Superior Spider-Man #18 Review (A Chris Production)


ssm18Party like it’s 2099! 2099 bottles of beer on the wall! 2099 Luftballoons! Here’s my take on The Superior Spider-Man #18! LEAVE A COMMENT!

THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #18
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Ryan Stegman
INKER: Livesay
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos

 

PLOT POINTS:

      • Spider-Man 2099 battles SpOck for the physical wellbeing of 2099’s ancestor, Tiberius Stone. The fight ends when Tiberius activates his spider-sense jamming device, causing SpOck to collapse.
      • A call from Anna Maria reminds SpOck that he’s stored the materials for his doctoral thesis in Horizon Labs, and he might lose them due to Liz Allan’s acquisition. SpOck makes saving his gear a priority, and he disregards a call from his minions regarding something Goblin-related, and he also hangs up on Mary Jane.
      • Grady Scraps travels back in time to take photos of Tiberius Stone sabotaging the experiment that created Alpha.
      • Spider-Man 2099 receives info from the future that a catastrophe at Horizon Labs will occur that day. The issue ends with time sparkles and shiny energy flying everywhere. Horizon’s about to blow! SpOck punches Spidey 2099!
Mary Jane: still oblivious.

Mary Jane: still oblivious to Peter’s douchification.

OPINIONS!

The first time I read this issue, I honestly could not find fault with it. It had awesome Stegman art, it had great Miguel O’Hara scenes, and it culminated with an intense cliffhanger.

After reading the fantastic review by Donovan Morgan Grant (available HERE), though, I have to admit that Superior Spider-Man #18 isn’t perfect. Don has a great point about SpOck, and how “all he does in this story is run around hitting people for zero reasons.” Now, I do like my Octo-Spidey unhinged and excessively violent–for example, the more time passes, the more Otto’s beating of Jester and Screwball stands out in my memory as a highlight of Slott’s run. But another aspect of SpOtto’s characterization, one this series has emphasized and overemphasized, is that he always has a plan and that he is ever prepared for every contingency. Thus, I must ask, what is his plan in attacking Tiberius Stone? (In fact, the comic makes it look like SpOck intends to kill Tiberius.) Harming Stone does not stop Liz Allan from acquiring Horizon Labs and gaining the legal rights to SpOck’s inventions, which is apparently what has Otto so panicked. Actually, if Spider-Man publicly injured Stone, it would probably be counterproductive. Remember, the public knows that Horizon supplies Spider-Man with technology. It would provide more fodder for the prosecution of Max Modell (and would therefore further facilitate Liz’s takeover) if the old management’s most famous customer visibly attacked a member of the new management on the day of the takeover. Also, SpOck charging into Horizon and punching Spidey 2099 when there’s clearly a disaster happening doesn’t make much sense, particularly because Otto is supposed to be the story’s most scientifically intelligent character and should at least recognize that something’s amiss. So while SpOck can go crazy at times, this behavior strikes me as a little too crazy, without a good enough reason for it.

Otto's mindset is "punch first, ask questions about the glowing spheres of annihilation later."

Otto’s mindset is “punch first, ask questions about the glowing spheres of annihilation later.”

On the other side of that coin, however, this issue marks the first time I remember feeling like Otto is not in control of his situation. It has been a recurring criticism of Superior Spider-Man that victory always comes too easily to Otto, that his ability to think ahead of and counter every possible complication gets to be implausible and diminishes the story’s suspense. Well, you can’t make that complaint here. This issue shows everything Otto’s juggling, and his frantic efforts to prioritize some matters while pushing other problems aside. Don called this issue’s tendency to jump from one subplot to another unfocused storytelling, but I call it a great presentation of the chaos that Otto’s life is slipping into.

It feels like the whole artifice Otto has built will soon come crashing down, at the same time Horizon Labs is about to literally explode. The action and the thematic content reinforce each other.

And if that doesn’t make up for Otto acting too off-kilter, then surely it helps that this story gives readers a whole other Spider-Man to root for. I particularly like the internal conflict within Spidey 2099 this chapter sets up. Miguel considers that it might serve the greater good if he let Tiberius die. That would erase Miguel himself from existence, but it would also prevent the formation of Alchemax and the dark future of 2099 from becoming a reality. It’s a fascinating twist on an old trope of time travel fiction.

