Reviews: Superior Spider Man
Okay, let me start this by admitting that I'm not a fan of Peter Parker, I find him whiny and Sue-ish. People always claim he's the every man who is flawed and relateable, but he strikes me as an incredibly handsome super genius who regularly dates supermodels and blames all of his problems on something or someone else (a frame of mind that his fans also seem to fall into). A more realistic and relateable (at least to me) hero is Hank Pym, a man who has suffered and committed horrendous mistakes and never seems to catch a break (unlike his creepy crawly contemporary, Parker) But I digress, this review isn't about Pym or even Parker, it's about Otto Octavius and his play at being a superhero. Like Peter, he seems to blame external forces for all his failings, but the difference is that we're not suppose to agree with him, we're suppose to call him on his fumbles like anyone would and not slavishly make excuses for them. Writer Dan Slott has stated he wanted to take Spider-Man's public menace stigma to a meta-textual level and I believe he has succeeded. Unlike Peter who only had one Jameson, Otto has to contend with countless detractors calling for his head on a daily basis. But, if you go into the series with and open mind, I think you'll find one of the most unique comics on the stand today. Otto brings a mad scientist flavor to crime fighting in ways that other science heroes never have. He set's complex traps, keeps the the city under constant surveillance, and shows no mercy when battling super criminals. Sure his plans don't always work (something his detractors are always quick to point out, so much for characters that don't always win being enjoyable and relateable), but he's making a serious, if misguided, attempt to reform and leave the world a better place than when he got there. I for one find that more interesting than watching Peter cry about not knowing which supermodel he should hook up with for the hundredth time. Even if you're only a bit curious, I'd say give Superior a shot, and come on, we all know it's just a matter of time before Pete comes back.
Why is this a thing?
Christ, it hasn't been easy to be a Spider-Man fan in the last couple of years. Between having his entire continuity violently fisted by Joe Quesada in OMD, and now having this stupid 'Doctor Octopus is Spider-Man' garbage shoved down our throats. Despite the fact that Spider-Man has been outwitting Ock for 60 years or so, meaning that by default Peter should already be the Superior one, Doctor Octopus somehow swaps bodies with Peter through...robots, or some shit. Even by comic book standards this is already a stupid premise. Peter then dies an undignified death inside Doctor Octopus' ruined body, a massive insult to the character and all those who were fans of him. Otto then tries to prove himself as 'superior' by being a SUPER-SERIOUS GRIMDARK ANTI-HERO, GRR (Because having any characters that are quirky, lighthearted or fun is a cardinal sin in modern comics) and proceeds to beat up the Avengers and hook up with Mary-Jane, another middle finger to the people who opposed OMD. So, it's not even Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man's body, it's a generic gloating Villain Sue in Peter's body. This will likely be undone by the time the second Andrew Garfield movie comes around, but...no, I'm sorry, Marvel you've just completely lost me. I read through the pants-on-head retardedness of Civil War. I survived the mindless sensationalist stupidity of World War Hulk. I was even willing to endure Marvel NOW, but this... When you kill off a classic character with a large fanbase and following, in such a shameful and disrespectful fashion, you've just lost me as a reader entirely. You know what annoys me the most? It's being deliberately provocative. It's insulting the classic Spider-Man and everything he stood for, just to bring in the readers through controversy. The only thing I can hope for is to see Otto Octavius burn for eternity at the hands of Mephisto, and maybe Dan Slott will suffer a similar fate for sticking his tongue out at Spider-fans.
He's an Inferior Spider-Man, but that's not why I'm mad
Peter Parker is awesome. He appeals to people because he's relatable: he has flaws and is an everyman, but he genuinely wants to do the right thing and is able to be upbeat and heroic despite the tragedies of his life. Doc Ock cannot hold a candle to Peter Parker. Yes, villains getting redemption is a thing. But how does Doc Ock deserve redemption? He murdered Spider-Man, then selfishly did it again while claiming that after 8 issues, he knew more about being Spider-Man than the guy who'd worn the costume for 50 years. But he's not Spider-Man, he's just a generic grimdark 90's-esque character. He kills, he makes villain quotes, and he shows hardly a speck of remorse for his past actions (missing the most essential element of an atoner character). He's also incredibly shilled. The recaps state that Ock "might become the greatest hero of all", characters who have known Peter Parker for years are derailed so that they don't realize Ock is an impostor, and the creative team mockingly refers to Peter as "your parents' Spider-Man". Honestly, despite Peter being one of the few Marvel characters I care about (DC fanboy here), I'm not mad that he's dead. Comic book characters die all the time. You don't see me raging at Ultimate Spider-Man either. What I hate is that he died in a way completely disrespectful to his character: a villain swaps bodies with him and he dies, with nobody any the wiser. No Heroic Sacrifice, no last words to his family. He's just dead and nobody sheds a single tear for him. It's pure shOck value. If Peter Parker died, then Ock transferred his mind to a clone body and appeared as a mysterious new Spider-Man (with only the Avengers and some others knowing that it wasn't the same guy under the mask and everyone else thinking it was the same Spider-Man), I probably wouldn't mind. Because it's not Spider-Man I care about. He's just a mask. The guy I care about is Peter Parker. All my complaints? They're not because Ock is a bad Spider-Man. They're because he's a horrible Peter Parker. A mask belongs to whoever wears it at the time, but a life cannot be supplanted by another life. That's why I'll ultimately hate this arc, no matter what happens. (By the way, if Peter had died and J.J.J. had suddenly gained spider powers and become Spider-Man, I would have loved the hell out of that story.)
