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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Superior Spider-man #4

So far, Superior Spider-man has been a series that has improved steadily with each issue.  With every story, Dan Slott has shown that he has a lot in store for the new Spider-man/Peter Parker and, thus far, it has been an entertaining ride.  How does issue 4 stack up?  Read on to find out.


In Superior Spider-man #4, Doc-Ock (in the body of Peter Parker) continues to make small measures to make Peter's life as Spider-man more efficient, but his patience is beginning to wear thin.  Meanwhile, a merciless villain named Massacre has broken out of prison and is leaving a trail of bodies which will lead him straight to New York.

Despite my enjoyment of Superior Spider-man, I have to say that this was probably the slowest issue thus far.  90% of the story within this issue involves the planting of story seeds that could develop as soon as the next issue or several issues down the line.  I do not necessarily mind comics that take the time to set up what is going to come, but I hate that we cannot really tell how important such issues will be until these seeds of story come to fruition.  Dan Slott is a regular gardener this week, planting story seeds right up until a final page reveal that makes it worth reading to the end of the issue.

Superior Spider-man #4 starts out quite strong.  We have our usual internal monologue with Ock about how he has improved being Spider-man from how it was with Peter Parker.  For Ock, this translates to stopping more crime.  With the help of some tiny spider-robots, Ock has been able to manage his time more wisely in that he only has to focus on the crimes that are of the utmost importance.  As I have mentioned in previous reviews for this series, I love the idea of having Ock approach the idea of being Spider-man like it is a science experiment.  I still feel that this is a clever move on the part of Dan Slott and I love that the ambiguity of Ock's motivation throughout it all is becoming infuriating for the spirit of Peter Parker hanging out in his head.

Otto Octavious has become an overall more efficient Spider-man, and, as we see at the beginning of this issue, others are beginning to take notice.  While I am someone who supports the idea of trying out Otto as Peter Parker/Spider-man, the guy begins to cross some boundaries big time in this issue.  Doc Ock is a hot-tempered, arrogant man and Peter Parker is not.  Through the first three issues of this series Carly seemed to be the only person who noticed that Peter Parker was not acting quite right.  In this issue, the list of people who do not trust this new Peter begins to grow and it will be interesting to see the way this conflict comes to a head.  If he wants to remain in Peter's body, Ock is going to need to have something happen to him that throws him off his game.  In fact, I would say that Superior Spider-man is too well-oiled a machine in terms of story and something needs to give to keep this book interesting.  Fortunately, the tease at the end of this issue seems to come with a promise that Otto is going to have his first real challenge very soon.

Massacre is pretty much a throw-away villain in this story.  While he interesting from a design stand point, nothing really separates him from any other crazy guy without a conscious in comics.  In an issue that is so much about set-up, there is not much going on to make me deeply interested in what Massacre is up to.  There is definitely a nice turn when Ock vows to track down and kill Massacre, but I am apprehensive about putting too much stock in that actually happening.  If it does happen, however, you can put me on record as saying Dan Slott will have made Superior Spider-man a must-read.  The fallout of such an event would be fantastic to see.

Doing what appears to be a guest spot as artist, Guiseppe Camuncoli's art is overall very close in style to Ryan Stegman.  Throughout most of the issue, Comuncoli provides some really great moments that are oftentimes less cartoony than Stegman's art can be.  There are moments, however, where Camuncoli makes some very odd art choices.  While they may have been intentional as character revealing moments, there are times in this issue where Peter looks more like a 40 year old creep than a mid-30s average guy.  This is a matter of personal preference, but I don't really like my Spidey very muscular and there are times where Camuncoli's Spidey is quite buff.  Overall, however, Camuncoli does a good job.

While this issue will likely prove very important in the long run, it's overall not a very exciting story.  As previously mentioned, I don't mind a comic with a lot of set-up, but at least give me some amount of actual story.  Doc Ock wanting to have Peter get his doctorate so he can be called "Doctor" yet again is a nice touch, but is really something which only makes for an interesting 2-3 pages.  This has been an overall great comic thus far so I am hoping this issue is just a temporary set back as Dan Slott prepares us for what is to come.  I could be wrong, but I have faith that the next issue will be much better.

Rating: B

Summary: Superior Spider-man #4 does little aside from setting up story threads for the next few issues, but at least the story threads are interesting.

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