The Superior Spider-Man #20 Review (by DMG)


3409574-20b  Blurred Lines” is the name of the game when Felicia comes across Otto and gets the full “Superior Spider-Man” experience! PLUS! Watanabe grows bored of Carlie’s stalling and leaves, Mario comments on Mary Jane’s looks, and Professor Lamaze has his final revenge! All this and the return of the Clone Saga! Er…villain from the Clone Saga!  Written by Slott

Illustrated by Camuncoli

Inked by Dell

Colored by Fabela

Lettered by Eliopoulos

THE PLOT: There’s not much in the way of a plot, really. Otto runs into the Black Cat and instead of kissing her he kicks her down and ties her up for the police. Felicia acts like this is a bad thing which, admittedly for her, it is. Otto then goes on a dinner date with Anna Maria and reveals his intentions to start up Parker Industries.

LONG STORY SHORT: While presenting his thesis, Peterpus gets called out by Doctor Nose that his presentation is ripped off from Otto Octavius’ work. SpOck swears revenge. Meanwhile Angelina Brancale a.k.a. the Stunner has awoken from her coma (brought upon when she helped the Hand in resurrecting Otto from his death by Kaine back in the Clone Saga) and after learning that Otto ruined all of her hard work by getting himself killed again swears vengeance on the Spider-Man. Specifically the Superior version.

MY THOUGHTS: When I first read this issue I was ready and willing to give it an “A”. Compared to most other Superior scripts, I felt that Slott had juggled the balls of plot in a way that was both intriguing  and upped the ante which made for a really engaging comic. Developments were made in which I wasn’t expecting, characters were moving forward in their respective plots, and a new wrinkle has been added in the aftermath to Amazing #700. I thought this was a very strong issue and, despite a few niggles here and there, didn’t think anything glaring was keeping it from earning its full grade.

superiorspider-man020e8cnoOf course Chris and Ryan had to ruin my fun by being so good at what they do, that they really forced me to take a second look. In doing so I’d discovered some stronger negative qualities that hurt Superior issue #20 more so than I had realized. This is still in my opinion one of Slott’s better issues in terms of pacing and progression. The “Slott-isms” are still there but by this point I have been beaten over the head with them so often that I’ve practically given up caring. However certain logical fallacies weigh this issue down just enough to keep the string of “B” grades consistent (Spoilers).

This issue was apparently hyped up to the nth degree, as with most Superior issues. I use the term “apparently” because in all honesty I wasn’t paying much attention to the buzz, so when the cloud of disappointment began to circulate, I couldn’t go along with it as I didn’t feel the same. The one thing everyone can agree  on is that Felicia/Black Cat was hyped with a seductive cover and all, only for her to be dropped by Ock in two pages. I can see people’s consternation with that, but in the business of reading comics there has been an unfortunate trend of misleading covers that draw the reader in before pulling a bait a switch. Admittedly I was expecting this issue to be Felicia-heavy, but the fact that it wasn’t didn’t bother me. I am interested in what Brad thinks of it though…

Felicia’s one scene in question is certainly worth discussion. The crux of it is meant to say “THIS ISN’T YOUR DADDY’S SPIDER-MAN!” He actually hits BC as opposed to “hitting it”, proverbially speaking. This all goes on the basis of Spider-Man and Black Cat’s recent habit of having Felicia get away with committing crimes as long as she sexes her way out of Spidey arresting her. It’s a status quo unnaturally jammed into the comics in such a way that always bothers me, as it reneges on Felicia’s development as a character for the sole reason to have a “bad girl” type character in Spider-Man. It echoes the romance that the two shared in the 70s and 80s, but lacks total sense. In the Roger Stern run, Spidey was head over heels in love with Felicia yet would not hesitate for an instant to have her arrested when she tried sneaking crimes behind his back. Here, they’re actively in a situation where he agrees to let her get away if she sleeps with him. It’s incredibly sleazy, disingenuous, and speaks of a certain mindset when it comes to the ideas of characters like Felicia Hardy. 

