The Superior Spider-Man #18 Review (The one that Don wrote)


SUPSM2013018_DC11_LR_00001   SHOWDOWN! Doc Ock has to contend with a Spider-Man who knows more about him than he’s prepared to deal with! All this plus, the Hob/Green Goblin!  WRITTEN BY SLOTT

ILLUSTRATED BY STEGMAN

INKED BY LIVESAY

COLORED BY DELGADO

LETTERED BY ELIOPOULOS

PLOT: Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, has arrived in a timely fashion to save Tiberius Stone’s butt from getting thrashed by the Superior Spider-Man a.k.a. Doctor Octopus. In the ensuing battle, Stone activates his Spider-Jammer, causing Ock’s Spider-Sense to funk up. 2099 realizes that his grandfather’s a raging tool, and begins contemplating the possibility that perhaps letting Stone die and wiping out his and Tyler Stone’s futures would be a good thing for his future to have.

BASICALLY…: Whilst all this is happening, Grady and the Horizon buddies are keeping the time machine open. Scraps witnesses Stone’s interference during Peter’s demonstration that caused Alpha’s superhero origin back in #692 and photographs it for evidence. Max Modell is released on bail, and seeing Peter’s total unwillingness to assist with the hostile takeover, tells him not to come back. When Scraps returns to 2013, he brings with him both chronoton energy and alpha energy. 2099 arrives after being informed by his AI Lyla that Tiberius Stone causes the destruction of Horizon Labs on November 9th, 2013. Everyone arrives at the time machine just as the temporal event begins to countdown with less than 16 minutes left…

MY THOUGHTS: I’m unsure how I feel about this issue. It has its good points and not-so-good points, but overall while I think I liked it, the storytelling doesn’t seem very focused. This story deals with characters from two different timelines, and the quick cutting between them and a third and fourth party keeps the narrative from leaving much of an impact. So much is going on that you’re interested in seeing where certain things are going, but the weight of it all is lessened. The storytelling is so frenetic that it’s hard to get a bead on all of the chess pieces being moved around, much less care about them. Ultimately I think I enjoyed this, but it has its problems to be sure.

The best part in all of this chaos, thankfully, is Spider-Man 2099. He drives the action and shows more intelligence than the rest of the characters. His father and grandfather are abject tools, so the thought crosses his mind that maybe letting Spider-Man waste Stone is actually a good thing. He doesn’t decide on it, but it’s enough of an independent thought that I appreciated the character’s consideration, especially when things are so high pressured back in his own time. I don’t get the impression that Miguel O’Hara is anywhere near as smart as Peter Parker, but as a super hero he comes with enough common sense to use his brain even when the plot doesn’t demand him to. It’s a nice thing to see.

SUPSM2013018_int_LR_00002  Conversely, Ock-Spidey is really getting on my nerves. For all of his blustering about his superior intelligence, all he does in this story is run around hitting people for zero reasons. The moment that 2099 hints that he’s an ally of the Parker-Spidey, Ock had a perfect opportunity to use and manipulate him to further his goals. It wouldn’t have worked out, but Ock doesn’t know why O’Hara’s there. Instead, Ock just hauls off and socks 2099 for no real reason. All that does is incriminate himself even further and give him another enemy. What exactly is he thinking? So Tiberius Stone games the system to get Liz to own Horizon Labs. Does he really think killing him publically  will set things straight in the quickest and consequence-free fashion?

It makes me want to give up on this title (again). Ock does things as Spider-Man so nakedly out of character, in public, all of the time, and he’s barely ever called on it. Either write the character in a way that doesn’t lead to incredulity over his actions or write the supporting characters responding to it. Slott cannot have it both ways, no matter how hard he wants to try.

I said the storytelling in this issue was too frenetic, and that presents itself best in the second half after the Spidey battle in the street. Peterpus switches his concentration towards getting his crap out of Horizon (illegally), Scraps and friends mess with the time machine, 2099 is running with Ty Stone, and we’re given brief scenes of Mary Jane and the Green Goblin masquerading as the Hobgoblin for a really dumb reason. The scenes eventually converge by the end, but throughout the issue they go back and forth so fast that I found it jarring. The Goblin scene wasn’t funny enough to be anything other than ridiculous, and the Mary Jane panel just served to reiterate how much of a joke her character’s become. Two issues ago I praised how Slott kept the focus on the main action inside of the Daily Bugle, and even when we cut to different characters they all were preoccupied on what was going on with Spidey and Urich. This issue is the polar opposite, with Slott throwing everything into the comic and damning its focus. It’s almost as though there’s an unspoken quota to have an ineffectual Goblin scene in every issue, as those these were Treehouse of Horror episodes and the Goblins were Kang and Kodos.

It’s not all Slott’s fault though, as I actually put more of the blame on Ryan Stegman. He’s a very solid artist, but as a storyteller I think he has some growing to do. I’ve mentioned before my distaste for the thick, white gutters in between the panels, but the panels themselves in the second half all have the camera pulled far back. When they’re closed up on the characters, nothing of importance is being shown (save for Grady taking pictures). Peter getting fired has the camera almost out of focus, it’s held so far back. I don’t understand how that could have happened. Perhaps Slott and Stegman are doing this complete Marvel Method, to the point where Slott has to compensate for Stegman’s pencils. Even still there has to be a better compromise than to leave the scenes how they are now.

