THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #15
“Run, Goblin, Run! Part 1 of 2: The Tinkerer’s Apprentice”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
- The Hobgoblin (AKA Phil Urich) visits the Tinkerer (AKA Phineas Mason) for equipment repairs. Tinkerer subcontracts the job to Tyberius Stone (AKA Ty). Ty retains a grudge against Phil from a previous story I’ve already forgotten about, so he sabotages Phil’s gear.
- Carlie Cooper and Captain Watanabe don’t like Spider-Man’s (AKA Otto Octavius possessing Peter Parker’s body) murderous rampage from last issue one bit, and they’re going to put a stop to it . . . as soon as they get more proof!
- Phil must pay Rodrick Kingsley (AKA the first Hobgoblin) royalties, so he commits a spree of robberies. The Green Goblin (AKA I’ve stopped caring who he is) himself vows to put Hobgoblin in his place, and deactivates the goblin-proof hacks he installed in Spider-Man’s tech so that Spider-Man can take Phil down.
- Doc Ock has neglected his life as Peter Parker. However, he finds time to accompany Anna Maria Marconi to the Empire State University, where the chancellor awards “Peter” his final credit. “Peter” need only present his thesis to earn his doctorate.
- Spidey’s minions locate Hobgoblin. While fighting Spider-Man, Hobgoblin’s weapons fail due to Ty’s tampering. Spider-Man follows Hobgoblin to the Daily Bugle, where he discovers the Hobgoblin’s true identity. Spider-Man pirates all the television channels is New York, tells the world that the Hobgoblin is Phil Urich, and provides a 1-800 number so that citizens can call in with information.
I initially rated this one as a B, but Don and Ryan’s reviews persuade me to slap a big old minus on that bad boy. They reminded me of the absurdity of the entire supporting cast’s failure to move past the “oh my, something’s off with Peter” phase. The dude just trampled into the middle of Manhattan in an A.T.A.T., killed a bunch of magic ninjas in cold blood, and (as far as the cast knows) murdered Wilson Fisk. In a world of super heroes, someone would put a stop to this. Mayor Jameson, whom Spider-Man identified as his font of authorization and funding, would be federally investigated. And Carlie Cooper, who has known about the mind swap since Amazing Spider-Man #700, should quit standing still and warn society that a psychopath has basically taken over the New York.
But what lets me look past the story’s flaws is this: Dan Slott is having an obscene amount fun and that enthusiasm infects the reader. (Yes, I presume to speak for “the reader.”) Honestly, I think the three recent Christos Gage-scripted issues helped me appreciate better the enthusiasm Slott brings to the table. Guys like Christos Gage and Chris Yost (good writers, by all means) write SpOck like it’s their job, or like a writing challenge to puzzle through. But Slott writes SpOck like there’s nothing he’d rather do. At every line of pompous dialogue like “minions, attend me!”, and at scenes like where SpOck’s face appears on all the Times Square monitors, flashing the 1-800-555-SPDY number, I visualize Slott giggling to himself at his writing desk. Not that a middle-aged man giggling in an empty room is a mental image I actively seek. Not that there would be anything wrong with it if I did. But one finds oneself swept up in the gleefulness with which Dan Slott writes Superior Spider-Man.
By the way, I think that was the first time I used the portmanteau “SpOck” in reference to the Spider-Man/Doc Ock hybrid. It’s my least favorite moniker fandom has constructed for that character–I’ve always preferred “Peterpus”–but “SpOck” caught on and I’ve quit resisting it.
Anyhooz, I enjoyed this issue. I enjoyed it even though I find characters like Phil Urich and Tyberius Stone grating and uninteresting. Phil earns some reader empathy by the issue’s end by actually being a relatable super villain and a truer “anti-Peter Parker” than other villains hitherto so described. I’m still rooting for him to die, but Slott and Ramos have me thrilling to the chase. Tyberius Stone is still an awful character, though.
But I can tolerate minor irritants when the story remains substantially engaging. It’s not all goofy fun, either; we get solid character and relationship development. SpOck considers withdrawing from his life as Peter Parker to fully invest himself in Spider-Man, but right at that moment he receives a call from Anna Maria–the best character introduced in Slott’s run–and it becomes obvious, but not explicitly stated, that she is what’s tethering SpOck to the real world.
Two more points. First, I’m over the Green Goblin subplot. I don’t want to see him again until he does something. Technically, in this issue he undoes the one thing he’s done in this series by switching off his spider-hacks. Second, Ramos’s art in this issue looks far better than usual. He occasionally slips in a few awful proportions, but overall he keeps the story energetic without going too off-the-wall.