But this isn’t exactly Dan Slott’s fault. This is how things have stood for the past few years ever since she’s been reintroduced without the knowledge of Spider-Man’s identity. So Slott is using that condition to fuel the tension when Ock, who brings up his own violent past with Felicia, violently beats her down  and leaves her for the cops. The thing is that if Felicia still knew Peter’s identity, there’s no way she’d buy that there wasn’t anything wrong with him. Because that’s been stripped from her, I don’t find it hard to believe that she would be thinking about “getting her own back” more than she might think about Spidey’s change in personality. I still think it’s more convenient for Slott’s story than it is completely natural, but in this instance, I’ll roll with it.

One last comment about Black Cat’s scene. The fact that SpOck punches her so hard that a tooth falls out isn’t something I find potentially misogynist because A) He’s done something similar before to Screwball, and B) he sees all villains as equal more or less. The tooth loss was for Felicia to realize how different Spider-Man is acting, and because the plot needs her to not notice that, she doesn’t. However I like the fact that Slott put as minimum attention on Felicia getting beaten up as he could, given that she’s getting worked on by a super powered being. I have more unease at the gleeful comments towards the punch since the issue’s come out than I have with the punch itself, but admittedly I’m sensitive towards those kinds of attitudes.

3413679-superior+spider-man+020-014  Staying with the FEMALES of this issue, I initially had nothing bad to comment on the one Carlie scene. After all of her procrastinating, she’s finally resolved to telling people about what she’s learned about Peter. But looking at that scene again, the way in which Carlie’s story is being told is still bothersome. For starters, Yuri Watanabe is fidgeting anxiously as though she has something better to do. She’s helped the only other person in the world find conclusive evidence that Spider-Man is really a master criminal in disguise, and she basically says “Can I GO ALREADY?” Doesn’t she have any interest to see how this plays out? She knew Spidey, wouldn’t she want to see his killer brought to justice? I don’t get why Slott wrote her that way. Her being out of the spotlight doesn’t amount to anything when the stakes are this high. That was grating to read. Further still, Carlie’s message she leaves on MJ’s phone reads thus:

“MJ? You there? Pick up. It’s Carlie. This is important! When you get this, call me okay? Until then, whatever you do, for your own sake…STAY AWAY from Peter Parker. And keep May and the others away too. I’ll explain later. Gotta go. Just promise me, wherever you are, you’ll play it safe.”

 What the hell was that?

I’ll explain later” should only be in reference to how Ock switch brains with Peter, not why she should stay away from Peter. This was about as descriptive as when in the 90s show Peter telling MJ “Brock’s a weirdo, okay?” It’s nowhere near exuding the level of danger they’re all in when they’re near him. Slott’s holding Carlie back, and I understand why. But it’s not understandable when we see her not doing everything she can to get across how messed up their predicament is.

On the other hand, Mary Jane’s scene is one that I enjoyed without feeling that Slott betrayed the nature of the character or their intended goals. Now that she thinks she’s freed herself from Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man, she goes after the next best thing: Pedro Olivera a.k.a. Firefighter-Man. Their names both start with “P” and they save people. It’ll be just like Peter!

Bertone and I discussed the merits of having MJ’s one scene in the book be her going after a man, and I think it fits the character well. MJ has always gone after who and what she wants, and she aims to do it in style. Even the use of the famous “Jackpot” phrase shouldn’t really be exclusive to just Peter when you think about it. This woman was the player of the 60s, she’s had to gone out on dozens if not hundreds of dates in an attempt to fashion herself to be the confident, carefree party girl that she became in order to forget her crappy home life. There may be a contingent on fans who loathe the idea of MJ with any guy other than Peter Parker, but like the Black Cat scene, I buy her actions based on her personal circumstances.

superiorspider-man020obffxConversely, the thesis scene with Lamaze I found hard to buy one the first read. I still don’t fully buy it now. It’s a good scene, but two things occur to me. The first is that Lamaze labels Otto as his “good friend” and “dear colleague”. This is the same guy who tried to fry the entire planet in the recent past. Is that really someone who anyone may’ve known would label as a “dear friend”? Secondly and more to the point, wouldn’t this little snag in creator credit be something that Ock would have thought about beforehand? It’s hard for me to buy that Ock thought he could pose as Peter Parker and present the exact same metal appendage applications that he used during his original lifetime. He tried to go legit with them during the JMS run. Heck, in his very first appearance it’s mentioned that he created the tentacles and is the only one permitted to use them. This comes off as a severe lack in foresight that seems incredibly obvious to me.

