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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Superior Spider-man #5

As you may recall from my review of the previous issue of Superior Spider-man, I expressed disappointment that a series that has so much potential wasted an entire issue doing nothing but setting up future story threads.  Some of that set up pays off in this week's chapter so let's take a look and see if the set-up was worth it.

In Superior Spider-man #5 Massacre makes his way into New York City, wreaking havoc in his wake.  Meanwhile, Doc Ock takes his time saving the day, much to the chagrin of the spirit of Peter Parker.

The issue starts off an a somewhat interesting note.  As Massacre had shot up a fast food joint in the previous issue, we get to see the reaction on the end of the restaurant's owner.  Massacre arrives and makes her a rather unusual offer: he will kill thousands of people while wearing the logo of her competitor in exchange for $12 million.  While this was certainly a good opening for the issue, this story thread would not really pay off until the very end (and in a huge way).  One thing that made this section interesting is that the logo in question resembled the former logo for Marvel Comics.  I'm not sure what Dan Slott/Giuseppe Camuncoli were trying to say here, but it was an odd move.

This issue contains two huge revelations which will set the tone for not only the foreseeable future for  Superior Spider-man, but potentially other titles as well (such as Avengers).  Before these reveals take place, however, Ock takes his time in this issue, spending a good 75% of the book working his way towards Grand Central Station: the place where Massacre has launched his attack.  

Ock is starting to move from testing the waters with what he can get away with as Peter to full on apathy for the consequences of some of his smaller actions.  With each issue of Superior Spider-man, Ock has worked to improve the technology he uses for crime fighting, mostly through the use of the eyes.  Things started out easy enough: a band of robot spiders to patrol for him and an app he can use to check on what they are seeing.  This time around Ock crosses a new line: using facial recognition software to find villains.  It would seem Ock wants to turn being Spider-man into more of a CIA/SHIELD type role and others are beginning to take notice.  It will be interesting to see what other moves Ock makes to becoming almost an omnipresent superhero.

The book makes an odd digression when Peter (Ock) goes to meet with a small girl who has been offering to tutor him in Physics.  While this section of the story provided an interesting look at how the science of the world of superheroes has not completely been released to the public at large, it ultimately seemed to slow down the relatively quick pace of the issue.

Where things really start to get great are when Ock finally arrives at Grand Central Station.  It would seem that saving people has become more of a chore to Otto as he expresses dissatisfaction with how saving someone gave up his position to the enemy.  Ock is a much angrier Spider-man and I felt that this was really the first time we got to see how he will react to a villain who irritates him.  Sure, his treatment of Vulture was rather cruel and unusual, but seeing Ock behave in a similar fashion to a stranger is much more sadistic.

WARNING: Let me go ahead and say that, if you do not want the ending of Superior Spider-man #5 spoiled for you, go ahead and scroll down to the bottom and see what grade it got....because I can't talk about what makes this issue great without spoiling a few things.


A question that has plagued this book since the beginning is whether or not Ock would cross the line and actually kill a villain.  He has come very close twice before, but this is the closest Ock has every gotten.  I found myself turning through the pages of his fight with Massacre at a nervous frenzy, because it seemed that Ock was finally going to go through with it.  In fact, he even goes so far as to put a gun to Massacre's head.  While there is a panel of Ock firing the gun, we have technically not seen a body so whether Massacre is actually dead will have to remain a mystery until the next issue.  I will go ahead and say now, though, that if Dan Slott has allowed Ock to kill a villain this early on, not only will this have massive ramifications throughout the rest of Spider-man's history, but this man will get my undying respect as a comic book writer.

The other revelation which takes place in this issue is the return to the Burger Town CEO.  While we know that Ock's spider robots have been making his patrols for them, nothing seemed too sinister about them.  With Ock's revelation that he has been using these robots to spy on people and, in turn, uses the knowledge from their spying to enforce justice we see that he is nothing close to resembling your friendly neighborhood Spider-man.  I felt this was a great way to end the issue because, after five issues, we finally got a reveal of how Ock truly sees his role in Peter's body.  He is not a superhero, he is a god to rule over and judge the people of New York.  

Continuing his guest stint as artist Giuseppe Camuncoli's art improves tremendously in this issue.  I nit-picked last time around about how his interpretation of Spidey was a bit too muscular for my taste, but that was better this week.  Camuncoli's art transitions nicely from what Ryan Stegman left us with in issue 3.

Overall, the way this issue winds down in the final 25% makes up for the seemingly pointless digressions early on.  Dan Slott gives us two reveals that mark this issue as the turning point of the series, setting up the overall tone for this book from this point onward.  Pretty much my only major complaint about this issue is that the use of Peter Parker's spirit was a bit too much at times.  I understand that Peter does not approve of what Ock is doing, but I felt like there were some scenes early on in the issue where his spirit was not needed.  Other than that, this was easily the best issue of the entire series thus far.

Rating: A+

Summary: While the first third of the issue is not as strong as the rest, Superior Spider-man #5 contains enough great plot twists to make this issue extremely important.
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