Let's see how it goes
I will admit,I was angry and heartbroken by the loss of Peter Parker. It felt as though I had lost one of my closest friends, and, in essence, I had. Spider-Man has been a huge influence on my life, every since I was a baby. One of the first shows I ever watched was Spider-Man The Animated Series. One of the first American movies I ever watched was the Sam Raimi Spidey film. The first comic books I ever got(and have gotten the most)are ol'Webhead's. He taught me about responsibility, how to deal with what you have, being a good samaritan, and even how to embrace my inner nerd. But,after I had calmed down, I saw the sense in it. Ock was, in many ways, an Evil Counterpart to Pete.Radiation incident,"8 limbed animal" theme,social outcast;Ock is what Peter would have been without the loving care of parent figures like Pete's, and if he hadn't learn the Comes Great Responsibility lesson, so I find it an interesting take. I DO believe that it was an undignified death for Spidey(and on his 50th anniversary, too), but I am willing to look past it and give Ock a chance, Ghost-Peter being the crutches I needed to get used to it, before he was killed off too. I like Ock's changes to the suit, they are very practical and give him an edge in analysing his opponent and planning counter-attacks. I do not like his huge ego, but I am sure that Marvel's gonna give him a lesson in humility very soon. I don't like his treatment of the people around him, but that will get better eventually. I like that he is actually doing a fair amount of good in the city, but in his way. I have mixed feelings about his murder of Massacre, I didn't like it, but Ock had a point. If Massacre was left alive, he might just keep on killing. Even if he starts feeling emotions again, remember, Status Quo Is God. I also like all the comparisons made with Scarlet Spider. Both are former villains earning redemption, their new suits are palette swaps of each other, and they have an equal amount of powers and tech to be evenly matched. This will come to a head in "Sibling Rivalry". I think that Ock IS capable of being good. His anger/disgust at the mistreatment of kids by Vulture, his friendship and respect with little person Anne Marconi, and him fixing the girl with brain damage, are key points that show this. I'm willing to give this series a chance.Are you?
Good Execution: Terrible Idea
Normally when a big change happens in a comic book universe, I try to go in with an open mind and give it a fair chance. Superior Spider Man made me give up this practise because I knew that no matter how well it was executed, I wouldn't get over what an incredibly terrible idea it was. I can understand Dan Slott's intention to take Spider-Man's 'Hero With Bad Publicity' status to a meta level, but let's look at the first word in that phrase. Hero. The following is not up for discussion; Otto Octavius is not a hero. I could bring up his decades of villainy or his plan to cull mankind in Ends of the Earth, but I don't even need to step outside of the current series. Otto Octavius kills Peter Parker and then erases his ghostly remains so that he can never take back his own body. If I took that last sentence and gave it to hundreds of Spider-Man fans 1 year ago, I can guarantee you that none of them would describe Otto as a 'Hero'. He stole a real hero's identity, trapped him in a dying body, and now that he's dead, is impersonating him to his friends and family. What's really sad about this is that Dan Slott isn't a bad writer by any means - the first few issues are genuinely entertaining and interesting. The artwork is great and I got a few laughs along the way. But I just can't get past the fact that there is no Spider-Man in this Spider-Man series - just Dr Octopus, who isn't even one of Spider-Man's more interesting villains. The series could have even still worked if it had just been tweaked a bit, but the moment Doc Ock killed Peter, he was beyond ever being a 'Hero', and thus I have no more interest in what he does. I'm sure Dan Slott will ride the coat-tails of 'No Such Thing As Bad Publicity' and enjoy writing a best-selling series, but his legacy will always be that his Magnum Opus was one of the most negatively-received Spider-Man stories ever written, and considering the reception to One More Day, that really is an accomplishment. Thanks for trying something new Dan, but I'll check Wikipedia every few months until the change is reversed and the series becomes readable again.