Superior Spider-Man Annual #2 Review: AndrewRoebuck’s Take


Blood Ties”
WRITER: Christos Gage
PENCILS: Javier Rodriguez
INKER: Alvaro Lopez
COLORIST: Javier Rodriquez
EDITOR: Ellie Pyle

Chasing Ghosts”
WRITER: Christos Gage
ARTIST: Philipe Briones
COLORIST: Veronica Gandini
LETTERER: VC’s Clayton Cowles
EDITOR: Ellie Pyle

COVER ARTIST: Michael Del Mundo

PLOT: We begin with a sad Ben Urich reminiscing about times gone by wondering how his nephew fell so far. He gets a call from Mary Jane (still driving at this point) telling him to lay low and to alert the rest of the daily bugle staff of the Goblin danger. Ben warns Robbie Robertson and then promptly lets him know that he will be staying in his own safe house. Lying, he visits Parker industries in order to find a cure to save his poor nephew. Sajani meets up with him and promptly introduces him to Goblinized Carlie. She then hands him a trial antidote saying that it MIGHT work or it MIGHT kill him. He takes the risk to save his beloved nephew. Cut to thee Goblin Knight himself as he approaches a building he presumes to be belonging to Nora Winters (who calls him a loser earlier in the issue on TV) but alas it is only his dear old uncle. They appear to be having a heart to heart as Ben slowly approaches with the Goblin cure hidden behind his back. They are interrupted however as two Goblin goons burst in holding Robbie hostage. Phil assumes that his uncle was going to ambush him and crushes the cure. He then slashes Robbie with his fiery sword. Not all is lost however as Superior Spider-Man makes a Superior Cameo to beat the snot out of the Goblin Knight…but he can’t finish the fight as he needs to get Robbie to a hospital. Ben realizes that his nephew can’t be saved and Otto swings off.

In the second story The Wraith wakes up and punches the Living Brain. Then she bursts into Sajanis lab and punches Carlie Cooper. They have a short fight which is promptly ended when Sajani says that Carlie will lose control if they don’t inject her with the antidote now. They inject her; she goes into a coma…the end.

STORY: Wow who can believe it’s been two years of Superior Spider-Man already oh wait nope it’s barely been one year. This issue is not an annual it’s a ONE SHOT…not a particularly bad one shot, but a one shot nonetheless. Christos Gage is essentially being a Superior Janitor this issue attempting to tie up loose ends before the series comes to a close. The only real thing of note that happens in this issue is Carlie going into a coma. Which in the comic world is essentially just an easy way of writing a character off for a few issues, we know they aren’t going to kill her off. She will just wake up a few issues into Amazing Spider-Man presumably with a memory gap.

Even though the issue was rather uneventful it did have some merit as a character study. It really focuses on getting to the heart of what defines Ben Urich, and what makes Phil Urich a tragic character in some sense. They are very continuity conscious in this book, which means they take note of things that have happened in the past in a very natural, organic way. Ben bringing up Daredevil and Electra to Robbie makes complete sense fitting the moment very well. Ben seems like a character with real history and expertise. It is rare for a journalist in a comic book to feel like a journalist and in this issue Gage captures the character expertly. Ben uses his wits and resources to save the day; even though he fails he still puts forth an effort unseen by most mere civilians in the Marvel universe. Interestingly enough this issue does have a great moment of Otto actually getting a one-up on Oscorp technology, which is the complete anti-thesis of everything going on in Superior. It was nice to see Otto have a partial win for a change instead of being outwitted at every possible turn.

The Wraith storyline is a little less memorable but it is significant. It establishes where Carlie will be during the last two issues of Superior and puts The Wraith in a position to participate in the final Goblin fight that is no doubt coming in a few issues. Overall it’s a quick fight scene storyline that is resolved fairly quickly the bulk of the annual focuses on the Urich’s.

ART: The art for me is what really sells this issue. I love both artists and the styles they bring to each story. Javier has a very unique style that really captures how emotions, and environments. I love the detail in the opening page of the book, Ben’s apartment has a lived in feel. I particularly enjoyed the addition of ramen noodles sitting near the credits. It is a throwaway addition but without it I feel like we would be missing something. Touches like these really make or break a book. Philippe is likewise brilliant in his short depiction of The Wraith vs. Monster battle. Overall one of the greatest strength of Superior as a whole has been the artwork and this Annual continues to impress.

ODDITIES: Phil Urich and Carlie Cooper were supposedly dosed with the same Goblin formula? I think not the time lapse from when they both received the formula is large enough to assume that it is a different strand. Especially due to the fact that it alters her physical appearance, so I doubt that the same antidote would be effective for both. This being said we never see it used on Phil so we don’t know if it would have even worked. Ben loses faith in Phil because he is enjoying doing the attacks…or you know he’s just crazy. Like you just said the Goblin formula makes people…two panels ago. It also does a close up at one point to a picture of Phil Urich as the GOOD Green Goblin, yet I didn’t think that was common knowledge? When in the time line does this take place? After dealing with Sajani and Monster Otto immediately gets a call about someone being kidnapped and rushes over in an attempt to save the person The Goblin kidnaps. They make specific reference in the story that he is not stopping for anything or anyone (at one point even phoning the police to report a crime instead of stopping it himself. Unless this story takes place after Superior #30 it doesn’t fit chronologically.

BEST BACKGROUND CHARACTER: Sajani is the only real background character, and she does have some accomplishments this issue. She is treated with respect, and given some intellectual merit which is nice. There is a reason Otto wanted her to be part of his company, she is a genius.

ON THE NEXT SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN:   Superior Spider-Man Annual #3, with a foil bag, holographic cover, featuring the journey of a lonely Spider-Bot missing all of his friends, coming next week.


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(3) Comments

  1. hornacek

    Andrew, I didn't realize it reading the other review, but when reading this one it jumped out at me that is a Superior Spider-Man ANNUAL and the title character barely appears in it. You're right, it is like he's putting in a cameo appearance in someone else's book. These stories seem more suited to a Tangled Web type anthology book. Not that an annual can't have stories starring supporting characters - the 90s annuals would have 2-3 of them, but they would have the main story starring the main character. I would feel ripped off if I bought this expecting a annual starring the Superior Spider-Man, no matter the quality of these stories.

  2. Jack Brooks

    I really enjoy Christos Gage's writing so much more. His characterizations are more rounded, and he seems to "get" feelings like kindness, wishfulness, idealism. He doesn't seem like a cynic, and he doesn't come off like he's making guesses at what those emotions are like. There's also a nicely ironic approach to humor.

  3. ryan3178

    Sajani did finally feel like a real character here. In the past she was written as being either arrogant, fixing a solution or yelling at people how smart she is. Finally felt like she was a character here but why did she unstrap Carlie and then need her to be strapped back down?

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