Written by Dan Slott
Art by Ryan Stegman
Color by Edgar Delgado
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
$3.99 / 32 pages / Color
Published by Marvel Comics
The damage has been done. The dust has settled and with the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Dan Slott did the unthinkable and has ruined the lives of legions of Spider-Man fans. The mind/body swap that occurred as The Amazing Spider-Man‘s 50 year run came to close left the mind of Otto Octavius, also known as Doctor Octopus, in the body of Peter Parker, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. But in a surprising twist, this diabolical villain, after being given a glimpse of the life and experiences of Peter Parker, swore to use his intellect along with Parker’s body to be a Superior Spider-Man. With the first issue of The Superior Spider-Man out in stores this Wednesday, we now start to find out exactly what that means.
At first glance, what The Superior Spider-Man means is that we get a new number one issue, continuing to be written by Dan Slott along with art by Ryan Stegman. In my book, that’s a very good thing. Whether or not your entire history of comics fandom was unraveled or not by the events The Amazing Spider-Man #700, you have give Marvel Comics and Dan Slott credit. They got you talking about Spider-Man again. Not that the book was awful and pulled out of the gutters–quite the opposite. Slott’s run as the lead writer on The Amazing Spider-Man has been nothing but tons of fun by my measure. I’ve enjoyed the comic week in and week out and so when we saw the events featuring Doctor Octopus reveal themselves, I applauded Slott for pulling off a story that had seemingly been in the works for 100 issues. To massage and mine that sort of story without getting redirected by crossovers and events is an accomplishment in this age of comic books. Even if the byproduct is a Spider-Man with Doctor Octopus’ mind inside. Even if it’s The Superior Spider-Man.
After reading The Superior Spider-Man #1, I can only say one thing: Long live The Superior Spider-Man!
Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a die-hard Spider-Man fan, or maybe I’ve gotten to the point with my comic reading where I really like crazy ideas, but as I read The Superior Spider-Man #1, all I could do was giggle at the insanity of it all, how we got here, and the fact that as issue #1 progresses, you realize that Slott and Stegman are indeed pulling this off. The switcheroo between Peter Parker and Doctor Octopus now puts this book in a very interesting place. Can Octavius keep up Peter’s life without giving away who he is and what happened? It was clear from the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, and continuing into The Superior Spider-Man #1, that Doc Ock wasn’t going to alter the way he talked or approached life. Sure that leaves many around Spider-Man scratching their heads, and you can only assume it’s a matter of time before people start reacting negatively, because I think we all can admit that Doc Ock is kind of a jerk. It’s that pins and needles situation, the moments of wondering if someone is going to figure it out, or speculating when and how Doc Ock blows it, that gives this book it’s edge. As readers, we know something is very, very wrong with Spider-Man and watching it play out in front of us is infinitely compelling. Additionally, Slott has taken the opportunity to examine who Peter Parker was as Spider-Man and point out his flaws, where he went wrong, and answer that question that we all asked ourselves as kids, “What would I do if I was Spider-Man?” But in this case, we see what a megalomaniacal super genius villain would do.
Part of the charm of Slott’s writing of Spider-Man is the simplicity of it. He gets the core of the character and the world that he lives in. I can understand some of the criticism and frustration folks have had with his stories, as the conversations and situations tend to feel overly clear and overly obvious, to a point of seeming unrealistic. Now while Slott is guilty of this from time to time– and this issue is no exception–I believe that he makes it work for him, and furthermore, it fits for a mostly all-ages approach to an iconic hero.
Visually, there is no better artist to launch this book than Ryan Stegman. It’s almost like he was born to draw Spider-Man, even if it’s Doc Ock inside his head. I want to say Stegman’s work here is reminiscent of McFarlane, not just in the cartoony style and visual approach to characters, but in terms of a kinetic energy that explodes off every page. When Spider-Man jumps, you get the sense of him springing into action. The subtleties of capturing action, be it a fight with the new Sinister Six, or the drama of a conversation with Mary Jane, are done in an exciting way that keeps you turning each to page to see what will happen next. My only criticism is that I find myself wishing for a cleaner line from within his art and I wonder if the art could be a bit tighter and benefit from having an inker on board, as opposed to Stegman handling all the art chores himself. But if anything, that’s a nitpick, because if this book featured every issue by Stegman like this, I would be the last guy to complain.
Since this review is spoiler-free, I’m bound to not give away details or specific plot points, but it’s safe to say that Spider-Man fans, ranging from the ones who have been on suicide watch because of this to the ones who understand how comics work will want to read this issue, if anything to see just what the new world of Spider-Man will be like.
The Superior Spider-Man #1 is the next chapter in a grand epic and I have all the faith in the world that it will continue to be as entertaining as ever, if not more so from the looks of it.
Story: 4 / Art: 4 / Overall: 4
(Out of 5 Stars)