are dropping for the book. "And by current marketplace standards, Superior is actually doing alright." Alright is not what Marvel was looking for, especially with all the hype and media attention they put into the book. Not to mention that sales have dropped already in a three month period. Which proves that the hype is already fading fast. "Since issue #3, they’ve only dropped a few percent." SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3 101,811 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #6 86,614 The book lost over 15,197 sales over a month's time. Unless they have something to stop the bleeding of readers (Like the hype they are putting into issue 9) judging by the last three months, sales will continue to go down. "Most books would give all their arms and legs for those sales." You're right but most books are not as hyped and heavily promoted like Spiderman is and even with that, the book is already losing readers.

  3. Nick MB

    @17 Everything continues to drop, though. If you look at the Marvel ongoing sales comparisons here: http://comicsbeat.com/marvel-month-to-month-sales-march-2013/ For almost every book, they basically continue to drop unless Marvel throw in a bit of promotion or a variant cover. That's not just Superior Spider-Man, that's the entire current comics marketplace. And by current marketplace standards, Superior is actually doing alright. Since issue #3, they've only dropped a few percent. Most books would give all their arms and legs for those sales.

  4. Fred

    "Sales were never going stay at the levels of #1" No one said that it were going to be but if you are going to hold sales as a sigh of success and Marvel knowing what they are doing, know that they are already dropping. "#6 managed to hit 86K (according to the icv2 estimates) without a variant cover" And yet that's still less than issue five. And watch, the variant covers will return to boost those sales up, Marvel has no choice. The hype is already fading. "And it’s still outselling basically the entire Marvel line." For now. If the sales continue to drop, not for very long. "These sales numbers depress me." Why let it depress you? The hype is already fading and sales are going down. Outside of the hype for issue 9, which Marvel is hyping like crazy. The book will continue to drop.

  5. hornacek

    These sales numbers depress me. I hate to wish ill on a book because I'm sure everyone is trying their best and if it fails then potentially people could lose their jobs, but I really want this book to fail and for Marvel to admit "we screwed up and made a huge mistake of Chapter One proportions".. They've made Spidey a supporting character in his own book.

  6. Nick MB

    "Sales are already dropping, so the hype is already fading. Marvel already knows this, that’s way they are hyping issue nine like crazy. its only a matter of time where the book falls again to mid 50’000." Sales were never going stay at the levels of #1, attrition is inevitable. #6 managed to hit 86K (according to the icv2 estimates) without a variant cover, that's pretty decent going. And it's still outselling basically the entire Marvel line.

  7. CrazyChris - Post author

    Mike, that's MY theory, and Stillanerd heard it from ME. But after the pictionary scene from #8 it no longer seems likely to be true. It's hilarious that I'm being corrected with my own argument.

  8. Fred

    "Well, sales for Superior seem pretty good, so maybe Marvel do know what they’re doing re: getting readers in?" Sales are already dropping, so the hype is already fading. Marvel already knows this, that's way they are hyping issue nine like crazy. its only a matter of time where the book falls again to mid 50'000. "I really can’t understand the Marvel higher-ups thinking this was a good idea. Consider my mind boggled." They are the same people who green lighted "One More Day" You should not be surprised. Its only going to get worse as this storyline goes on.

  9. Nick MB

    @9 Well, sales for Superior seem pretty good, so maybe Marvel do know what they're doing re: getting readers in? The concept that it's a villain controlling his body might be making people say "ooh, interesting, I'll check that out", rather than "eurgh, that's not Spider-Man".

  10. Mike 13

    The fact that Peter thinks he's using his RIGHT hand is a CLUE... not an error... Taken from this very site, as well as long time reader stillanerd... Basically, when Peter and Doc Ock's minds were momentarily linked via the gold octobot, which is what allowed Peter to make Doc Ock experience all of his memories as if Doc Ock lived them, it also allowed Peter, instead of dying, to be uploaded back into his body. However, because his body had already deteriorated prior to his "death," only the patterns of the right hemisphere of Peter's brain were uploaded. Some of the clues for this can be: *Peter mentions in ASM #700 that he lost vision in his right eye. The left hemisphere of the brain is what controls the right-half of the human body. *All the images he's projected to Doc Ock prior to his death were emotional in nature, and the right hemisphere of the brain is the half associated with emotions. Notice also that, whenever Peter is rummaging around in Doc Ock's memories, it's always tied to whatever emotions Doc Ock is currently feeling at the present time. *SpOck displays far more traits associated with the left hemisphere, such as scientific reasoning and logic, whereas Ghost Peter displays traits that are more associated with the right brain, such as emotions and holistic thinking. *Ghost Peter is only able to prevent SpOck from killing Boomerang and Cardiac whenever SpOck tried to use his left hand. The gun that SpOck used to kill Massacre was in his right hand. *When Ghost Peter tried to regain control of his body and write a message in Superior Spider-Man #7, he kept saying "c'mon right hand" but the art clearly showed he was actually using his left hand. Furthermore, when it comes out as nothing but meaningless scribbles, Peter laments that he doesn't have access to the language centers of his own brain. Language skills reside in the left hemisphere of the brain. *In the preview for Superior Spider-Man #9, we see Peter surrounded by iconic landmarks such as Midtown High and the Daily Bugle, but the letters on the building are all scrambled. Again, suggesting an inability to access the left hemisphere, again the part of the brain associated with language, but no problem accessing the right hemisphere, which is associated with spatial awareness. Thus the theory goes that Doc Ock may purge Ghost Peter by shutting down the right hemisphere of the brain, essentially giving himself the equivalent of a hemispherectomy. And, just like in those operations, the brain would be able to compensate for whichever half was lost due to plasticity, but there would also be some side-effects such as minor paralysis in the left side and vision impairment. So rather than bitch... enjoy the ride...

  11. hornacek

    I really can't understand the Marvel higher-ups thinking this was a good idea. Consider my mind boggled. Also, did they think this would bring in new readers? They had to have known that there would be some readers that would stop buying after 700, but did they think that amount would be offset by a group of people saying "hmm, I've never read Spider-Man because I'm not that interested in the character, but you're saying he's now been replaced with a villain that has tried to kill everyone on the planet and everyone thinks that he's Spider-Man? Wow, that makes me want to buy a Spider-Man comic now." It's like they're deliberately trying to kill sales, which is not the case since they're in the business of selling comics. I just can't wrap my head around the logic that went into making this decision.

  12. Sbee613

    I'm almost convinced slott has something over the big wigs at marvel which lets him get away with with the most asisinine stories he can create. And this new edgier spidey is just slott seeing how far he can take it.

  13. cubman987

    Well the Avengers subplot doesn't really lead to nowhere, it leads to Otto knowing for sure that Peter is still in there.

  14. Sbee613

    I don't care if its a rebirth a reboot or resurrection or whatever just give us the real damn spider-man please and get rid of this exaggerated marvels "what if?" Travesty

  15. Nick MB

    @1 I don't think you'd need a reboot... everything "Spidey" has done has been clearly established as someone else in his body, so you'd just need to pull Otto out and bring Peter back, which you could probably do in two or three issues. It might not be very good, but it would "fix this" easily enough. (Not that I think it needs fixing, etc.)

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