Superior Spider-Man #13 Review (Chris’s Take)

ssm13Fighting Alistair Smythe puts the Superior Spider-Man’s life on a whole new trajectory. Read my review! Leave a comment or you won’t matter!

 “No Escape Part Three: The Slayers and the Slain”
PLOT: Dan Slott
SCRIPT: Christos Gage
PENCILER: Giuseppe Camuncoli
INKERS: John Dell & Terry Pallot
COLOR ART: Antonio Fabela
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
COVER: Camuncoli/Delgado



    • Vulture starts disabling the forcefield protecting the civilians in the Raft prison. Scorpion attacks Jonah, but the Lizard saves Jonah.
    • Octo-Spidey impales Smythe with Smythe’s own blade. Downing Smythe disables the implants empowering Vulture, Scorpion, and Boomerang, incapacitating them.
    • As everyone strolls out of the Raft, Smythe attacks again. His body has died, but his robotic components and his mind remain active. Zombie Cyborg Meat Puppet Smythe kills the head guard. Smythe attempts tries to swap minds with Spider-Man, but our protagonist anticipated that and shielded his cranium. As Smythe seems to die for real, Otto tells him his true identity.
    • Spider-Man uses a recording of Jonah ordering him to kill Smythe to blackmail Jonah into granting Spider-Man the Raft as his personal headquarters (I won’t even begin to explain how legally absurd that is). In his new digs (renamed “Spider-Island Two”), Spider-Man orders an army of minions and a new costume by telephone, and he builds a giant machine.


Parts one and two of “No Escape” were so nondescript that part three improves on them just by virtue of something happening in it. I don’t even know whether I like what’s happening–I won’t know until I see how Slott executes it–for now, I’ll just comment that, indeed, stuff’s happening. When I wrote my last review, I couldn’t perceive how Octo-Spidey’s killing Smythe would “say anything about Octo-Spidey that his murdering Massacre didn’t already say.” To some extent, the current issue proved me wrong because Spider-Man carrying out Jonah’s kill order put our protagonist in a better position to blackmail the mayor of New York–instead of simply having solicited murder, Jonah is now complicit in what is arguably actual murder. Otto’s putting the mayor in his pocket, establishing a fortress, assembling an army, and building a giant robot does convey that the story has substantially escalated, with Octo-Spidey falling further and further into a supervillain’s mold.

But I rarely grade a comic based on future potential rather than the present issue’s content. In terms of actual content, roughly the first half of the comic sports more of what I found boring in chapters one and two. Spider-Man and Smythe throw hammy lines at each other while the “upgraded” villains do nothing interesting. The Scorpion has a short, unimaginative fight with the Lizard, and the Vulture menaces some bland, unsympathetic civilians.

Seriously, this lawyer's pitch is "let us live and I'll give you the same defense that got my last client the death penalty"?

Seriously, this lawyer’s pitch is “let us live and I’ll give you the same defense that got my last client the death penalty”?

All this ends when Spider-Man kills Smythe, which causes the other villains’ tech to fail. Now, I actually think Spidey’s method of dispatching Smythe and the dialogue that accompanies it was pretty awesome. That goes a long way toward adding the + to the C I’m giving this issue. My problem with this scene is that it’s a lousy pay-off for last issue’s cliffhanger. Last issue seemed like it turned the old “sadistic choice” (to quote movie-Goblin) trope on its head–Smythe thrust Octo-Spidey into a position where he could only rescue one of two groups of civilians, but instead of agonizing over that choice Otto goes straight in to kill his foe, innocents be damned. That disregard for the lives in the balance would have made for an effective way to show the scary edge to Otto’s character, to show that erasing the lingering bits of Peter Parker made the Superior Spider-Man dangerous. Instead, Slott and Gage whitewashed the gray out of the scenario by having Smythe’s death solve all the problems at once, and having that be what Otto was expecting. (Otto says to Smythe, “Permanently shutting you down was the only solution. The only way to save them all.”) That takes all the weight out of Otto’s choice–he wasn’t actually prioritizing killing Smythe over saving everyone.

By the way, I don’t give a rat’s behind that Alistair Smythe died. He was always a lame villain. As a kid, I had the toy of Smythe’s hover chair from the 90s cartoon. I didn’t get the Smythe toy because I thought he sucked. In my bedroom, it was the Hobgoblin’s hover chair.

Smythe’s brief return as a zombie meat puppet cyborg added some unexpected horror flavor to the issue, somewhat mitigating the pervading genericness. But honestly, the writers did little interesting with the concept. Zombie Smythe kills bland, sympathetic civilian #4 and . . . yawn . . . sorry, I almost fell asleep at my keyboard. Smythe’s attempting to pull a mind swap and Otto foreseeing it was a cute touch, but not cute enough to influence my overall impression of the comic.

Smythe rises again in his final boss form.

Smythe rises again in his final boss form.

In summation, “No Escape” was a mediocre three-parter, yet it did guide the series to an interesting new status quo. I stand cautiously intrigued.




