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Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Superior Spider-man #3

One of the things which I discussed in my review of the previous issue of Superior Spider-man was that, now that Doc Ock has seemingly solved all of the problems which plagued Peter for decades of comics, what challenges will he face now?  One week later and Superior Spider-man #3 begins to answer these questions.

In this issue, Doc Ock (in the body of Peter Parker) faces against his first real super villain in the form of old friend Adrian Toomes, alias: The Vulture.  Meanwhile, Carlie grows increasingly suspicious of the actions of this "new" Spider-man.

With Superior Spider-man #3 we finally begin to get an idea of what being Spider-man is going to be like for Doc Ock.  As I have previously discussed, the good doctor approaches being a superhero like it were any other science experiment.  While there are few moments of Ock experimenting in this issue, we do get to see him struggle with what he wants to do as Spider-man.  

As the cover would suggest, this issue has, in part, a take on some of the old tropes of Batman.  J Jonah Jameson believes that, now that he and Spider-man have made amends, he can simply command Spidey whenever he feels like it by shining a Spider signal into the night sky.  Although this could have easily been an homage/spoof that turned horribly goofy, Dan Slott is able to have Ock react to this situation in a way which feels natural as well as being funny.  Whenever Commissioner Gordon calls on Batman with the Bat-signal, usually Bats does well to work with Gordon on whatever crime may need solving.  Doc Ock, however, is no Batman.  In fact, Ock sees such rooftop meetings as a "waste of time" since he already has the information he needs.  I felt that this was an interesting direction to go as Ock really seems to be doing his own thing within the body of Peter Parker, only adding to doubts that it is Peter behind the mask.

The cracks are beginning to show in Ock's acting as both Peter and Spider-man.  Carlie, a character newer to the Spider-man mythos (hence my unfamiliarity with her going in to this series) knows that something is not right with Peter.  This would seem to be Slott's first answer to my "what challenges will this Superior Spider-man face" question.  Ock's first challenge?  Actually acting like Peter Parker.  While I feel like this is a problem which could easily be solved in just a few issues, the inevitable conflict over whether Carlie will figure out Peter is not really Peter will be interesting to watch unfold.

I mentioned that this issue shows us what kind of Spider-man Doc Ock is going to be.  Not only does he find rooftop meetings with the mayor unnecessary, but he also fights his super villains in a much different fashion.  Often Peter would have to make adjustments to his strategy after coming to blows with the villain.  With Ock in control, however, Spider-man now prepares for all eventualities before ever engaging in battle with the villain.  More of Ock's scientific bent shining through (and it's pretty cool).  As Vulture is a villain Ock knew during his life of crime, it made for interesting banter between them and a Spider-man that was much more willing to negotiate than the one we saw in the first issue.  When Ock makes a shocking discovery about Vulture's hired help, however, we see that he is clearly going to be a Spider-man that lacks remorse.  Some would argue that this goes against the very idea of who Spider-man should be.  Perhaps, and perhaps this will eventually lead to Peter Parker being restored to his own body, but I'm willing to go on this ride with Doc Ock and Dan Slott.  

After all, if Slott is going to draw some references to Batman I suppose I can draw one of my own: this Superior Spider-man is to Spider-man as Azrael was to Batman.  Except, you know, without all of the crazy religious nonsense.

Overall, Slott does a good job of writing this issue.  While I did not enjoy it as much as the previous one, I felt that we were given enough new character development to make the issue good.  The Batman homage was fun, but I felt that we ultimately found out more about what kind of superhero Ock wants to be during his fight with Vulture.  Slott also reveals an aspect of how this shared body between Peter and Ock works that could lead to some interesting story possibilities.

Ryan Stegman has improved with each issue I am glad to say.  The first issue of Superior Spider-man had art that was mediocre.  I feel that Stegman has begun to hit his stride with this issue and expect him to begin hitting it out of the park a lot more often.  Stegman seems to enjoy his detail, but he does not need to over-crowd his panels.  Fortunately, this is a lesson he has already seemed to have taken to heart.

I believe the next issue of Superior Spider-man will continue to answer my over-arching question for this series as Ock seems to be facing off against a new super villain.  How his strategies change for this fight and how the suspicions of Carlie influence the continuing story will be fun to see.

Rating: A-

Summary:  Superior Spider-man #3 is not as great as the previous issue, but there is a lot of good character development, particularly to Doc Ock's role as Spider-man.
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