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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Superior Spider-man #6 AU



In case you were unaware, Marvel is in this midst of its long-awaited Age of Ultron event.  Unfortunately for me, Age of Ultron  has taken a bit too long to come to fruition.  After the sometimes good, most of the time mediocre Avengers vs X-men I decided to skip Age of Ultron, no matter how much Marvel tried to tempt me with "secret endings that only 4 people know the final pages of!"  But what has to happen to me?  Not one, but two of the Marvel books I read crossover with Age of Ultron!  So, without further ado, here is my look at the Age of Ultron tie-in issue of Superior Spider-man.

Taking over the body of Peter Parker, Doctor Otto Octavious (Doc Ock) has made it his mission to be an all around better Spider-man than Peter ever was.  When the evil robot Ultron brings down New York City, this causes Otto to take action.  With a desire to bend Ultron to his will, Otto begrudgingly teams up with Tony Stark to attempt a plan to rid Earth of Ultron once and for all.



Let me start off this review by saying there are a lot of things about this issue that confuse the Hell out of me.  I believe the best way to start is by covering, briefly, some of the events of Superior Spider-man #6 (which I did not review for this website).  After killing the villain known as Massacre, Ock made the full turn to a Spider-man without any empathy whatsoever.  Despite doing something the "real" Spider-man would never do, most did not take a huge issue with him killing Massacre as the villain had already caused so much damage to begin with.  One group, however, did take notice: The Avengers.  Ock seems to have completely abandoned even trying to fill the role of Spider-man as Peter did, becoming a very dark, serious Spidey.  When a harmless prank is played on this new Spider-man, Ock almost murders the pranksters.  This action causes everyone to react with disgust towards Spider-man and for The Avengers to remove Spider-man from the team.

Sounds pretty cool, right?  It was a great issue, perhaps the darkest of the series thus far.  Then this little book comes along.  While I have zero interest in reading the events of Age of Ultron, I was not too upset by having to read a tie-in as I did the same thing with events like Fear Itself and found it to be a mostly harmless experience.  What should have been my first clue that this would not be the same is that Dan Slott, writer for Superior Spider-man, did not pen this issue.  Instead writing duties for this story went to Christos Gage.  While Gage does a decent enough job, it would seem he has not been reading any of the previous issues of Superior Spider-man.

On a very basic level, this issue is a pretty decent introduction to the series of Superior Spider-man for anyone reading Age of Ultron who had not yet picked up the book.  The opening pages of this issue establish Otto in Peter's body as well as his whole perspective on the invasion of Ultron into New York.  While these moments may be a good way to introduce the character to new readers, I would not encourage this issue as a jumping on point by any means.  Christos Gage, in one issue, completely ignores any of the continuity established in the first six issues of the book.

Perhaps what is so confusing about this tie-in issue is when exactly these events are taking place.  I understood that the Age of Ultron was a story being told, but, up until this point, things have been business as usual in all of the Marvel books I read.  It may be a bit too much to ask Marvel to establish when Age of Ultron is taking place (especially since next week's Superior Spider-man #7 has nothing to do with the event), but maybe they are wanting to answer such a question in the way the event unfolds.  As Ultron has seemingly destroyed all of New York, it perhaps goes without saying that every comic not producing a tie-in takes place either before or after the event.  I do not have a problem with an event taking place within its own little bubble, but I do have a problem when that bubble expands and attempts to adjust the continuity of other books to suit its own needs.

So how is the continuity changed so much in this issue?  Lets take a look back at the opening pages of this issue.  While they do a good job of introducing Otto as Spider-man, they have him showing something he has otherwise completely lost in the series: compassion.  Otto worries about whether Aunt May or Mary Jane are okay, people he has not taken an interest in since the third issue of this series.  Perhaps the biggest misstep in this issue is having Otto team up with members of The Avengers.  Superior Spider-man #6 came out one week ago.  That means that, not one week after we are told Spider-man is off The Avengers.  In fact, some Avengers will be moving in to stop him.  Yet, in this issue, Spider-man is suddenly okay to help out the team.  Such blatant ignorance of the continuity of just the previous issue makes this tie-in a real head-scratcher.

While there are a lot of things this issue gets completely wrong, there are a few things it actually does pretty well.  I will give Christos Gage credit that the story for this issue, continuity issues aside, is somewhat interesting.  As Otto had control of his robotic arms as a super villain, it would make sense that he would seek to control Ultron (something he boasts even Doctor Doom was capable of doing).  The way Otto dispatches of some of Ultron's drones is actually quite cool, and was one of the strongest moments artistically for guest artist Dexter Soy.  It was also neat to see Otto finally have a plan fail him as Spider-man.  I was actually glad to see Christos Gage have this happen.  Unfortunately, the way this book wraps up only continues to further the continuity issues. 

Overall, there were quite a few aspects of this issue that made it readable.  While the art was, at times, lacking, there are not really any huge issues there.  Ultimately this issue boils down to the continuity issues mentioned above.  I would be willing to forgive Otto's sudden compassion for Aunt May and MJ, but not completely ignoring what was established not one week ago.  If you are reading Age of Ultron and are curious to know how the Superior Spider-man is reacting, then by all means buy this issue.  If you have been following this series or are looking to jump on board, avoid this issue at all costs.


Grade: D+

Summary:  While Superior Spider-man #6 AU does some good things, it ultimately does nothing but contradict the continuity established in the series thus far.  Stay far, far away from this issue. 
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