Superior Spider-Man #24 Review (by the Superior Donovan)

SUPSM2013024-DC11-LR-bf368  Bonded with the Venom symbiote, SpOctopus becomes the Superior Venom-Pus! But his exploits as New York’s new Lethal Protector aren’t nearly as interesting as the effect the new, darker Peterpus has on Aunt May and Mary Jane! 

Written by the Superior Slott and Christos Gage

Penciled by the much maligned Humberto Ramos

 Inked by Victor Olazaba

 Colors by the Superior Team-Up of Edgar Delgado, Antonia Fabela and Veronica Gandini

 THE SUPERIOR PLOT: With Ock now the Superior Dr. Venom, he runs on a crime-fighting rampage after attacking both Cardiac and Flash. Sajani rushes in to assist and reveals that due to Flash’s dependence on the symbiote, he won’t survive the day without it. Meanwhile Carlie Cooper has proven to be too tough to crack under Menace’s torture (which we never see), so the Green Goblin says “Eff it” and douses her with Goblin formula!

 THE LONG, SUPERIOR STORY SHORT: After Anna Maria weeps to Dark Peterpus about what went down at dinner in the last issue, Black Suit SpOck goes directly to May and Jay’s and RIPS into her (figuratively speaking). Mary Jane arrives and keeps me from dropping the book by finally confronting “Peter” on his weird behavior. Evil Superior Peter LOLs and transforms into Dark Black Costume Ock, threatening Mary jane to stay out of his way for she’ll be sorry. Captain Watanabe comes out of nowhere and after MJ fumbles an excuse that Spider-Man came and took Peter away, arrests her for having such a lame story. MJ uses her one phone call to ring up the Avengers to bring Symbiote Spider-Pus down, and the story ends with a blurb that it will continue in the double sized issue #25.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this.

It’s not perfect. In fact the first half annoyed me quite a bit. But the second half of this book entertained me in such a way that I’ve never felt when reading a Superior Spider-Man issue before. The scenes with Dark Peterpus yelling at everybody and threatening Mary Jane are some of the most cathartic moments in this entire run. Slott pushes aside pretense and just has Ock go buck WILD with reckless abandon as Superior Venom. He’s on top of his game in the back half of this issue, and the artwork by Ramos, Olazaba and Fabela make the scenes pop off the page. Again, this isn’t an all-time best or flawless issue. But Sweet Merciful Crap did I enjoy this!

Let’s get the negatives out of the way. Part of the reason why I groaned and rolled my eyes when Superior Venom first popped up is that there didn’t seem to be much Slott could do with that plot twist that he hadn’t already pulled with Spock before. A Dark version of our hero is the comic’s entire premise, and that this was just a gloopy sloppier version of Dark Spider-Man left little to the imagination as to what would come down the pike. This is proven with the scenes of Ock claiming he’s a “Lethal Protector” (Gawd) and beating up non-threatening, ordinary people. He wasn’t proving his might, and it wasn’t interesting to read about at all.

Even worse was the scene where Sajani tells Flash he’s got hours to live away from the Symbiote. I know Sajani’s been portrayed as nothing more than a horrible person who has contempt for everybody she works with, but the way in which she informs Flash about his dire situation is so matter-of-factly, so nonplussed that has her come off even worse. From a writing standpoint, I wonder if Slott is trying to write a supporting character that isn’t exactly evil but at the same time is legitimately an awful person. I understand that not every female character who’s a minority has to be a paragon of their ethnic and gender background, so I don’t totally loathe the character. But if someone’s going to be written this way, it’d be nice to have other characters call them on it. Flash had every right to say “What the HELL! Why didn’t you tell me this sooner? How long have you known?” Characters can be as mean as nasty as the writers want, but as long as the story acknowledges that they are that way, we don’t have to hate them more than we should.

