More revelations and big events as the series looks towards its conclusion
I was pleasantly surprised to see Superior Spider-Man high up on a number of critic’s best of 2013 lists. While the creators aren’t exactly doing anything “new” with the reversal of a villain in a hero’s costume (I re-read Kraven’s Last Hunt over Christmas and was surprised how many elements that story had in common with this one), they certainly are giving the plot a fresh approach. The series is a breath of fresh air in the way we follow superheroes on a monthly. A few months ago I compared it to the great anti-hero TV shows like Breaking Bad. This issue marks the end of the penultimate story in the Superior Spider-Man’s saga and it further illustrates why we will miss this series when it’s gone in a few short months.
Doc Ock has had his reckoning coming for some time now. What at first started as a character toeing the line between good and evil, has come much closer to that line of villainy in the last several chapters.
Finally his ego has gotten the better of him and he takes the Venom symbiote as his own, thinking himself smart and powerful enough to control the unpredictable creature. The result is a rampaging Superior Venom that has to be shut down by the Avengers.
The smackdown between the Superior Venom and the Avengers is tremendous. I’ve been a huge Humberto Ramos fan for a long time, and while I can understand why some people don’t like his exaggerated style, I love it. And it works particularly well in conveying the incredible scope of the Thor fighting a hulked-out Venom.
It’s that grand scale that I’ve always found most interesting about this series. Not just in the fighting, but also in the character drama. While the massive fight is happening Flash Thompson is dying and the Goblin army is pulling in new recruits and starting a war with the original Hobgoblin. What many writers seem to lose track of is that Spider-Man isn’t simply a solo book, it’s an ensemble. And all of the supporting characters are just as important to the story as Peter Parker. Dan Slott gets that and he nails it every month.
The one area that Slott continues to struggle in though is the dialogue. Lines can sometimes be overly expository or just plain cheesy. Those lines come across as relics of another era of Spider-Man. Knowing the love Slott has for those old eras, I get the feeling that some of the old-timey dialogue may be intentional, but they don’t work for me regardless.
The end of the issue (spoiler warning) also could turn out to be somewhat troublesome. It is revealed that Peter Parker’s “ghost” has been monitoring Doc Ock the entire time, and not destroyed as we had previously been led to believe. This means that Peter Parker stood idly by and did nothing as Otto killed a couple villains and brutally injured others, while only finally acting in order to preserve his own body. On the surface it doesn’t seem very heroic. I’ll give Slott the benefit of the doubt to reveal his whole hand at a later date and judge this development fully then.
Overall, a few dialogue and Peter Parker related issues aside, this issue was another welcome chapter in the Superior Spider-Man story and a thrilling beginning to the end.
Dan Slott (W), Humberto Ramos (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99, January, 15, 2013