Superior Spider-Man #8 – Chris’s Take


ssm8covPeter plays Pictionary, Otto plays operation, and the Avengers play the fools. Check out my full review of Superior Spider-Man #8 and leave a comment!

THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #8
 “Troubled Mind Part 2: Proof Positive”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos

 

PLOT POINTS:

  • The Avengers subject Spider-Man to scientific tests to confirm his identity. Luckily for Otto, none of the actual scientists on the Avengers are present, and only Otto notices the anomaly in his brain patterns. Assuming that Peter must have just woke up on the wrong side of the bed the day he brutally murdered an unarmed man in public, the Avengers put Spider-Man on probation. Ghost Peter tries signaling Black Widow by making his hand draw a picture on a note pad, but Widow fails to understand the message.
  • Carlie Cooper conspires with an unseen individual to expose Doctor Octopus.
  • Spider-Man tracks Cardiac to his underground clinic to retrieve the neural scanner Cardiac stole last issue. Cardiac explains that he needs the device to save a child Doctor Octopus injured in an old scheme. Stricken with guilt, Octo-Spidey operates on the child himself. Spidey reconciles with Cardiac, who allows our hero to borrow the neural scanner.
  • With the neural scanner, Otto discovers Ghost Peter, who represents Peter’s lingering memories. Otto prepares to perform a “Parker-ectomy.”
Ghost Peter does his best Keanu.

Ghost Peter does his best impression of Keanu Reeves.

OPINIONS!

The subplot concerning the world’s reaction to Spider-Man murdering a man in cold blood has transitioned from frustrating to insulting. Although Spider-Man uncharacteristically and publicly shot a crying, disabled man in the face, he’s suffered no personal consequences except in the slow background plot involving the Avengers. Here, the Avengers finally take action, but nothing substantial comes of it because of the contrivance that the five dozen or so scientifically-inclined superheroes are too busy to administer the identity tests. And although Black Widow offers Spider-Man her support now that Spidey has “red in [his] ledger” (quoting the Avengers film), none of the other Avengers deign to inquire why their formerly-pacifist ally has become drastically more violent. They just declare he isn’t an impostor, say they’ll keep on eye on him, and call it a day. There’s no “jeez, Spidey, you just busted a cap in that guy’s skull, is something going on that you want to tell us about?” Actually, if the Avengers are convinced this is the real Peter Parker then that should provoke even greater alarm, not because no Avenger has ever murdered (Wolverine’s speech in #6 addressed that point), but because it is so unusual for PETER.

Black Widow

Dan Slott does his best impression of Joss Whedon.

Meanwhile, Carlie Cooper has flat out been told the truth, but she’s stalling until she proves it to a scientific degree of certainty. Until then, she cannot bring herself to say her “theory” out loud. What a crock! Even entertaining the dubious proposition that Marvel residents would find a mind swap utterly implausible, Carlie must at least disclose that Doctor Octopus told her the mind swap occurred. She does not need to jeopardize her reputation by claiming to believe the mind swap occurred, but she does owe the people Peterpus endangers to at least relate Peter-Ock’s statement. Someone has already died because Carlie withheld that information, and more are at risk, including Carlie’s friends.

All of the above constitute pathetic excuses to keep this story from falling into the gravity well of logic that would otherwise pull it to its end. Characters act stupid, reckless, and irrational simply to lengthen the mind swap saga. I thought the benefit to dedicating an ongoing series to this premise, instead of the usual issue or three, was to fully explore the concept of one man living another man’s life. But exploring a concept means developing it logically, not rigging the story to wrestle it awkwardly into an insincere form.

Of course, everything I just mentioned was a secondary plot within this Cardiac story arc (which is part of the problem), and I should aim at least some attention toward the main event. The theme of “red” being in Otto’s “ledger” (i.e., he has a debt to repay) resurfaces when Otto realizes that as Spider-Man he can compensate for the harm he inflicted as Doctor Octopus. This angle on the scenario slightly changes Otto’s motivation because before he seemed more driven to make up for the humiliations Doc Ock experienced, but not necessarily the moral wrongs he committed. This shift in perspective arises through the little girl Otto previously injured. I give this series some credit because it established earlier that Otto sympathizes with children and now it uses a child to facilitate character growth. Sadly, Slott and Ramos deliver the scene itself with such schmaltz that I almost gagged and I did roll my eyes.

The sick, bald kid, the exchange of stuffed animals, and silent hug are laying it on a bit thick.

The sick, bald kid, the exchange of cutesy toys, and the silent moment where everyone adores one another are laying it on a bit thick.

An interesting tension inheres between Otto’s turn toward good on one hand and his resolve to definitively “kill” Ghost Peter on the other. Hopefully, this development will lead to an interesting story next month. It better be good to make up for the crappy, botched Avengers subplot. This series has some brown in its ledger, if you catch my drift.

D+

 

LEAVE A COMMENT!

Spider-Man dons the most redundant hairnet and face mask ever.

Spider-Man dons the most redundant hairnet and face mask ever.