On the other hand I can almost buy it, as Slott’s been laying the seeds for Ock’s hubris and ego to do him in as of late. Even still, he really didn’t think the scientific community would have read about his theories before now?

Despite its nonsense, this is still a good issue. The art by Camuncoli is blessed with John Dell’s inks as opposed to Klaus Janson’s, and especially Antonio Fabela’s wonderful colors as opposed to Edgar Delgado’s. Edgar Delgado is someone who I think works well with Humberto Ramos but few other Spidey pencillers. His warm, earth-tone colors all but killed JRJR’s post-JMS Spidey artwork for me, and deadens a lot of Camuncoli’s work as well. Fabela made the night scenes with Black Cat and Anna Maria look gorgeous. He needs to stay on this title forever. Overall I’m engaged as ever on where this story is going. Stunner’s not a character I’m necessarily invested in, but most of the subplots are all given proper due, and the future of Ock is more and more in question. Speaking of future, I didn’t mention Madame Web’s proclamation that “ALL THE SPIDERS WILL DIE!” because she pretty much always says that.


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(26) Comments

  1. Al

    Yeah no. Yes. IF MJ who had moved on from Peter believed herself to have freed herself from him and couldn’t see the obvious, she’d do this. But that’s a lot of ifs. We’ve seen that MJ had changed and moved on from the party girl type of person she was in the silver age. We know that in the wake of a break up with peter, as witnessed in JMS’ run, she in fact didn’t simply throw herself out there to make herself feel better. It’s not just that I don’t like it, I outright don’t buy it. More than this it’s entirely built upon the idea that we’ve gotten to a point where MJ’s relationship with peter falling apart doesn’t matter as much to her as it should’ve would’ve done. But we only GOT to that via contrivances. Which makes her reaction here a contrivance. This is to say nothing of how it is a contrivance that she meets up with this fireman she met for five minutes. Makes her kinda desperate. And of course, it absolutely positively doesn’t add up since it’s built upon the innate contirvence of her STILL not realizing Peter is clearly not himself. When something only exists because it's built upon bullshit, it is in and of itself invalid.

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  3. Big Al

    @#20-I second all of that. I mean what is worse is that it wasn't even a proper memory wipe. It's like they remember SOMEONE unmasked as Spider-Man but don't remember who. But only the stuff surrounding his identity was covered up. So why can't someone easily figure out who he was from the gap he left? Like Jonah has an article about how Peter is fired but the words Spider-Man is removed. a SHIELD agent remembers he was gonna arrest MJ unless she turns in her husband Peter Parker but he doesn't remember why. Norman friggin remembers kidnapping Gwen Stacy to get to Spider-Man BUT CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHY!

  4. Enigma_2099

    Was there a scene in this book of "Peter" digging himself out of the rubble? If so, there something that kinda bothers me. I'll wait 'til I have confirmation before sharing what I suspect.

  5. Xellos

    @#19 - eh, it's not just Slott here. It's the whole OMD secret identity wipe thing. If they had just erased the memory of people who discovered during Civil War, it might actually be less confusing. Instead it erases all character development when people like Black Cat, Green Goblin, and Venom don't remember who Spider-Man. If BC had known, it'd be more than just "man, Spider's being a real douche today!"

  6. Enigma_2099

    @#18 Felicia has been broken for a while, I'm afraid. But yeah. It's a standard requirement for a Slott story. Pre existing characters have to act out of character or idiotic in order for it to work.

  7. Big Al

    @#15-This isn't me being a fanboy but it's just a genuinely good example that comes to mind but Spider-Girl was actually very tactful with this kind of stuff. More than once you'd see her seriously beaten up and stuff but it was never like something you thought about more than if it was Spider-MAN in her position, even when she fought guys above her weight class. And ironically there was like multiple issues about domestic violence against women in that series (it got a bit grim at times)

  8. Enigma_2099

    @#13 Needlessly hitting HELPLESS, DEFENSELESS women. There's a difference. If every female superhero hides behind the "I'm a woman" defense, superheroine books will get boring fast. Let her take a punch, but remember... she can give as good as she gets!

