THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #24
WRITERS: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
PENCILS: Humberto Ramos
INKS: Victor Olazaba
COLOR: Delgado, Fabela, & Gandini
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
Before I reach this issue’s substance, I feel compelled to respond to Don’s review directly, because his statements regarding Humberto Ramos’s art seem pointed in my direction. Don stated the following: “Here’s the thing with Ramos. When he draws images of people talking or scenes of ordinary events happening, I really like him . . . 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 . . . 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 . . . It’s a style thing more than an actual ability to draw.”
I can agree with that assessment to a certain extent. However, “action” and “scenes with high energy” are the sine qua nom of super hero comics. If a professional basketball player excels at running around a court, but he cannot catch or throw a ball well, then he needs to go play a different game. Comics are about telling stories with pictures, so I find it unacceptable for the art to be “hard to follow,” particularly when it comes to action. It is in that respect that I find Ramos work disappointing. It is not a matter of mere stylistic preference.
As a completely separate point, I also happen not to enjoy Ramos’s style. This issue treats us to several scenes depicting the Superior Spider-Man as Venom, and it looks awful to me. Granted, the amorphous alien Venom grants artists some freedom to play fast and loose with human anatomy (yes, I know how that phrasing sounds). But Venom should at least look scary. Giving him a Quasimodo back, a Barbie waist, shriveled fetus arms, and bunny feet does not send me fleeing in terror.
Anyhow, this awful-looking Spider-Venom ventures off to pummel low-level criminals to make his presence known. This is bad news for Flash because he will die if he does not rejoin the symbiote within hours, and this is bad news for readers because I can think of few things less interesting than watching a new Venom attacking purse snatchers and texting while drivingers.
Meanwhile, the Green Goblin impersonates the Hobgoblin to trick crooks who bought villain identities from the Hobgoblin into paying him. Some of these villains stage a diamond heist to recoup their losses. Back at Goblin HQ, the Green Goblin declares that he did not care about the money, but he wanted to send a message to the “pretender” goblin. He also forces some goblin formula onto Carlie. Hmmm . . . he sees himself as the one true goblin, and he has access to Goblin formula. Can he be anyone other than Norman?
Peterpus then meets Anna Maria, who blames herself for Aunt May’s bigoted comments toward her. Peterpus barges into Aunt May and Jay’s apartment to give May a piece of his mind. This conversation is intense, and Don rightly called it the issue’s best moment. Mary Jane shows up to intervene, and she confronts “Peter” regarding his changed behavior. Responding to reports of the Hobgoblin’s underlings’ heist, Peterpus transforms into Venom in Mary Jane’s sight and swings off. Mary Jane calls the Avengers (who don’t know how she got their number–I guess they forgot that it used to be her home number) to warn them that Peter has gone Venomy.
I expect that Mary Jane, and possibly the Avengers, will assume that “Peter” was possessed by the Venom symbiote for the entire time he has been acting differently. This is how the writers are going to throw the supporting cast off Otto’s scent and draw out the Superior saga for longer. It isn’t certain that the story will go in that direction, but I see can see it so close in front of my face that it’s making me wince. The thing is, this might have been a plausible means to fool the supporting cast if Slott had written them more believably in the first place. But the way it stands now, the only reason Mary Jane might be fooled by the symbiote defense is because Carlie was too dumb to warn her that he’s Otto. The only reason the Avengers could be fooled is because none of the smart ones were present when they ran tests on Spider-Manpus, so they might chalk up their not detecting the symbiote to user error. This (potential) effort by the writers to write the story away from its logical–and short–path toward a conclusion just underscores the card house of contrivances at this story’s foundation.