THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #14
“A Blind Eye”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
- The Superior Spider-Man (Otto Octavius’s mind in Peter Parker’s body) leads an army of spider-themed paramilitary troopers and giant spider robots into Shadowland, the Kingpin’s stronghold in Hell’s Kitchen. This spider brigade guns down a lot of ninjas.
- Blackmailed by Spider-Man, Mayor Jameson must unwillingly sanction this operation.
- The Kingpin fakes his death by killing a body double and flees in a one-man submarine. The Hobgoblin (Phil Urich) must fend for himself. Thanks to the Green Goblin’s tampering with Spidey’s tech, the spider-bots cannot detect Goblins, so Hobgoblin escapes.
- The surviving ninjas join the Green Goblin’s underground army. Dubbing himself the “Goblin Kingpin of Crime,” Green Goblin announces that he now controls 52% of New York’s organized crime.
This issue is about Spider-Man and a death squad of robots and soldiers slaughtering ninjas. After you’ve read that sentence, you either want to buy this comic or you don’t. I honestly don’t think any review can add or subtract from that basic truth.
Superior Spider-Man #14 tickled me in a good way. I can’t help but crack a grin at Slott and Ramos’s to-the-maxness and the sheer in-your-facemanship of their craft. Even as someone who often prefers stories emphasizing character development and relationship dynamics, I can dig an issue like this every now and then, especially when they are this well-executed.
To great effect, the issue begins from the perspective of a Hell’s Kitchen resident and his son, whom we meet again toward the end of the main sequence. Hearing the repetitive “TOOM” sound effect of the Imperial Spider-Walkers rattle their apartment, and seeing the massive machine’s leg through their window grants the reader a ground-level feel for the scale of Spider-Man’s urban assault. That sense of enormity stuck with me throughout the shock and awe of the insane massacre to follow.
Slott’s new story direction makes the Superior Spider-Man less of a conventional “gritty” anti-hero and more like a “super-villain-hero,” for lack of a better term. That is, he fights crime using tactics and an attitude associated with a saturday morning stock villain, such as themed minions, maniacal monologues, and huge mechanical spiders. I can’t say whether or how many times this particular spin on familiar comic tropes has been done in the past, but to me it at least seems like a fresh avenue for a leading, mainstream superhero title to take. Slott, with his affection for cliches and hammy dialogue, is probably the perfect writer to do something like this, and Otto Octavius is the perfect character with which to do it.
Now, a comic that relies extensively on bombastic spectacle requires a decent artist, and this issue has the next best thing: Humberto Ramos. I credit his exaggerated style for emphasizing this story’s cartoonish and frenetic nature. On the other hand, I really dislike his rendition of Spider-Man. Here is the debut of a new Spidey costume–one Ramos himself designed–yet all I can think about is how ugly Spider-Man looks with his swollen back, his torso that impossibly swivels at the base of his rib cage, and his grotesquely deformed legs. Preview images for upcoming issues drawn by different artists reveal that this is a cool suit design, but the getup’s creator sure doesn’t introduce it attractively.
I have two random points before I sign off. First, I found the Kingpin’s body double, “Smedley Kornfeld,” hilarious. That may say something disturbing about me considering he dies three panels after he’s introduced, but the idea of someone whose job it is to sit on a couch eating chicken wings until the Kingpin needs a fat, dead decoy is funny to me for some sick reason. Second, I’m getting tired of the Green Goblin subplot. Every few issues Slott teases us with a glimpse of the Goblin recruiting a few more henchmen, but I’m beyond finding that interesting without more. Get on with the show, already. But good work, overall.