THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #17
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Ryan Stegman
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
- In the future, Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara) fights dinosaurs and airplanes that I think have something to do with Age of Ultron. Anyway, Tyler Stone starts fading out of existence due to a time disturbance occurring in 2013. Tyler, head of the Alchemex corporation, is secretly Spidey 2099’s father, so if Tyler gets erased from history then bye bye Miguel. Spidey 2099 travels back in time to correct the disturbance.
- In the present, the Horizon Labs company softball game gets interrupted when federal agents arrest Max Modell for storing hazardous materials, harboring fugitives, and human experimentation.
- The goblins do nothing!
- Modell’s legal troubles leave Horizon vulnerable to a hostile takeover by Liz Allan’s company–Allan Chemical, or “Al Chem.” Liz appoints Tiberius Stone as Horizon’s new supervisor.
- Spider-Man 2099 emerges from Grady Scraps’s time machine. The dialogue suggests that “Al Chem” will become Alchemex in the future, with the current Horizon Labs site as Alchemex’s headquarters.
- Spider-Ock menaces Tiberius Stone on the street, but 2099 rescues Tiberius. Tiberius, it turns out, is 2099’s grandfather.
I adore Peter David’s writing and I intend to read the original Spider-Man 2099 series eventually, but that hasn’t happened yet. So I can’t tell you whether Superior Spider-Man #17 does the character justice. I can tell you, however, that the issue delivers another worthy installment in the recent chain of good Superior Spider-Man installments.
First of all: welcome back Ryan Stegman. I know little about Miguel O’Hara, but thanks to Stegman I at least know that he looks awesome. Really, really, freaking awesome. It elates me to see the decade’s best Spider-Man artist reintroduce Spider-Man 2099 in style. Stegman’s aesthetic even has a somewhat 90s feel, come to think of it.
That instant, visual appeal proves essential in connecting the reader with Miguel because Slott doesn’t provide much background regarding Miguel or his world. In a miscalculated decision, Slott dedicates Miguel’s first fake-slang-ridden scene to a battle with a T-Rex and World War II biplanes that were time-displaced due to the events of Age of Ultron. Slott should have focused those key pages on developing the actual workings of the year 2099 instead of wasting time on things that don’t normally exist there. I learn a few things incidentally from this scene, such as that an ostensively evil corporation has gained influence and that Miguel’s biological father owns it, but Slott never informs me what kind of person Miguel is, how he became Spider-Man, what motivates him, and what precisely his father did to make Miguel deem him “the source of everything wrong in this world.”
Perhaps ironically, given the buzz over Miguel’s return, I enjoyed the present-day story more. Slott packed the previous three fast-paced issues with over-the-top carnage and suspense, so I appreciated this issue’s more relaxed scenes of Potto interacting with the supporting cast. Peterpus works best when surrounded by characters like the Horizon crew and Anna Maria Marconi–people who knew the real Peter for a short time or not at all–because then I can appreciate his hilariously idiosyncratic speech without thinking the other characters are idiots for not discerning the truth. Of course, Liz reenters the fold this issue, and she’s known Peter longer than practically any other character, but I’ve always pegged her as pretty oblivious so she gets a pass.
Speaking of which, I welcome the return of Liz and Normie. I also like the clever connections between the present and 2099 Slott weaves, like Allan Chemical being a precursor to Alchemex and Tiberius Stone being related to Tyler Stone and Miguel. I recently discovered that the character Tiberius Stone originated from Frank Tieri’s Iron Man run in 2001, which shows the lengths to which Slott goes to knit together far-flung bits of forgotten continuity.
The cliffhanger promises a tussle between SpOck and Spwenty-99. I’ll gladly pay money to see Stegman draw that.