Over the past few months, Superior Spider-Man has delivered one quality issue after another. The series’ most fundamental problem–that the characters who are in a position to expose Otto are either too stupid or are working too slowly to do so–still exists, but the stories are now strong enough for me to willfully ignore that. I now look forward to each installment of Superior more so than the other titles in the Spider-Man line.


B+

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(12) Comments

  1. DadaHyena

    Bet Otto still wishes he had extra arms to help juggle all of these problems! I like your prediction on how his how charade is going to come crashing down; I, too, have been enjoying 'Superior' but am also looking forward to its grand finale, if only because it looks like it will be one hell of an ending.

  2. hornacek

    Hey, the series has come back from Chapter One and the John Mackie reboot, it can come back from this. Personally, if they did a soft reboot where they just ignored the SpOck era and just started writing stores with Peter back as Spidey, I wouldn't even complain with "they're ignoring established continuity!" Just bring him back. With a new writer. Because while I think Slott can be a really good writer, I no longer trust him with the character.

  3. Spec Spider Fan

    Just making me sadder. I don't know if the series can come back from this (Spock storyline), but as the sales are reasonable to good, my opinion is not important. :(

  4. crazychris

    5 - the time machine turns Grady into a "ghost" that can observe and take pictures of the past, but he can't affect anything. I believe this is a safegaurd against altering time.

  5. hornacek

    @6 - Yeah that seems like a pretty big hurdle to ignore (mixing my metaphors here). Reminds me of an article I read today of people on tv shows who should have been fired from their fictional jobs long ago. One of the entries was the entire police force on Dexter for failing to notice for 8 years that their co-worker was a serial killer. The Spidey supporting cast that have known Peter for years and still can figure it out have reached that level of incompetence ("NOT NOW, WOMAN!").

  6. Donovan Grant

    ". The series’ most fundamental problem–that the characters who are in a position to expose Otto are either too stupid or are working too slowly to do so–still exists, but the stories are now strong enough for me to willfully ignore that." Ohhhh, I wish I could say the same thing. But I can't, I-I just...can't!

  7. hornacek

    "Grady Scraps travels back in time to take photos of Tiberius Stone sabotaging the experiment that created Alpha." Do any of the Horizon characters even discuss using the time machine to stop Stone in the in past? I can understand the whole "we can't change the past because it will affect the future argument" but I would think that if a group of scientists has access to a time machine at least one of them would say suggest it as a possible hypothesis? Also this issue loses some points for reminding me that Alpha story exists. MJ's phone in that screengrab is ugly. "And now my spider-sense is unreliable!" Just reading that makes me feel sad. *My* spider-sense. Sigh. Come back soon Pete, I want to buy your comics again. "SpOtto". Nice. Reminds me of Spocko from A Piece of the Action.

  8. Jack

    Otto's behavior would make sense, if the intention was to show that he locks up in situations that demand creativity and adaptability, and so is acting out his fear. I.e., Ock is a genius but psychologically he is very rigid. Perhaps he is somewhere on the Asperger's spectrum. As long as the game is chess, he excels, but if the game turns into chess crossed with pinball and Ultimate Frisbee, he can't cope and lashes out. Peter is the superior Spider-Man because he was always more adaptive, and a lot of times Peter knew how to turn lemons into lemonade right there on the spot. Peter is also the superior Spider-Man because his kind, ethical treatment of other people, and self-restraint, earned him good-will from others. Even some of his villains grudge-respected Peter. But they *all* hate this Otto version and want to rip him to pieces.

  9. Tim

    Good review Chris. I guess I had less problem with Ock lashing out because of the way things are falling apart quickly around him. Where Don found the story unfocused, like you I found that it heightened the sense of SpOck not able to control things around him, and I believe his natural reaction to that is to lash out. As far as the supporting cast and their unwillingness to see through SpOck's disguise, I have resigned myself to believing that their first response would be to give him the benefit of the doubt, believing the best in "Peter", whether thinking he was burning the candle at both ends and it was affecting him, or whatever reason. Now that it is farther along in the story, we should start to see more indications of suspicion. If it happened too fast, there would have been complaints of how unrealistic it was that his disguise was seen through. I have no problem with the pacing of the suspicion, as long as something happens. Regardless, good review Chris, love reading them.

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