SUPSM2013018_int_LR_00003The artwork itself is mostly good though. 2099 looks fantastic, with Stegman added a nice fabric differentiation between the red and the blue. His mask looks great, with the blue totally kept in the light and no heavy inking which was the norm back in the day. It makes the whole suit pop, reminding the reader that this is a full mask with no distinct eye pieces or anything obvious. Other times however, the art lets itself down with the women characters. Liz looks inconsistent with disappearing lipstick, and the panel with Mary Jane is plain awful. She looks bored and sleepy while yelling into the phone.

Ultimately, Spider-Man 2099 keeps this issue’s grade positive. Most everything else I didn’t like, but the plot was moved forward in an interesting, if unfocused way.

B-

 

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(15) Comments

  1. shadow

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  2. hornacek

    I wonder how will we look back at the Superior run in 5-10 years? "Hey, remember back in 2012 when Marvel killed off Peter and replaced him with Doc Ock? Yeah that was a __________ run?" (fill in the blank) Will we look back on it fondly, like the Roger Stern Amazing run or Peter David Spectacular run? Will we see it as a collection of good and bad stories, and some controversial moments, like the Clone Saga? Or will we say "the less said about that era the better", like the Mackie/Byrne reboot?

  3. bossmanham

    Who'd have thunk 10 years ago that the idiots at marvel would have made this comic about Doctor Octopus. SMH.

  4. Jack Brooks

    I agree with #11 -- I don't think Slott is trying to get us to like or root for Otto, even though he thinks he's Spider-Man's most interesting villain. However, Otto is becoming more and more monotonous, the less Peter-Parker-ized he becomes. Part of the fun of the character was Otto forced to process events with access to Peter's POV. Yost did a little more of this, as when Otto begins to see during the fight with Electro that Thor wasn't just some big stupid thug from the ancient past. The more thoroughly Otto Otto becomes, the less interesting he is, because he really is just a cold, angry, selfish, violent man.

  5. Tom Winstone

    @7 I never felt the purpose of the series was to get us to love Doc Ock.I always that the intention it was for us to think about who is the Superior Spider-man? Ock clearly thinks he is, but I don't think Slott or the readers are meant to be under that impression. For everything Ock does well (improve Peter's tech) he also does something unheroic (ignored people in trouble for his own ends). In this arc Slott is beginning to move the story into a sort of act 2. Act 1 was Ock thinking he was superior, I think in act 2 the shine of his new life will start to wear off as his mistakes begin to catch up with him, then in act 3 the true superior spider-men will return.

  6. hornacek

    @9 - That's crazy talk! Enough with your SCIENCE. Ah, Radio Shack. I had so many battery-a-month cards. I ran around to all the Shacks at the start of every month - I didn't have to buy a battery for years.

  7. stillanerd

    You know, it just occurred to me that there was much, much easier, safer, and cheaper way for Grady to get incriminating evidence against Tiberius Stone instead of going in back in time to take a picture of him and thus potentially risking Horizon Lab's destruction via a temporal event. See, there's this little invention called the video camera which can be installed in key locations to act as a security surveillance system, which then records everything that happens for anyone to back and review on a monitor. But I guess this collection of super-geniuses that are part of a company that specialize in scientific and technological breakthroughs never actually heard of this invention as they apparently never installed a basic surveillance system they could've purchased at their local RadioShack. :-P

  8. spiderfreak

    Is Dan Slott purposely trying to sabotage Doc Ock now? The man that he wants everyone to love, bc honestly this is just making me hate the man more and more and pretty much just throwing away everything. But then again this actually warms my heart a bit bc now this is one of those moments you could rub it in Ock's face and go "See, not so easy now is it? Where's that 'Superior' knowledge you keep bragging about?"

  9. CrazyChris

    "It’s almost as though there’s an unspoken quota to have an ineffectual Goblin scene in every issue, as those these were Treehouse of Horror episodes and the Goblins were Kang and Kodos." I was going to write the same reference about the same point in one of my reviews. You beat me too it!

  10. Symbiotic

    Agree on almost all fronts. I love Spidey 2099 and couldn't stay away for that reason. These are the first two Superior issues I have purchased, although I have read quite a few just to keep up with the story. I'm sure Slott does a lot of the things he does on purpose, having read his work though, I don't believe he is as clever as he thinks he is. It's frustrating to watch everyone ignore the sudden change in language and mannerisms without giving it a second thought, but it is even more frustrating that Ock doesn't even seem to be trying to hide the fact that he isn't Peter. Slott also constantly teases people with possible ways for someone to discover the secret (Maybe Grady will use the time portal to investigate why Peter has been acting so strange.... oops the time door is going to be destroyed just before he gets the chance). I've said before, Slott is most effective when he can write a story that is fun enough you don't care about all of the plot holes and inconsistencies. While I have enjoyed seeing 2099, his last appearance will likely be the last issue of superior I buy.

  11. Avenging Webhead

    So against my better judgement I went out and bought the last two books for the sake of Spidey 2099. For what has felt like an eternity the spirit of Spiderman almost felt right while reading the witty retorts. Finally someone refused to take the stupid pills that Slott's been cramming down our beloved character cast's throats. Spidey 2099 was truly the only good thing about this book. I do believe I'll go back to reading my old issues of my favorite webslinger until they finally clean up this mess. Great review! Keep up the good work.

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