With all the news about the Punisher trailer dropping I decided to take a bit of a break from my anti-hero focus and talk about a series that I loved no matter what anyone says, and that would be the Superior Spider-Man run.
For those unfamiliar with the run it was the direct sequel to Amazing Spider-Man #700 in which Dr. Octopus transfers his consciousness with Peter’s (goes full Freaky Friday) and becomes Spider-Man. Before Peter dies in Ock’s body he attempts to right what has been done to him with the help of a few villains. Ock in Spider-Man’s body becomes enraged when the Scorpion attacks Aunt May and punches his lower jaw hard enough to separate it from his body. When the transfer fails, Ock reveals that he placed shielding on the back of his head to prevent a transfer again. Ock proceeds to pummel his old body to the point of death and Peter uses their connection via the Octobot (the device that started the whole thing) to flood Octavius’ mind with his memories and loss he has experienced becoming the Spider-Man he was. Ock has an epiphany realizing how wrong he was and vows that Peter isn’t leaving the mantle of Spider-Man to a villain. Ock then destroys his former identity as Doctor Octopus and redesigns the Spider suit vowing to be a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, vowing to become the Superior Spider-Man.
Alright now that the prologue to the series is done I’m going to jump into the things that I felt worked and the ones that didn’t. There will be spoilers for the run so if you want to read it yourself spoiler free then stop reading now.
WHAT I LIKED
#1 – The Suit
The first thing that I will say really blew me away was the redesign of the suit. Initially at the beginning of the run he wears that classic suit just recoloured with the talons and the mechanical eyes. Later on, he redesigns the whole suit to the Superior look. When he added the mechanical arms, that was too much like Doc Ock pretending to be Spider-Man for me, but I understood why he did it and how it was a necessary step in his development as a character. But the redesign with the red and black over tones, along with the bigger mechanical looking eyes really made the whole costume come together. But probably my favourite piece of the whole suit were the retractable talons. They really added a more animalistic look to the whole suit and when used to deliver tracking nanobots they were easily the best piece of the suit. The redesign of the Web shooters to operate on the outside of the suit was also a great addition.
#2 – The Story
The story of Superior Spider-Man involves quite a few very prominent villains for the most part but the overall plot involving the Green Goblin/Goblin King was really cool. The entire series Spider-Man is vexed by his regular rogues gallery while every issue we are treated to a few panels of the Goblin King recruiting. By the time the Goblin King makes his move he has a veritable army of followers and they quickly take control over large sections of the city. Most notable villains that he comes up against are the vulture, Scorpion, the Sinister Six, Hobgoblin, Spider Slayer, and Massacre. Not only does the story show how much Otto changes during his run as Spider-man but it also shows the lengths he’s willing to go, by executing Massacre. The whole world, including the Avengers knew there was something different about Spider-Man. Not only do the Avengers attempt to subdue him and find out what’s wrong but he actually fights them off single handedly. He also establishes a Spider Island and hires henchmen to be his arach-naughts.
I will say that while the whole story was pretty awesome the one thing you saw coming was Peter eventually retaking his body. Throughout the run we are shown that Peter appears as an astral projection that only Otto can see and hear, but Peter influences a lot of what Otto does while trying to find a way to take his body back. When Otto ultimately sacrifices himself to allow Peter full control over his body it shows how full circle becoming the hero changed Otto for the better.
