Superior Spider-Man #12 Review (Chris’s Take)

ssm12covHere’s an alternate take on Superior Spider-Man #12. Don gave this issue a low–mediocre grade. Was he . . . WRONG?!?! Read my review to find out. Leaving a comment is mandatory.

 “No Escape Part Two: Lockdown”
PLOT: Dan Slott
SCRIPT: Christos Gage
PENCILER: Giuseppe Camuncoli
INKERS: John Dell & Terry Pallot
COLOR ART: Antonio Fabela
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos



    • Spider-Man (currently possessed by Doctor Octopus’s mind, in case you didn’t know) encloses the civilians trapped in the Raft prison in a force field to protect them from the loosed villains. J. Jonah Jameson leaps from the shield perimeter before it shuts.
    • Spider-Man tells Alistair Smythe (NKA “the Spider-Slayer”) that the Raft’s main generator powers the traps with which Spidey secured the prison, sending Smythe on a “fool’s errand” to destroy the generator. Actually, Spidey’s defenses draw power from the prison’s inaccessible backup generators.
    • Jameson dons a fallen guard’s body armor and weapon, and he fires at Smythe in passing. Jameson instructs Spider-Man to see that Smythe dies that day by any means necessary.
    • The Lizard escapes his prison cell.
    • Scorpion, Vulture, and Boomerang, all enhanced by Smythe’s technology, attack Spider-Man. Spider-Man beats Boomerang by webbing Boomerang’s exploding boomerangs to Boomerang’s hands as they explode. Vulture and Scorpion split up to hunt the civilians. Rather than protecting the civilians, Spider-Man advances on Smythe with the intent to kill.


Honestly, my intro suggesting that Don was wrong about this issue was just to rope you in with the tantalizing prospect of controversy. In reality, “No Escape” is the least interesting Superior Spider-Man story yet. But don’t conflate “least interesting” with “worst” or even “bad.” Other stories, such as #2, are bad, but they are bad in ways that I find interesting to write about. SSM #12 is blandly competent. This book checks the requisite boxes: the art’s good, the action is good, the characterization is at least reasonable, and nothing specifically annoyed me. Only one line of dialogue struck me as ludicrously bad (“YOUR DEATH IS THE REASON I EXIST!”), but mostly Christos Gage’s work avoids being obnoxious. On a pass/fail grading system, this would pass.

What’s missing, though, is any satisfaction on a visceral level. This is an action-oriented issue, and when I recall the truly great Spidey issues in that vein they all share a sense of our hero being pushed to his limit mentally, physically, and spiritually. Great battles–like Spider-Man’s original battles against Juggernaut, Venom, and Morlun–convey that the protagonist is pulling every last bit of his resourcefulness and willpower together to overcome an extraordinary challenge. But as neat as the redesigned villains in Superior Spider-Man #12 look, Slott, Gage, and Camuncoli never convey that they are truly pushing Octo-Spidey to the edge. They get in a few cheap shots at the beginning but after a few pages Spider-Man starts trouncing them until Smythe calls them to other tasks. You could say the struggle I want to see isn’t the point of this issue, that the point is to show Otto’s skill in handling a situation through preparation and his willingness to fight an enemy to the death. But those themes are old now. Unless Superior Spider-Man can show us a new angle on the Octo-Spidey concept in every single issue, the concept does not merit a series.

Our new and improved villains, ladies and gentlemen.

Our new and improved villains, ladies and gentlemen.

I don’t particularly care whether Spider-Man kills Smythe or not. It wouldn’t say anything about Octo-Spidey that his murdering Massacre didn’t already say. Nor do I care what happens to the supporting characters. Mainstays like Jonah are obviously safe, and side characters like the priest, the lawyer, and the head guard are deliberately expendable and not remotely likable.

The one element I do find interesting is this issue’s use of Jonah. He proves quite the man of action, here. The imagery of Jameson in futuristic armor, toting his gun, can look rather comical, but I enjoy seeing him in the fray, and the narrative establishes his motives well. The issue starts with Jonah remembering that his wife’s dying wish was that Jonah not waste his life on hate, but Jonah claims he cannot honor that wish until after “Smythe pays.” There’s an interesting, believable, and tragic tension there, about how Jonah’s revenge ferver dishonors the very person he seeks to avenge. When Jonah later obliquely orders Spider-Man to execute Smythe, I bought it. Some have criticized this run for painting Jonah as a bloodthirsty fascist, but in this context it makes sense.

Party foul.

I think shooting someone in the back qualifies as a party foul.




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(15) Comments

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  3. Nick

    I just got into to comics but i loved most tv series except ultimate a hole but spiderman should just be spiderman not a puss not batman superman but spiderman

  4. Barrel Jumper stopped reading Superior Spider-Man?I never started......and based on these reviews (which save me a ton of money)...we are both better off.

  5. wwww789

    I honestly stopped reading Superior Spider-Man ages ago and I have to say, what I've seen of this story doesn't make me want to start reading it again.

  6. Nick MB

    I'm still hopeful that the last issue will contain the main action of the arc and thus be very good, but I do agree this particular one felt like a bit of a saggy middle part. Some good SpOck and JJJ character moments, but nothing hugely memorable.Shame, as one of Slott's strong points as a writer, for me, is that his stories don't often feel "decompressed". Stuff usually happens throughout. But this would probably have been tighter as a two-parter.

  7. CrazyChris - Post author

    @1 - Thanks!@2 - I agree that Slott writes Ock better than he writes Peter.@3 - That's the spirit!@4 - If an issue takes a certain theme that's been addressed already and explores it with significantly more depth, then that's fine, too. But I want every issue to give me something new to think about. There wasn't much there with this one. And I agree that "fun action issues" in super hero comics are fine. This issue wasn't that fun, though. The action was generic. It was a very mediocre issue.

  8. Matthew

    Just curious: Would it really have to show a new angle on SpOck every issue to be a worthwhile series? Some themes could be explored over several issues.Plus, thinking of pre-Clone Saga Spider-Man in the '90s, some issues were just fun action pieces. A series needs a certain amount of those issues to pace itself, it seems to me, just as a series needs the "cool down and relax" issues to give readers a break between the crises.I enjoy the reviews and other items on this site. Excellent job, everyone.

  9. Andrew

    I'm no fan of Slott, but I like this arc so far. Actually I've liked most of his SpOck stuff, which I suppose is funny since I really disliked the book when he was writing Peter Parker. Maybe we can get Slott a permanent Doc Ock gig when the REAL Spidey comes back.

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