THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #19
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Ryan Stegman
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
- To solve the Horizon Labs “timeplosion,” Otto furiously digs through Peter’s few remaining memories, and a familiar silhouette unburies himself from the rubble.
- Spider-Man 2099 threatens to let Tiberius Stone die, but Miguel ultimately cannot commit an act that could eradicate his native timeline.
- Otto only manages to mitigate the timeplosion into a controlled implosion that destroys Horizon Labs and obliterates Otto. Max Modell sciences Otto back to life.
- Mayor Jameson will pull strings to drop the federal charges against Modell in exchange for Modell never sciencing in New York again. Modell and some of the Horizon staff depart on Modell’s boat. However, Otto tells Sajani he has a proposition for her.
- Mary Jane calls Peterpus to say she’s “moving on” due to Peter’s personality change.
- Liz Allan forms Alchemax by merging Allan Chemical (her father’s company) with Normie’s share of Oscorp and the acquisitions from Horizon Labs.
- Tyler Stone strands Spider-Man 2099 in 2013. Miguel poses as Tiberius’s personal assistant at present-day Alchemax.
- Carlie Cooper and the Wraith find evidence that Spider-Man is using Otto’s bank account.
For anyone who thought Superior Spider-Man’s plot has moved too slowly lately, here you go. Issue #19 packs in enough major developments to fill three or four normal comics, and it ends the current three-parter with a literal bang. All-in-all, #19 is a knock-out comic book, and one of the best issues of Dan Slott’s Spider-Man run. Of course, Dan Slott still wrote the thing, so silly moments abound. Thus, I hereby introduce my new segment: “Awesome Thing/Silly Thing.”
AWESOME THING: Ryan Stegman’s two-page spread implying the return of Peter Parker constitutes a masterpiece of storytelling. The Superior Spider-Man clutches his head, rifling through his memories, with a detailed spider’s web hanging behind him. In the “windows” between the web strands, Stegman inserted images of classic scenes from Spider-Man history–in their original art styles!–with Otto’s head drawn onto Peter’s body. The bottom row of panels show Peter’s silhouette digging himself out of the metaphorical rubble that crushed him after his mental battle with Otto in issue #9. The silhouette’s poses match the various body movements of Spider-Man in the memories depicted above, as if Otto’s invoking Peter’s defining struggles is animating Peter to hoist himself back from the brink. Stegman innovatively employs this striking layout and mix of art styles to relate a crucial story development without explicitly spelling out what’s happening. You know that finger-kissing gesture people do to say food tastes good? I’m doing that with my eyes right now.
SILLY THING: Once Otto awakens from his memory trance, Modell comments that Spider-Man had spaced out for eight full minutes. The concept that Spider-Man stood silently in a room full of people grabbing his head for eight minutes is hilarious. Count to 480 to grasp how long that is.
AWESOME THING: This issue served as more than the conclusion of the three-part 2099 story–it also drew to a close Peter’s job at Horizon Labs, a status quo that has lasted for approximately seventy issues. And what better way to turn a new page than by blowing the whole place up? To compounded the excitement, Otto finally could not come up with a perfect solution and actually questioned whether he was inferior to Peter Parker. After #19 issues, Slott apparently got the hint that Otto needs to face challenges that are just that–challenging–to maintain our interest in his adventures. Otto’s recruiting of Sajani also intrigues. Is he starting his own company?
SILLY THING: The device (the “plot device,” if you will) Modell used to reconstitute Spider-Man came from nowhere. The Horizon Labs staff sailing off into the moonlight played cheesily. Dan Slott forgot that Modell named his boat the Zenith, not the Zephyr.
AWESOME THING: I find Miguel O’Hara remaining in the present a much more interesting development than returning him to 2099 limbo. The writers might actually develop Miguel’s character and show how he reacts to the contemporary Marvel Universe over the long term. Slott adorably weaved this story into the origin of Alchemax, and simultaneously created a role for Liz and Normie in the current status quo.
SILLY THING: How does Normie have “holdings” in Oscorp? He’s, like, ten years old tops. Can children own corporations in the Marvel Universe?
Additionally, this issue included two plot points that I consider positive, but are too little, too late to rightly categorize as “awesome.” First, Mary Jane finally confronts “Peter” regarding his abnormal behavior. This happened twenty issues too late, and we’re only at issue #19. Second, Carlie finally finds the “proof” of the mind swap she’s been after. Yet, it still frustrates me that she has sat on the information she already knew, even though letting Ock run free puts the lives of her supposed friends at risk. Dan Slott’s contrived, drawn-out pacing of Carlie’s storyline only emphasizes the Superior saga’s greatest flaw: that Otto’s continued eluding of detection relies on the irrationality of many other characters.
The hardest part of grading each issue of Superior Spider-Man is deciding what weight to give the logical lapses at the ongoing story’s core, when the individual issues are often quite good. This issue is more than “quite good,” though–it is outstanding. Accordingly, I’m erring on the side of positivity.