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(29) Comments

  1. Sbee613

    Oh and @24 yeah mists of the wolves was a bit out there but he's been damn near flawless till then I'm sure when everything is laid out in front of us we won't think anything of it.

  2. Sbee613

    @22 that's a damn good point I never looked at it like that. It says something about slott when the guy who doesn't even handle the main series is looked at as the real current spidey writer haha

  3. RDMacQ

    @24- Yes, Slott has implied that this is about Ock's "redemption." I think it's his way of "throwing off" suspicion of what the story is "really" about. Which would only work if you have the attention span of a gnat and are easily distracted by pretty colors and shiny objects.

  4. CrazyChris - Post author

    13 - I don't mind a story trying to get us to enjoy reading about a character even if he's a very bad person. He's a fun character because of his ego and the cliched way he speaks, but he can also be frightening. I think Slott balances those sides of the character pretty well. Slott clearly has affection for the character and tries to make him amusing, but he doesn't forget Ock's darker side in my opinion. He had Otto kill a man in cold blood, brutally beat two minor criminals, and nearly kill Cardiac who was arguably doing something good. I agree with your point about everyone else being dumb bells. That's my problem. 14 - I don't think we have to root for Ock for this series to work; we just have to be interested in him. Being interested in a character doesn't require sympathy, it just requires that the character be complex enough that a reader can spend some time thinking about him and feel rewarded for doing so. 15 - Yeah. I don't get why suddenly the world is rallying around Ock because he IS a dangerous vigilante, but the same people hounded Peter because they THOUGHT he was a dangerous vigilante. Isn't Otto confirming their worst fears about Spider-Man? 16 - I second 23. Did Slott say this was a redemption story? Even if he did say something like that, the comic itself isn't insincere on the nature of the story. Otto seems to be finding redemption in this issue only for him to turn around and try to perform a "Parker-ectomy," which would effectively finalize his murder of Peter. That's an interesting tension. I don't think this story can be pigeonholed as a "redemption story." I think Slott's trying to keep us guessing and figuring out what to make of Otto. 17 - What do you think was so good about this issue? Let's start a discussion about that. I already gave my reasons for disliking it. 18 - That, too. 19 - Fair enough. 20 - Avenging is okay. I think it has less shockingly bad moments than Superior, but on the other hand Superior is better at keeping me anxious to know what happens next and counting down the days until the next issue. 21 - I loved Scarlet Spider but I didn't like the "In the Midst of Wolves" story. Hopefully that The Other-related stuff is behind us. 22 - Yeah, based on some of the stronger issues of Scarlet Spider, I would be happy to see Yost on ASM.

  5. Nick MB

    @21 Considering Yost is writing both the secondary Spidey title AND a spin-off, he does seem to be the number two Spidey writer right now. You gotta think he'd be a good bet to take over when Slott moves on, unless he's moved on himself by the time that happens. And I'd be open to that as Yost's Scarlet Spider work is fun.

  6. Sbee613

    You want a good spidey comic? please invest in scarlet spider everyone!!! It is so far above and beyond the quality of superior I fantasize Chris yost as the amazing spider-man writer.

  7. Liide

    This review sums up a lot of my problems with the Superior run. The idea is interesting, but the ham-handed delivery of its main writer is killing it. Honestly if I want to read a good Superior Spider-Man story I'm going to pick up the Avenging Spider-Man, not the Superior.

  8. RDMacQ

    @17- That could be because different people have different ideas about what constitutes a "good" Spider-Man comic.

  9. jeff

    For a website dedicated to Spider-Man, your site has some pretty negative things to say about good Spider-Man issues.

  10. RDMacQ

    @14- That's the main problem with this entire narrative. We are being told we are supposed to root for Ock's redemption. But the only reason he's IN a position to be redeemed is because he stole the identity and life of a man who selflessly tried to stop him every time he tried to hurt or kill innocent people, and he has NO feelings of guilt regarding that. I'm sorry, but you can't sell a story of redemption about someone who essentially committed murder to get where he is, and feels no remorse over that principle action. This is not, nor ever will be, a redemption story. And the fact Slott seems to believe that we are dumb enough to believe that really says a lot about what he thinks about his audience.

  11. Enigma_2099

    One of the worst parts about this status quo is people blatantly overlooking stuff that Peter would have been hounded, blamed, and hunted for if he was around. Imagine how it's gonna feel when the original comes back and we're right back to blaming him for the common cold.

  12. hornacek

    I could potentially get behind the idea of this comic if Ock showed ANY guilt over his past criminal actions with his newfound outlook. I get that with 700 they wanted him to realize "OMG Peter is such a selfless hero, I must do my part to follow in his footsteps and be an even better Spider-Man!" but have they actually shown him feeling guilt over the many many many people he has killed? I see they have him feeling guilt over a kid that was affected by one of his schemes that Cardiac is trying to save but come on he tried to kill millions (billions?) in the Ends of the Earth storyline. And that's just one - didn't he try to poison the ink in the Daily Bugle to kill millions of New Yorkers in one of the annuals? I mean, the list goes on and on. I remember a scene where he casually snapped someone's neck that was annoying him. Not a impediment to his plans, but just some Joe Schmo that was annoying him. The idea that we're supposed to root for this guy when he hasn't shown any realization that "holy crap, I am a narcissistic psychopathic mass-murderer beyond redemption" is just beyond me.