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(19) Comments

  1. Darth Spidey

    @ 17--You know as much as I can't wait for a new writer, you're 100% correct. The next writer will be viewed as a hero, although I'd hate to be him/her. Can you imagine fixing the hot mess that this book has quickly become. Character's written out of context due to plot armor and in the name of keeping a love affair with a villian going, reviving/ restoring other characters from the brutality of Sp-Ock's beatings and manipulation, and the sheer damage control of restoring reputations alone is going to require some fancy manuvering. Not that I think this will happen any time soon, unfortunately. At this point I figure Slott will squeeze this book for all it's worth, and only when he's drained every last drop of worth out of it do I see him discarding it for some other poor schmuck to clean up his mess.

  2. Sbee

    Ok after the absurd status quo change that this terrible issue caused when are the avengers going to start to catch on and beat the living hell out of him? Of course like @3 said slott would never have Ock not have the upper hand. I expect eventually hell own the helicarrier and possibly the raft. The funny part about this whole scenario is that whoever replaces slott is going to be looked at as a hero even if the writer is historically a terrible writer.

  3. Insane2201

    And this is why Doc Ock as Spider-man bothers me. It is basically their excuse to kill off characters in this story since Dan Slott has free reign over this garbage and the editors give not a single crap about what it will spiral into. "This villain is dangerous and killed x amount of people since he started." or "This character has not appeared since x comic so lets kill them off." Not giving future writers much of a chance to place with those background characters because a majority of the time if the person is not a super hero or villain their death is permanent. Also "spider-island 2" better turn some attention on "spidey" because that crap almost got the whole world destroyed last time.

  4. Darth Spidey

    @11....Now that is a book I would happily read....Too bad Marvel and Slott don't seem to care about what the fans want.

  5. Superspidey

    @11 did you mean 8?@10 I think that they could actually bring Peter back whilst (partly) undoing OMD too:Part 1. Peters soul has been captured by Mephisto. Peter demands to be released. Mephisto says he will send Peter to see Death for the price of his and MJ "remembering" Part 2. Peter having agreed and been sent to Death is in anguish. Death speaks to Peter, saying he has earned the right to as a hero and she'll send him back Part 3. Peter and SpOck fight (both physically and with a war of words). Peters identity is revealed during the fight and SpOcks cover is blown Part 4. Peter has to face his inadequacies when compared to the efficiency of SpOck and has to rebuild the trust of his family, friends and colleagues (esp. MJ). Part 5. Meanwhile SpOck goes on trial to pay for the crimes committed as Ock and Spider-Man, finally having to face what he's done. (JJJ too)

  6. Asa

    @7 We aren't looking for flaws. We expect comics to surprise us and challenge us and to portray characters in the way that's consistent with previous characterisations. SpOck isn't mean to be all seeing and all knowing, as he is in this issue (and every issue since ASM #700). What this issue did was make almost every action every character took in this arc inconsequential, save that Smythe was killed and SpOck now has JJJ by the balls.

  7. Enigma_2099

    How in the hell are they gonna fix this mess? If anything, all they're doing is justifying the distrust of Peter when he DOES come back...

  8. E. Wilson

    This story would have probably been better suited to cutting the Boomerang/Scorpion/Vulture stuff, and being told in two parts instead of three. The idea of Spock being attacked by the villains he'd brutalized was a solid one, but if you're not actually going to do anything with the concept, why bother?

  9. Nick

    This was my first issue of superior and to me it wasn't that bad i would give it a solid B just because i wasnt looking for the flaws

  10. herbiepopnecker

    " Smythe’s attempting to pull a mind swap and Otto foreseeing it was a cute touch, but not cute enough to influence my overall impression of the comic." Is this Spider-Man or Doctor Strange? - would have been my reaction.

  11. webhead09

    A spider Island 2 and Spock is going to have Minions......... and people wonder why I believe Spider-Man is dead.You know what's really sad? Every Spider-Man writer will go down in comic history for their own respectable reasons bc of the awesome stories they've told. meanwhile Dan is only going down bc of his ignorance and the fact he pissed off more ppl then Jeph Loeb did

  12. Extreme Spider

    Smythe ended up like the generic Power Rangers villain. But that Spider-Island two things pissed me off big time. I agree with the C+ it was just there until the last few minutes. But even then it still average.

  13. Xan

    The only reason I was interested in this arc at all was because I thought there was a lot of interesting potential for what the Lizard's appearance could be (especially back before ghost!Peter was erased, seeing as to Curt, he thought his secret died with Ock when he had actually revealed himself to Peter), what with the whole 'Lizard is a good guy in a supervillain's body and Ock!Spidey is a villain in a hero's body' dynamic that could have made for an interesting team-up -- and all we got was him mostly being a plot device to save JJJ, blowing his secret, an off-screen Scorpion fight, and then he just randomly drops off. For a team-up that was hyped up on the cover and in the solicitations, the two characters didn't even interact or acknowledge each other in the issue!

  14. Collier Jennings

    #1: Well what did you expect? Dan Slott plotted this. And Dan Slott is a massive Doc Ock fanboy. #2: I know that feel, actually liked Alistair (in the comics. The 90's show...not so much.)

  15. DCMarvelFanGuy

    How dare you?!?!? You describe the awesomness that is Alistair Smythe as "lame?" Hmph. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree then. :PI atcually enjoyed this story a whole lot more than anyone on the panel. I found it very entertaining and enjoyable even though Smythe died :(.Great review, Chris. I always enjoy listening and reading your opion.

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