Concerning the Goblin/Carlie scene, at first I questioned the plausibility of Carlie resisting torture by Goblin and Menace, but I understood how it had to lead into her getting drugged with the Goblin serum. That’s in interesting turn I didn’t expect. Will she mutate into another monster, or will she just gain super powers and a costume? Before that happened, I was wondering why Norman (if it is Norman, ho ho!) didn’t just use sodium pentothal. It’s what Roderick used on Ned Leeds. Honestly, I really don’t buy the lead up to Carlie getting the Goblin Formula. If they threw that at her from the start, it would make more sense. It’s in their nature to torture her, but having Carlie be so resistant to spilling her guts puts her over in a Carlie-Hammer kind of way. I’m not saying she’s weak willed, I’m saying she’s a normal person. I think Mary Jane would crack after a while as well.

superiorspider-man0240kzl2   superiorspider-man0248pyr3What followed after that however is my favorite scene from this title thus far. First off, I loved the swerve of Aunt May and Jay expecting Mary Jane and having Dark Peterpus come through the door. Ramos gives him this intense look that’s underplayed but lets you know exactly what’s on his mind. I believe that if Mary Jane hadn’t intervened, Ock may have seriously hurt May or Jay in that moment. Slott also gives a poke at May’s worried grandmother role by having Ock completely galled at the notion that she could “forbid” him from doing anything. It’s something Peter’s tolerated for years because May’s supposed to be very delicate. Otherwise, no self-respecting man would put up with such condescending nonsense for so long. May acts completely in character here, but her character is such a caricature that Ock cannot stand it. Then my prayers are finally answered with Mary Jane confronting Peter on his behavior AT LAST! HALLELUJAH! Of course this is met with the most natural of reactions when Ock straight up implies that he’ll kill her if she doesn’t back off.

This is what I love to read in comics. The nature of these super hero plots forces conflict to arise in situations where lies are regularly doled out. Sooner or later the dam will break. Granted Mary Jane at this point probably assumes that Peter’s been using the symbiote all this time, and that’s annoying. At least it’s a plausible line of logic for her to follow, as opposed to her choosing not to think about it. Some may take issue with Slott’s overt use of the 90s show and Spider-Man 3 version of the symbiote in that it affects Ock personality. He should know better, but honestly…the symbiote affecting the user’s personality was always a better story. It’s why it’s been grafted onto the mythology for almost twenty years now, because that adds more conflict. So yeah, Slott’s thrown continuity with the symbiote out the window, but I’m not blaming him in this instance.

Moving onto the art, this issue had three colorists. I can recognize Delgado’s work in the beginning, especially with Ramos on pencils as they’ve been paired up for years now. I’m not as familiar with Veronica Gandini’s coloring, but Antonio Fabela is instantly recognizable in that it’s awesome. The deep, moody yet vibrant colors that appear once Dark Peterpus meets with Anna Maria serves as a great signifier for what’s to come. I particularly like the red outline on Dark Peterpus as he holds Anna Maria, vowing to make everything right.

superiorspider-man02498yr2As for Ramos, this issue shows some of his best work to date…but not all of it.

Here’s the thing with Ramos. When he draws images of people talking or scenes of ordinary events happening, I really like him. I think there are some great shots of the Goblin, Carlie, Dark Peter and Mary Jane in this issue. Again, that panel of Dark Peter coming through the door was terrific. When the guy does action or scenes with high energy, he does tend to get a bit too loose in his renderings and the artwork can be hard to follow. The panel with Mary Jane yelling at Peter just before he transforms is not good. I understand that the guy’s inconsistent how his style is not for everyone. I don’t understand how people say he’s one of the worst Spidey artists ever, but at the same time I’ve no great love for Ross Andru, so to each his or her own. It’s a style thing more than an actual ability to draw. I think the pummeling of Ramos’ artwork in this arc has gotten over the top, but I do see where it comes from. That being said, he artwork helped make this issue shine for me.

This would get an A+ if the first half didn’t have that Sajani scene and Superior Venom weren’t so lame. The second half of this book was so good, and that last page was a great cliffhanger. Granted we’ve seen the Avengers before, but here SpOck is actively attacking people and Mary Jane is calling them in after he’s already fooled them. It carries a different weight in this instance, albeit not too much different. My opinion on this arc depends solely on the next issue and how everything is wrapped up, because there’s still a chance to fumble at the finish line. I did say in the last review that after parts 1 and 2, there wasn’t anything to look forward to for the rest of the story, so here’s hoping I’m surprised again.


