SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #24 REVIEW (Chris’s Take)


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Read this second opinion on the year’s final Superior Spider-Man issue!

THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #24
“Darkest Hours”
WRITERS: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
PENCILS: Humberto Ramos
INKS: Victor Olazaba
COLOR: Delgado, Fabela, & Gandini
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos

 

OPINIONS!
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.

"Look! Spider-Man is jumping through the fire . . . or he IS the fire . . . or something."

“Look! Spider-Man is jumping through the fire . . . or he is on fire . . . or he IS the fire . . . or something.”

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.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 7.26.14 PM

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.

 

C-

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(15) Comments

  1. JGC

    @13 - I enjoyed that line too! I still have my Venom: Lethal Protector mini-series, loved it when it came out. Funny story, I remember going to a convention back in the 90's and was next to a guy haggling to buy the gold shiny variant to Venom: Lethal Protector #1. I think the guy ended up buying it for $200. Wonder how he feels today?

  2. Chasing Amazing

    @Chris I understand what you're saying and my me saying you shouldn't review on here was a step too far. I guess my pertinent point is the "white noise" part of my comment, which is just that at this point, it's abundantly clear that you have massive issues with Ramos and I guess I'd find myself more engaged if you either found something new to analyze about Ramos for better or worse... but it's your review. I know I find myself falling into the same traps whenever I review a Liefeld comic when I do my 90s column at CSBG and my readers pick at me for being so dismissive without adding anything new or interesting the conversation about his art. The "obsessing" comment was more directed to the general populous and in reference to some of the comments this post and Donovan's received, but since I didn't direct it to anyone specifically, can understand the misunderstanding that I meant towards you. Again, I think your comment about the "house of cards" is fair. I'm much more forgiving than you and really liked this specific issue and found Slott/Gage resolved the pacing issues from the first two parts of this arc. And I will certainly aim to participate in the Crawlies! Can I wear a tux to the announcements?

  3. crazychris

    By the way, if you think a particular creator isn't getting his or her due on this site, then that is a great reason to vote in the 2013 Crawlie Awards! It's everyone's chance to help this site create an event centered on positivity and good will, but it can only be a success with your votes! I sincerely hope everyone participates!

  4. crazychris

    ...just spent 1 out of 7 or so paragraphs on that point, though, so "obsessing" is not quite how I'd characterize it. On the other hand, though, when you're reviewing one chapter of a work in progress, you pretty much have to give a snapshot of your feelings on the story at that point in time, and your expectations for the future are validly part of that.

  5. crazychris

    Chasing, sorry my dislike of the art ruins the reviews for you, and thank you for the compliments on the rest of the review. I actually tried to tone it down with your comment from an earlier review in mind, which is why I used the word "disappointing" rather than something harsher. I (obviously) disagree that me finding nothing to like about the art somehow means I should not be one of the reviewers on this site. What's the point of having a whole wide internet full of dozens of people reviewing this title if certain perspectives are ruled out? It's not like I'm being deliberately closed-mind or unfair, and I've tried to back up my criticisms with images from the comics that illustrate what I'm talking about. And it's not like I'm an excessively negative reviewer. If you want to skip over my discussion of the art and focus on what else I have to say, then I respect that. I just think it's a little extreme to say I shouldn't write for this site just because I can't stand one member of a rotating group of artists on a comic that I usually like! I do agree that criticizing a story for things that haven't happened yet should be avoided. I

  6. Chasing Amazing

    Found this to be one of the better paced/plotted issues of the Superior run... I think obsessing over how the Avengers aren't going to actually do anything important in the next issue before actually getting there is a little short sighted. This story is clearly setting up an end game right now. I agree that Slott sometimes takes illogical routes from Point A to Point B but his payoffs are generally satisfying all the same. Still wish this site didn't have a reviewer that finds zero redeeming qualities in one of the book's main artists. The inherent bias and ridicule it elicits diminishes an otherwise well thought-out review. I guess you can get away with it because you have multiple people reviewing the same issue with differing viewpoints, but can't help myself but view Chris' anti-Ramos stuff as just white noise, which in turn makes me accelerate to the end of the review, which is a shame, because I generally enjoy what Chris writes, even if I don't agree with him. But maybe I'm just being too open-minded and edgy.

  7. Jack

    @Lockdown: Black Window is my favorite avenger! I love the way she slams down hard on the fingers of super-villains!

  8. Stuart Green

    I'm more worried about MJ's future now more than ever. Remember how Slott said certain characters wouldn't be safe in a recent interview of CBR and that he'd have "a trail of bodies" in Goblin Nation? I could totally see him have SpOck murder M.J. at some point, especially if he finds out she called the Avengers on him. SpOck telling her in this issue "there will be consequences" + M.J. calling the Avengers to interfere = reason for SpOck to follow through on his threat. Maybe he won't or maybe someone else will axe M.J. later on, but still, I have a bad feeling about all this. "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." I laughed so hard reading this. This is one of my favorite quotes of anything ever. Thanks, Chris. :)

  9. Donovan Grant

    "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. " Not exclusively. "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." I agree and I probably should have made it more apparent in my review that that really bugged me. My feelings were lessened due to my enjoyment of the ending, but the lasting feelings of annoyance at Slott's/SpOck's "out" being the symbiote stick with me because everything that's thrown MJ and the Avengers off the trail up to this point has felt so contrived. Again, we'll see how the next issue turns out. If they but talk to Flash and Cardiac and realize "Peter's" only had the symbiote for about an hour, they'll not be thrown.

  10. Lockdown

    What really would throw things out the window is the fact that Captain America and Black Window know about Flash being Agent Venom. If they are going to end up saying: "We can't talk about that team." excuse then that really paints the Avengers as morons to the writer's connivence not actual continuity or logic. What Flash said at the beginning of part 1 and 2 about how Spider-Man would not know about he being Venom due to how he started out as much and how the Secret Avengers operated. That makes plenty of sense, even having Otto discover the truth when Flash showed up at his doorstep and Otto was in complete shock. Just like if Peter was still in the driver's seat of his body and had discovered during battle that Flash was Venom. That would have lead to him letting it go and then later dealing with the fact that his old bully and now friend was Venom. That is conflict in good old story telling. Instead its: "Let's drag out no one realizing buy Carlie that Peter isn't who he says he is."

  11. Sbee

    I can't believe slott expects us to accept how incredibly stupid everyone in the marvel universe is in his title. It's incredible how in avengers Bruce banner or other members are regarded as some of the most brilliant yet in superior they couldn't spell cat if you spotted them the C and the T. I'm surprised the editors don't proof read these issues and get offended at how stupid he makes some of these characters look. Sorry for being so negative about this book but it saddens me that scarlet spider is ending which I thought has been such a more appealing and exhalirating series and this keeps getting all the accolades ugh.

  12. stillanerd

    The thing is Norman Osborn wasn't the only person to potentially have access to the Green Goblin formula, much less the Green Goblin equipment. Remember, Peter was able to get into one of Norman's secret stashes in ASM #697. Plus, whatever happened to the Goblin Key?

  13. Jonathan

    I agree with pretty much everything you said here. I have to say that if Peterpus manages to fool the Avengers a second time, then I will completely give up on this title.

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