Superior Spider-Man #18 was just okay.
I’ve been loving Dan Slott’s take on the Superior Spider-Man. While I love Peter Parker with all my heart, I thought that this drastic change in the hero’s dynamic made the stories fresh and interesting without corrupting the essence of the character. Rather than reading Spider-Man books to see the things Peter would be encountering next, I started reading to see how this new Spider-Man was going to react to the things he encountered. That said, I was very excited to see how Doc Ock was going to react to the Spider-Man of 2099.
Maybe this is due to the amount of hype surrounding the event, but I wasn’t particularly blown away by this issue. The story was a fairly by-the-books time travel story where a hero from the future comes back to the present to prevent an event that alters his future. The Superior Spider-Man was his old grouchy, dismissive self and wound up taking a back seat for most of the story’s major plot developments. 2099’s actions seemed very frantic and reactionary (which, to the story’s credit, is what you would expect). The book’s two leads wound up reacting to too much too quickly to make the reader really gravitate towards them.
The most interesting characters in this issue were Peter/Ock’s coworkers at Horizon. Their personalities felt more developed and their voices were stronger. It was their actions and conversations that moved the story forward and unveiled new information to the reader. Their back and forth felt like natural dialogue in a book full of info dumps and angry shouting.
The art was very reminiscent of the 90s style that originally spawned Spider-Man 2099. Stegman’s line work was detailed, dynamic, in-your-face, and busy. If a page didn’t have speed lines, it had something glowing brightly. The book took on a very frantic energy, which lent to the forward motion and tension in the action scenes, but took away from the interesting bits with the cast of Horizon Labs. The figures themselves looked great though. Stegman’s style lends itself well to the tough and lethal look of Superior, 2099, and the Goblin characters.
All in all the book was on par with the issues that preceded it, though I expected it to raise the bar a bit. In a story like this, where two Spider-Men are at odds with one another, a reader hopes to see dynamic battles with crazy powers and aerial acrobatics. Instead, we get a couple of short scraps where both combatants are standing on the ground, and trade slashes with each other.
Still, this issue did raise the stakes and tease some larger developments that will likely pay off in the next few issues.
Dan Slott (W), Ryan Stegman (A) • Marvel Comics, $3.99, September 18, 2013.