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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Superior Spider-man #10

It is a new dawn on a new day over at Superior Spider-man.  Are you still finding yourself upset that any last remnants of Peter Parker are now gone, leaving Otto Octavius the sole soul in Peter's body?  If so, it would seem you're just going to have to deal with it as it would seem the Superior Spider-man is here to stay for the foreseeable future.  In our review of the previous issue of Superior Spider-man, we here at Geek Rex hailed the issue as not only one of the best of the series, but the best comic of that week.  Now it is time to see how Otto establishes himself as Peter Parker without any interference from Ghost Peter (yay!).  So, how did this issue turn out compared to the previous one?  As always, you're just going to have to keep reading to find out!

Superior Spider-man #10 seemingly picks up the next morning after Otto Octavius has effectively deleted Peter Parker's memories from his brain.  So how does Otto celebrate the occasion?  By taking out some super villains of course!  But, as Otto begins to settle back into his role as Spider-man, can he truly become Peter Parker without anyone taking notice?  Also, things may not remain so hunky-dory as Spidey either as the Green Goblin is back in town and looking to take down his arch-nemesis once and for all.

Easily one of the things which makes Superior Spider-man an excellent comic to read is the way in which Otto has completely re-imagined what it means to be Spider-man.  Through the use of various technologies and the cooperation of the mayor and police, Otto is able to be so much more efficient at crime fighting than Peter ever was.  Seeing Otto strategize his next move makes for some of the more interesting inner-monologues in the comic.  This issue is no different on this front and, after an issue which focused so much on Otto's internal struggle against Peter, it was great to be able to see him be Spider-man once again.  Dan Slott continues to put C and D level Spider-man villains into the comic for Otto to fight with this issue seeing him take on the likes of White Dragon and The Owl.  If you found yourself asking "who?" just now, don't worry, all you really need to know is that these two villains have risen in the ranks to leading their own gangs.  As usual with gangs, The Owl and White Dragon are in the midst of a turf war over who controls the drugs on the street.  Instead of just jumping into the fray as Peter might have done, Otto instead makes the intriguing decision to stay back and let these two forces pick each other off before swinging in to deliver the final blow.  Not only do these scenes show off just how masterfully Otto has taken over the role of Spider-man, but they also feature some of the funnier moments of the entire issue.  How does Otto respond to being interrupted by monologuing? By punching White Dragon in the throat, of course!  It is really a thrill to see Otto truly own this role, but what it really ends up doing is make for some interesting tension behind the mask.

As with any super hero, Spider-man is also drawn back from the action at times due to the necessity of having a secret identity.  No character in all of comic books struggles with this double life more than Peter Parker.  While Otto behaves pompously about being Peter in this issue, it becomes quite obvious that he may not have as good a handle on being the man as he does on being the hero.  Sure, Otto is working to gain Peter his doctorate so he can be called "doctor" once again, and he generally seems to be just as dedicated in his personal life as he is to his super hero antics, but he just does not come off as natural in normal conversation as he does when wearing those tights.  With each issue of Superior Spider-man, more and more people begin to question the actions of Spidey, though most have shrugged it off as small misgivings with his morals are nothing if he is actually doing his job correctly.  In this issue, however, the pivotal move is made in the story where Mary Jane begins to question the way both Spider-man AND Peter have been acting.  MJ joins Carlie as two people who could potentially expose the Freaky Friday switcheroo that has happened here.  Although Otto's life as Peter is not nearly as interesting, especially his recent love affair with a classmate, what makes this aspect of the comic intriguing is when exactly this tension is going to mount just enough to expose the truth.  It is a great move on Dan Slott's part as it completely eliminates the need for Ghost Peter at all.  Though the events of the previous issue will certainly have a huge effect on how MJ's discovery of this truth may unfold.

A conflict which has been teased before in this comic, but is brought up one again in this issue, is the inevitable fight between the Superior Spider-man and the Green Goblin.  Anytime the Green Goblin rolls into town, the first question on everyone's lips is always about who is under the mask.  If anything, this issue proves that it does not matter at all who is wearing the Goblin's mask because what he is putting together is so much more fascinating than his (or her) identity.    After taking down the heads of the major mob families in New York (in just one day, one might add), Otto leaves a lot of minions and flunkies in his wake.  These men are lost, with nowhere to turn.  More importantly, these men are absolutely terrified of this new attitude Spider-man has and they know that it is only a matter of time before he tracks them down and takes them out like he has done to their respective bosses.  Who better to take advantage of this fear to manipulate these straggling members into becoming one large gang than the Green Goblin.  It isn't just about throwing pumpkin bombs and causing havoc anymore, though those things certainly do happen.  No, instead the Goblin is putting together an army and it would seem he is going to be waging all out war against the Superior Spider-man.  With this issue, we get the first strokes of that war as the Goblin figures out a way to hack into Otto's spider-bots and he uses the Vulture's reformed sidekicks to attack MJ's club (again).  Although not a lot of hints are dropped as to what the Green Goblin has in store for Otto, it would seem things are shaping up for a huge showdown.  Calling himself the Goblin King to his followers, this particular fight between Spider-man and the Goblin may make for one of their best.

Reading through this review, it may become obvious that quite a lot is happening in this issue. One of the things which made the previous issue so fantastic is that it had a singular focus: the mental struggle between Peter and Otto.  This issue returns to more of what we have come to expect from Superior Spider-man: several plot threads being developed at once, with very few of them connecting for the time being.  Most comic writers would not be able to handle such a heavy load of stories and even more comic readers would become exhausted with the amount of exposition going on.  Somehow, though, Dan Slott is able to handle these stories quite well, and does a good job of keeping all the plates spinning.  That being said, it would be nice to see the comic go back to having a bit more focus on one or two plot threads.  While Slott does a good job of weaving in and out of several stories, it is a bit tiring and it does end up with more than a few threads feeling under-served.  When this comic is good, though, it is really good and that is something which should be kept in mind.  Slott writes Spider-man in a way which is appealing to many, but also draws the ire of a lot of comic book fans.  If Superior Spider-man could spend just a little bit less time juggling so many stories, it just may be able to prove to any nay-sayers that the book is a must-read.

Ryan Stegman is back on art for this issue, and he does a masterful job of it too.  With so many things happening in this issue, it would be very easy for the art to become just as muddled.  Stegman is thankfully able to avoid such pitfalls.  If this is your first time reading the series, Stegman's art may be a bit jarring.  His art takes some getting used to as it is a bit too cartoonish at times, but, once one is properly acclimated to his style, it really becomes quite clear how strong of an artist Stegman is.  Dan Slott writes Spider-man in a way which is very reminiscent of the Lee/Ditko era at times and Stegman's art meshes quite well with that writing style.

Overall, this issue is not nearly as fantastic as the one preceding it.  That being said, there is a lot happening in Superior Spider-man right now which makes it a fun read.  How Otto handles being Spider-man and the ways that conflicts with his life as Peter is immensely engaging.  Otto's double life has completely different ramifications than Peter's, so it is interesting to see the way those two compare.  Dan Slott does a good job of dropping some hints here for an upcoming conflict with the Green Goblin that could become one of the better arcs in the series.  If some improvements can be made in terms of the number of plot threads being developed in each issue, this could become even more so a comic worth remembering for decades to come.

Rating: A

Summary: Though not as great as the previous issue, Superior Spider-man #10 still has a lot going for it which makes it a good comic.  A few issues with the juggling of storylines is seemingly the only obstacle keeping this from being a great comic.
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