#3 – Spider-Man 2099
A large part of the second half of the run involves the arrival of Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara) from the future to stop the rise of the tech conglomerate that is the main antagonist in his timeline. A colleague at Horizon Labs builds a time portal and Spider-Man 2099 arrives through it sent by Alchemex from his own timeline. Otto attacks O’Hara believing him to be an imposter, they battle to a stalemate with O’Hara fleeing without Otto being able to track him. While the main story progresses O’Hara ends up working as an assistant to his eventual arch enemy due to him being stranded in this timeline. The climax of the run shows Peter restored and in control of his body working with O’Hara to stop the Alchemex mechs, save the city from the Goblin King, save Anna Maria, and return O’Hara to his own timeline. I think the reason I like this part so much is because of the suit O’Hara has. Blue with a red skull, talons, and a small web cape, just looks awesome no matter what timeline he’s in.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
#1 – HOW NOBODY NOTICED HE WAS DIFFERENT
The entire run of the series shows Otto burning old bridges with long time allies and friends and forging a new relationship with Anna Maria. The Avengers aren’t even able to discern that someone other than Peter is Spider-Man. The only person the entire series who truly believes something is different is Carlie Cooper (Peter’s ex-girlfriend and knower of the Spider-Man identity) and when she figures it out; she is kidnapped by the Goblin King and dosed with Goblin serum which changes her into “Monster”. The Avengers conduct every test they have to try and see if someone has impersonated or taken over Spider-Man, and they come up empty handed. The biggest tell though, is the language he uses. If you read other Avengers comics with Spider-Man he talks like a cocky kid and his one liners rival Deadpool. The Superior Spider-Man uses language that a pompous narcissist would use and nobody notices. This is one of the things that irked me about the whole run. That and like seriously… he made 4 mechanical spider arms and nobody thought “Oh maybe something isn’t right… that looks like something Doc Ock would do” and then they all come to this conclusion”… but Ock is dead so it obviously couldn’t be him” like COME ON!
#2 – Hobgoblin/Goblin Knight
So one of the side plots for the run is the constant appearance of the Hobgolin, and not even the real one. So turns out the original Hobgoblin has retired (kind of) from his criminal ways, now he only provides a means rather than committing the crime himself. What I mean to say is that the original Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley “actually Daniel Kingsley impersonating Roderick”) is selling villain personas and costumes to people for profit. Phil Urich (Nephew of famed Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich) purchased the Hobgoblin persona and uses it to finance his life while recording himself committing crimes to write stories for the paper.. Ya… it’s really weird. Anyways, Hobgoblin is in the employ of Kingpin and acts as an enforcer. When Spider-Man attacks Shadowland (of Daredevil Fame) with his arach-naughts and arach-tanks, Kingpin fakes his death and the Hobgoblin flees. Tiberius Stone sabotages the Hobgoblin ruining him and Spider-Man ousts Phil Urich as the Hobgoblin. Phil takes Norah Winters as a hostage to escape the Bugle but Spider-Man arrives and defeats him. Urich is broken out of jail by Menace and taken to the Goblin King in the sewers of NY. Goblin King annoints him as Goblin Knight and provides him with a new costume and armour.
The whole thing is just extra plot for the sake of making more henchmen for the Goblin King. They could’ve had him be ruined and give it up and that’s it but no, they carried it on making it drag through the last volumes until Peter Parker kicks his butt.
#3 – The Spider Island/Spider HQ
Okay this goes hand in hand with how do people not notice he is not Peter Parker. HE MAKES HIMSELF AN HQ AND HIRES AN ARMY OF HENCHMEN!! HE BUILD MASSIVE TANKS AND LEADS AN OFFENSIVE AGAINST SHADOWLAND!!! COME ON!!! YOU’RE TELLING ME NOBODY THOUGHT HE WAS A LITTLE DIFFERENT?!?!?
Side bar the Avengers thought something was different but they were more concerned with his brutal punishments rather THAN HIS FREAKING ARMY AND TANKS!!!
Okay, I’m done ranting about his army and spidertanks.
Minus the few things that I brought up about not liking the whole story arc was very well put together. Dan Slott did a great job with this run I only wish they had somehow kept this Spider-Man alive in a different universe just so we could see how far things would go before someone actually noticed and ousted Doc Ock as Spider-Man.
This story is definitely a must read for any Spider-Man fan and would add to any collection. I know i bought it all and have read it several times over. I didn’t even mention the venom part of the run or the final act because I wanted to keep somethings spoiler free. Regardless of who is in the body though Spider-Man always shows us that with great power comes great responsibility.