  9. Big Al

    @#13-I think it depends upon which bad guy we're talking about. I don't think Ock hates women or anything, he has been shown to be an outright gentlemen but when they directly screw over his plans in someway (as Felicia did) then I can see him going ape shit, just as he'd go on anyone else, male or female. Venom just doesn't care although he'd say he would never do that when it suits him because he's a hypocrite. Norman Osborn would actively seek to do that because he's done it in the past

  10. hornacek

    @12 - I don't want to see men needlessly hitting women in comics, but it's completely in character for Venom or Ock to beat up a woman that they saw as an enemy. They ARE bad guys.

  11. Big Al

    @#6-Thank you. Again it's a matter of how far you take it. Even though the scene where Venom bea up Felicia back in the 80s was in character and realistic it was a bit too far. You can show injuries but there is a line between where normal battle scars end and brutalization begins

  12. Enigma_2099

    Lemme bring up one more thing. MJ. We're now privileged to watch HER go after other guys instead of the one she really wants to be with. Same as Peter. When did this turn into Liberty f*****' Meadows?!?!? Frank Cho's already rubbing me the wrong way with THAT one... Sorry, old rant. But I had to get it out.

  13. Enigma_2099

    @#5 Look, if he had taken her down without laying a finger on her, I would be just as happy. He could have simply just did the web her up so she can't escape thing. That would have been fine. I still would have gotten what I wanted, which is for someone not letting Felicia get away with just committing a crime. Again, I did not beg Slott to have SpOck knock the taste out of her mouth. You're right about that second point. Domestic violence is bad. I never said it wasn't. But you gotta understand something... I do NOT like Black Cat. I don't want her "snuffed" obviously... and why the hell are people into that sort of thing? And again, you make an excellent point. The super hero business is not always a pleasant one. And bringing in female heroes and Villain just to have them model spandex for the male viewers in the book gets old. And let's be honest. There are plenty of female characters that can kick just as much a** as the best of them. Thank you, Power Girl/She-Hulk.

  14. Big Al

    @#5-Obviously I do not approve of domestic violence at all but I kind of have to agree in principle although I don't like seeing a character I like get beaten to a pulp obviously. That being said I've always been in two minds about violence with female super heroes or villains. I mean it's an inherently dangerous business so they can't NOT get hurt all the time if fights break out. I suppose it's a matter of execution.

  15. Enigma_2099

    "I have more unease at the gleeful comments towards the punch since the issue’s come out than I have with the punch itself, but that’s because I’m sensitive towards those kinds of attitudes." Seeing as how I'm the only one that's voiced my positive opinion of the scene, I'm gonna assume that this refers to me. So I shall now proceed to explain my opinion. I am glad that Otto didn't just let Felicia "flirt" her way out of being apprehended. This has been a LONG existing problem I have had with characters like her. You even say so in your review. I don't care how it happens, I'm just glad it happened. I don't care that he hit her, I didn't ask Slott to knock out her tooth! I just don't feel sorry for her! That's how frustrated I am with the character. I'm not pro-domestic violence, I'm pro "stop letting this ***** get away with **** because she lets you play with her boobs!"

  16. Big Al

    Not gonna lie I’m in that contingent when it comes to MJ. But more than this, the thing is I do not think she does want this guy. He’s too much like Peter and obviously just the rebound. And it’s a little out of the blue, like when did she decide this random fireman was who she wanted to go out with? She didn’t until she broke up with Peter of course Plus again her doing this only works if she can’t see that Peter has gone off the rails ergo, would probably need help and of course can’t see it’s not Peter. When it’s built upon shaky foundations like that I can’t buy this. It’s like yeah she’d do that but since it’s precipitated upon events which didn’t make sense by extension this doesn’t either.

  17. hornacek

    "I am interested in what Brad thinks of it though…" Since it's about the Black Cat, I predict he will say "You're f@cking wrong!"

  18. CRM

    After reading this a second time, I noticed that Slott very intentionally never refers to the coma patient in the begining as "he" or "she" it is always "they". I'm not sure there is really any reason to do this, as I don't think anyone would instantly come to the conclusion tha it is Stunner if they had refered to the patient as she. Slott had promissed there were things that people might not notice in this issue, perhaps the coma patient in the begining was not Stunner as we are led to believe? Maybe it's Peter awaking in someone else's body? Or maybe I'm looking too deep into this.

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