  13. Jack Brooks

    What I meant to say is that the reader is supposed to feel /entertained/ by Ock, and intrigued by his fitful heroic impulses. He's intended to be interesting and exciting. He feels touched by the gift of Mr. Pinky Penguin. But Ock is a mass murderer, and he got into this role by murdering Peter (and appears ready to do that again, neurologically). Ock is a blood-stained man, despite his funny, old-fashioned super-villain argot. To me, this set-up is different from other villain-led series like Tomb of Dracula. ToD never portrayed Drac as anything but a straight-up bad guy, and who you /really/ rooted for was the supporting cast that was hunting him. In contrast, Slott portrays Ock with obvious affection, invites us to understand him better, and has surrounded Ock with dumb-bells. I realize this is a problem with any comic book villain semi-redemption story. If the super-villains would really be accountable for their histories, they would all be in the electric-chair forthwith. But Ock is just as horrible a person as Norman, and I think of that as the stories invite us to get excited on Otto's behalf as he battles various bad guys.

  14. Sbee613

    @10 Oh don't worry I assure you there are plenty that share our feelings towards the matter.

  15. Enigma_2099

    "Carlie Cooper conspires with an unseen individual to expose Doctor Octopus." Gaaah... I was really hoping that he wouldn't do this, even though I obviously knew he would. She's the only person he seems to want to write as being smart enough to "know" something's wrong. This is bad comedy.[/Galvatron]

  16. CrazyChris - Post author

    8 - I'm glad I'm not the only person with these thoughts about this story.

  17. CrazyChris - Post author

    1 - What'd you love about this issue? Maybe we can get a discussion going. 2 - "I can forgive and even embrace an Idiot Plot in its proper place . . . But when the characters have depth and their decisions have consequences, I grow restless when their misunderstandings could be ended by words that the screenplay refuses to allow them to utter." -- Roger Ebert. 3 - When it comes to characters picking up on Otto's dialogue, Slott uses a form of Roger Rabbit logic: the characters are only perceptive as they need to be for whatever gag Slott's going for. For example, Uatu Jackson notices something when Otto says "accessing memories," and Otto calling Sajani "fetching" is enough to make question marks float over her head. But anything the plot really needs the characters to be clueless, like in this issue, Otto talking like a cliche villain doesn't even phase them. 4 - Yeah, that sucked too. 5 - Slott always lulls me into thinking he's not that bad only to turn around and shock me with how bad something he writes can be. 6 - I don't quite get what you mean. Would you elaborate?

  18. Sbee613

    This is quite insulting how little slott must think of his readers to believe we're stupid enough to think this little rouse wouldn't have been discovered by now with everything that's faux spidey has dealt with. You're telling me with all the great minds that are out there not one was available for this psyche evaluation hell even reed Richards would have made it a priority to see what is going on with his sometimes teammate. Slott is really just sucked this idea dry I'm assuming he's never heard the phrase blood from a stone he should inquire. Sorry for the rant

  19. erikson

    @3 "NOTE: I’ve heard that the Avengers retconned that Peter and Spider-Woman were in high school (?) together" That is Jessica Jones who went to HS with Peter, not Jessica Drew.

  20. Jack Brooks

    I still can't get around the fact that Doc Ock is a mass murderer, but it's like we're supposed to forget about that.

  21. Donovan Grant

    That fact that Slott keeps introducing intriguing story elements and carrying them out while consciously avoiding the natural consequences has changed my opinion of him from someone whose style I don't care for to someone who honestly is not as good of a writer as I once thought.

  22. Asa

    I found it a little implausible that Cardiac wasn't like "You have no idea how to perform a surgical procedure and I will not let you touch this child" and basically went "You do what you gotta do!"

  23. hornacek

    How are the Avengers this stupid? Even if "Spider-Man" killing someone in cold blood with a gun isn't enough to make them question that he isn't the same person, his dialogue alone should be enough to let them know. Last issue he tells Cap "Unhand me you fool!" Wolverine, who has known Spider-Man/Peter the longest of any of these Avengers (?) should instantly know that Peter doesn't talk like this. He's been replaced by a movie villain from 60 years ago. NOTE: I've heard that the Avengers retconned that Peter and Spider-Woman were in high school (?) together but even though she may have met him first, Wolverine has had the longest relationship with him. Hell, their interactions in the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine special (where they went to Germany) told Wolverine enough about Peter's character for him to know "this is not the same person".

  24. krankyboy

    You know, there are movies where characters act stupidly in order to service the plot, and the majority of the audience soon grows agitated with the nonsense. Superior Spider-Man is just that type of movie in comic book form. The fact that "Spider-Man" just murdered someone should have been the end of the entire ruse. Of course, this is assuming that anyone in the story has a brain to pass around between them.

  25. Mike 13

    I loved the issue... felt a bit cheated that he was able to fool the Avengers... but it's all good. :)

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