I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Superior Spider-man #1

Following the events of Amazing Spider-man #700, Superior Spider-man tells the story of Otto Octavius in the body of Peter Parker/Spider-man, a villain whose evil tendencies are curbed by the presence of Peter Parker's memories. Because Octavius is an egotist second only to Doctor Doom, he believes that he is better both at being Peter Parker and Spider-man than his predecessor, hence the title Superior Spider-man. This first issue shows Otto's disgust at the formation of a new Sinister Six, a bush league hodgepodge of b-villains who have the nerve of disgracing a team that Doctor Octopus was once a part of.

If you have read the events leading up to this event, you know that Dan Slott has been planning this transformation for quite some time. As a matter of fact, Peter Parker's switch from photographer to scientist was the perfect predecessor for Otto Octavius's switch from Doctor Octopus to Spider-man. If you've read Amazing Spider-man then you will not be surprised at how great the writing is in this issue. The Sinister Six story-line creates a perfect frame to show how Otto operates as Spider-man, as Peter Parker the scientist, and as Peter Parker the current boyfriend of Mary Jane Watson.

But the best part about having Dan Slott at the writing helm is the dialogue. When Otto attacks the "archaic" Living Brain, the robot mixes emotion with logic by screaming, "Query: Why was unit programmed with pain receptors? Whyyyy?" Subsequently, Grady Scraps refers to the Living Brain as, "the Super Nintendo of robots." And finally, how can you beat the fact that Octavius's laundry list of the pros of being Peter Parker ends with a drawing of Mary Jane in a sexy dress from the neck down and the line, "Yes. Peter Parker's life will suit me just fine. And the best part about it? The view."

I actually met the artist Ryan Stegman at the Cherry Capital Con in Traverse City, Michigan in May of 2012. At the time he had just announced that he would be drawing for Fantastic Four soon, a project that we all soon realized would be short-lived because Hickman was giving Fantastic Four and FF over to a new creative team shortly after Avengers vs. X-Men concluded. I got Stegman to autograph a comic for me and we got into a conversation about comic book art. I told him that if I were an artist I'd be one of those big muscle, big boobs kind of artists. His response: "I guess you could say that's my style." In a panel, he said that he has always loved drawing Spider-man, so I wasn't surprised to see him on this book. His art is fantastic, and I hope they keep him on for a while.

There was a certain Jedi ghost appearance at the end of this issue that has people very unhappy. I am riding the fence on this issue. Without spoiling too much, I will say that I knew something like this was going to happen, especially because a certain octobot wasn't destroyed. But the way it has come about seems a little weird, and I'm not sure I like the depiction of the aforementioned Jedi ghost.

Superior Spider-man is well on its way to being the best new comic of 2013, and the best comic book of 2013. When you start adding adjectives to the titles of your super hero, you write a check that will some day need to be cashed. This comic is already living up to the name Superior. May it continue to do so.

I've syndicated this review at Examiner. You can read it here. If you click on it a few times, spend some time there, or navigate to a new page, I might get some money. But I'm only asking that of you if you liked reading the article here and want to show your appreciation.

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