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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Superior Spider-man #7

You may recall my review of the rather unspectacular Superior Spider-man Age of Ultron tie-in issue which came out last week.  Fortunately, that tie-in issue appears to be just one minor set back.  In fact, it being a tie-in issue to an event that has, thus far, had no bearing on the continuity of the rest of the comic means the issue can simply be ignored.  This week, Superior Spider-man returns to normal with Dan Slott back on writing duties and Humberto Ramos returning as artist.  Time to see if Doc Ock is once again the superior Spider-man!

Superior Spider-man #7 focuses on yet another C-list Spider-man villain with the return of the often-forgotten Cardiac.  Cardiac has been stealing technology and reforming it to help save lives in his private hospital, something which causes the Superior Spider-man to spring into action.  During all of this, Peter Parker's ghost begins to make new discoveries of how much control he has over his former body, and the Avengers have a bone to pick with the new Spidey.

Wow!  That was a mouth full!  Part of that is because quite a lot is really going on in this issue.  This week, Dan Slott tackles three story lines, two of them new, and manages to give each of them the perfect amount of attention in this issue.  It is a loaded issue, but surprisingly flows quite nicely.  This is more than can be said for a few previous issues of this series, which ended up feeling either too drawn out at some parts or some scenes being almost completely unnecessary.  Hopefully this is a sign that Slott has found his groove in writing Superior Spider-man and the book will continue to flow smoothly from now on.  

Let's begin with the first story being told in this issue: Cardiac and his secret hospital.  Except for the Vulture, it would seem that most of Doc Ock's villains during his tenure as Spider-man have been relative unknowns for new-comers.  Despite being around for 23 years, Cardiac is not a villain who would be immediately recognizable for most.  This does not really effect the story of this issue by any means, but it is still nice to see that these seemingly forgotten characters can have their time in the spotlight once again.  

Dan Slott would appear to have a penchant for tugging at your heart strings at the opportune times.  In this issue, this comes at the very beginning when we see that Cardiac is desperately in need of a piece of technology that will save the life of a child with severe brain damage.  Health care is only going to become a larger issue in the coming months and years, so it is nice to see a comic somewhat addressing the issue.  He may not have great methods, but Cardiac's heart is definitely in the right place.

Where Cardiac's story for this issue becomes interesting is the brilliant turn where we find out that the life-saving technology which he needs used to belong to one Otto Octavious.  Needless to say, Ock does not react pleasantly when he makes this discovery.  One of the things that makes this entire idea of having Ock in Peter's body great, is to see the way he reacts to situations which would only effect him were he still Doctor Octopus.  Now that we know Ock is not afraid to kill a villain if need be, it makes the tension escalate even more when he is upset.  Ock's reactions during moments such as these also help to reveal to others that something is not right with Spider-man.  The growing doubt over Spider-man due to his change in attitude also helps to bring that tension bubbling to a point that makes the comic a must read.  There has to be a moment coming where everyone is going to find out that this is not the same Spider-man, and the anticipation of that moment is palpable.

Peter's Ghost has been a character thus far in this book that is sometimes enjoyed, while also easily overused.  When Ghost Peter is on almost every single page with a joke about how Ock is doing something as Spider-man that he wouldn't, the gimmick can get a little worn out.  Although Ghost Peter takes up a significant chunk of this issue, he is actually used quite effectively this time around.  Peter is slowly beginning to take his body back, which only helps add to the aforementioned tension.  It is funny to see Peter so desperately make an effort to regain control, while the anticipation must certainly be killing readers who are eager for Peter to return.  Even better are the times when Ock actually hears Peter's voice.  While the first time is surprising, yet expected, the second time it happens in this issue is a very subtle touch.

As the cover suggests, this issue begins to lead into a conflict between Spider-man and the Avengers.  Ock may not have any real desire to work with any members of the team, but he does use his Avengers membership to help remind the world that he is a credible superhero.  The days of Spider-man being able to call himself an Avenger appear to be numbered, however, as Ock prepares to do battle with the team in the final moments of the issue.  Peter's Ghost seemingly speaks for the reader when he says that it is about time that Cap and the others begin to suspect that Spider-man is not acting like himself.  It will be interesting to see what the fallout will/could be of this conflict in books outside of Superior Spider-man.  While Cardiac's story is interesting, this turn with the Avengers is where the real meat lies, which will hopefully allow for it to get a bit more attention in the next issue.  

Perhaps the largest criticism that can be laid upon this issue is the art.  While this may be a matter of personal preference, Humberto Ramos' art is a bit too cartoon-like for a book that is anything but.  In many ways, Ramos' art looks very similar to that of John Romita Jr.  If you enjoy Romita Jr.'s art, then that may not be an issue for you.  If you do not, however, then Ramos will likely grind your gears a little bit.  Some of the splash pages of Spider-man swinging around as well as the character designs of the Avengers look quite good.  80% of the time, however, the art is just okay.

Overall, despite some issues with the art, this is still a great comic.  The writing continues to be top notch and Dan Slott cannot receive enough praise for that.  This issue makes very a good jumping on point for any who have not taken an interest in Ock's adventures as Spidey yet.  Tensions are mounting and Superior Spider-man seems poised to take us on one hell of a ride.

Rating: A-

Summary:  Despite this issue being extremely well-paced, well-written, and a good jumping on point, Superior Spider-man #7 suffers from a few art issues that keep it from being perfect.
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