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(28) Comments

  1. 94Kina

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  2. Big Al

    I'm sorry but MJ confronting Peter is too little too late. Again it was out of character for her to have not noticed/shrugged off his actions long before now, literally at issue #2 at the latest. Again, if this was a world of clones, doppelgangers, LMD and symbiotes which change you she would be at least SUSPICIOUS

  3. Jason

    Why are the above lame messages posting, but not my real one? SO FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Sbee

    @gary that phrase slottholes will now and forever stay with me and I say it is the damn cleverest thing I've read on this site no lie. This sincerely made my day.

  5. Gary

    Let's be honest everyone, the symbiote angle is going to lead to everything being just peachy for Otto after this arc is over, no one being none the wiser. Mary Jane will go back to being an idiot, Captain Watanabe will suddenly realize she hates Carlie and drop her investigation, and then Goblin Nation will come. We'll all think "this is the story where everything blows up in Otto's face."But no. Everything will be resolved for Otto very easily with no problems at all, just like every single issue of Superior Spider-man before it. Everyone hates Superman because "everything is too perfect for him, he has no problems." Well, where is the outrage from most people about Superior Spider-man? Every problem that pops up for Otto is resolved immediately, sometimes on the very next page after it pops up. At least when Peter was around, if a problem popped up, sometimes it would take a while for him to resolve it. Like when he failed to save Gwen's dad in the older issues. His relationship with Gwen was strained and she eventually left New York, with it not being resolved for quite a few issues. But with Otto as Spider-man? No problems at all. It looks like his professional life is going down the toilet? He finds a way the very next issue to resolve it by convincing an old colleague that "Peter invented all of his inventions!!" Give me a break.

  6. Gary

    And I see Carlie becoming a Goblin leading to Doc Ock killing her during Goblin Nation, finding out she had evidence against him and destroying it. Easily defeats Green Goblin and his army, and then the last 4 issues of the "Goblin Nation" arc will be SpOck convincing the Goblin's to join him, and all of the Avengers not giving a damn because they think Spider-man is acting just like he always did even though he's not.

  7. Gary

    Slott is the laziest writer in Marvel. Instead of writing a coherent story, he relies on plotholes (I call them Slottholes) and characters acting a lot dumber than they ever did before he took over to keep the story from falling apart.

  8. stillanerd

    I would agree that the notion that Mary Jane will think the reason Peter has been acting so strange was because the symbiote as another means for SpOck to have suspicion thrown off himself is likely, were it not for the following:1. Everything has been building towards "Goblin Nation" with rumor (according to Bleeding Cool) being that Superior Spider-Man #30 will be the last issue of the series. That means that things have to be wrapped up soon and make it harder for SpOck to get away with what he's been getting away with. I can see the Avengers giving him a pass again because, even though they know Agent Venom was around for far longer and thus "Spider-Man's" strange behavior is not attributable to the symbiote, they still think its due to PTSD due to Silver Sable's death.And 2. Captain Watanabee, who knows that Doc Ock is impersonating Spider-Man thanks to having teamed up with Carlie, has MJ in police custody. If she's any half-way decent cop at all (and she seems far better at it than Carlie, in spite of how "smart" Marvel keeps telling us that she is), Watanabee would likely mention that, if MJ cares about Peter at all, she should help him by taking down Spider-Man because he's really Doc Ock and that Carlie uncovered the evidence to prove it. Seems more than coincidental that Slott would stick the two characters together who, because they each have a piece of the puzzle, could unravel the mystery.Oh, and speaking of Carlie, dare I say that her potentially becoming a Goblin-themed super-villain (hmm...Lady Goblin? Goblin Queen?) would probably be the best thing to happen to her character...that is if she doesn't become a "villain sue."

  9. hornacek

    So Carlie Cooper, the Burger King detective, is able to withstand torture? I wonder what percentage of the general population is able to withstand torture? I would guess it's low; I'm sure I wouldn't be able to. I know police officers go through rigorous training but I don't know if surviving torture is part of it. Plus Carlie is a CSI, not a regular police officer that has to deal with criminals face-to-face on a daily basis. But of course the plot needs her to be this tough, so whatever.It does seem as if the Venom symbiote will be the excuse given for Peter and Spider-Man's change in behavior ever since ASM #700 once Peter returns to his body.(sorry for the 3 posts in a row, I should have put them all in one)

  10. hornacek

    @13 - Kingsley used the Goblin formula on himself and got all of the power and none of the insanity. Norman didn't mix the chemicals right (?) and they exploded, damaging his brain.Some writers since ASM #40 have said that Norman was always evil, some have said that he was a good man and that only the Goblin formula made him evil. His actions from ASM #41-80ish tend to support the second option; he has amnesia and saves Gwen and Captain Stacey's lives with no thought of his own safety.

  11. Kevin Cushing

    @12: There have been very different versions of the Goblin Formula over the years, so it'll depend on what this version is like. When Harry first got it, the narration explicitly stated that it made him insane. But then, that version also killed him later. And according to BND logic, it also healed him. Because there are no holes in that at all...

  12. Jack

    Does the goblin formula automatically make you evil and nuts? Why wouldn't Carlie maybe rend them limb-from-limb?

  13. Enigma_2099

    "Peter" and the symbiote together again, sowing the seeds for a convenient "excuse..."...while Carle, the idiot running around keeping the truth to herself all this time, is suddenly doused with the Goblin formula.I CAN'T be the only who is worried about this development.

  14. Steerpike

    ....Sooooo, how many times has SpOck called MJ "Woman" so far? Now, how many times did Peter call her that before?

  15. Jack

    Peter will be standing on a heap of dead bodies, covered with their blood, waving a pitchfork and screaming at the top of his lungs, and only then will Dan Slott have someone say, "Hey! You're not Spider-Man!"

  16. sthenurus

    Agreeing with Kevin. All of the bad characterization will be toss aside because it was the symbiote. UNLESS cap listens to flash. AFter all, he was wearing the symbiote up til that point.

  17. crazychris

    I agree that Ramos's scenes of people talking are decent but he can't get it right when it comes time to draw super powered people hitting each other. If only he was drawing Gilmore Girls instead of Spider-Man!

  18. Lockdown

    I did forget to mention how Otto being "forbidden" by Aunt May was a call back to what happen between Otto and his mother when she wanted him to break off his engagement to his old college girlfriend before he became Dr. Octopus. It was history repeating itself and you can see why Otto went off the rails not just because of the symbiot.

  19. Mike 13

    I would have thought she was making "excuses" for Peter to avoid any and all conflict between Peter and the Jamesons (this is all assumption based as I have not read the issue yet)

  20. Jonathan

    I agree with Kevin. Feel free to attack me if I'm wrong, but I honestly don't think that Otto was under symbiote influence. Everything he did, at least the way I read it, was completely in-character and consistent with how he's been acting throughout this title. He treats MJ like a pawn, he screams at his Aunt because he loves Anna Maria more than anything. To me, none of that was too outlandish. Also, I have to point out that MJ almost made me like her in this issue, if it weren't for the fact that she had her dignity ripped away literally a page after she'd regained it. After Peterpus threatens her, she goes right back to making excuses for him. Now granted, some could say that she did this because she was scared of Venom, but I say that even then she should've done something more than say "Oh, Spider-Man came and got him." I personally think she should've said something along the lines of "Spider-Man attacked." That would've been plausible given what had just happened. Her calling the Avengers was a good point in the issue though, and a nice cliffhanger. However, it does seem as though Slott is going in the direction that Kevin said in his above comment.I'm glad you could enjoy this issue, Don. I personally gave it a C+

  21. Kevin Cushing

    Well, you were much more pleased by this issue than I was, my friend. And I'm glad you could enjoy it. Conversely, though, I just found this one laughable. The funny thing is, I was actually amused by some of the Lethal Protector stuff (I was hearing "Was that text message worth your life?" in a Christian Bale Batman voice and it was pretty funny), but the second half of the issue came off ridiculous in every way to me. And I can just see it now - MJ finally confronts Otto after a 24 issue build up, but now she'll think it was all the symbiote and as soon as he gets rid of it she'll go back to being oblivious. And if that also works on the Avengers I'll call foul considering they did tests on him and he did not have a symbiote. And yet I still feel like that's a likely outcome...

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