Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Superior Spider-Man issues #1 and #2

Greetings once more citizens! It is now time for my first review, but first, some backstory.

I don’t think it’s an unreasonable assumption that just about everyone is familiar with Spider-Man. Between fifty years of comics, numerous TV series, and two different film series, his place in the public consciousness is well cemented. I also don’t feel it’s a stretch that people are at least passingly familiar with one of Spidey’s archenemies, Doctor Otto Octavius, better known as Doctor Octopus.

In the events leading up to The Amazing Spider-Man #700, it was revealed that Doc Ock was dying. Being a reasonable man, Ock had his lawyer draw up a will, contacted his loved ones and said his goodbyes, and made peace with his fate.

Nah, just kidding! He decided to go to the ol’ mad scientist playbook, and bring out one of the classics; the mind-swap. But Ock, having an ego that would feel cramped inside of a major league ballpark, decided that not just any body would do for his staggering intellect. No, he not only wanted to cheat death, he wanted to do it while utterly defeating his archnemesis, Spider-Man.

So Ock kidnapped Spidey, and surprisingly, the mind swap went off without a hitch. However, there was an unexpected snag. Part of the plan was that Ock would gain Spidey’s memories, so that he would be able to impersonate him better. He gained the memories, but he also gained perspective. He understood why Spidey did what he did, and he actually felt compelled to continue being Spider-Man, even if it was not what he wanted to do.

However, he was still Otto Octavius, and if he was going to be Spider-Man, he would be a better Spider-Man. A Superior Spider-Man.

The comic opens with a man in shadow in a graveyard. In the next panel, we learn that the grave belongs to Otto Octavius. It seems kinda odd that such a new gravestone is already cracked and leaning heavily, but I guess Ock didn’t really have a will, so they cheaped out on the burial. The narration has “Peter” telling us that he’s saying goodbye to his old life, and that he is fully embracing Peter’s dual-identity. He overhears a police report on his headset, and the scene changes to what the call was about; a super-crime in progress.

The group of villains are stealing a scientific device, and the cops aren’t having much luck stopping them, in spite of the fact that their getaway vehicle is a freaking big wheel. Sure, it’s a highly advanced big wheel, but it’s still a big wheel. It didn’t work out well for General Grievous, and I can’t imagine it’ll work out well for them. Anyway, as they’re leaving, Boomerang proclaims that their group is the new Sinister Six.

Now, the Sinister Six is one of those teams that’s had a lot of different incarnations, but it’s always been made up of members of Spidey’s rogue’s gallery, and it was founded by Doc Ock. Understandably, Ock-Spidey is incredulous that these losers are calling themselves that, as he swings in to presumably take them down, although it looks like he left his right leg back in the graveyard…

The fight begins, with Ock-Spidey keeping up the tradition of bantering during battles, though he seems less witty than Peter, and more dismissive. The Living Brain actually asks one of the immortal questions of robots in fiction, and it’s good to see that Dan Slott’s humor is just fine.

Next page, and Ock-Spidey starts having difficulty with Speed Demon. Super speed can be a tricky power to overcome, but surely with Ock’s intelligence, he should be able to-

Wait, what? He’s leaving!? Oh come on Ock! I thought you were committed to this gig! Fortunately for us, Boomerang realizes that if Spidey runs off, he doesn’t get to be in a comic anymore and throws a boomerang after him. It’s an easy dodge, but when the boomerang turns around, it heads straight for an officer. At this point, it seems Ock-Spidey is remembering what he’s –supposed- to be doing and protects the guy. Boomerang, continuing to be a moron, decides to go and try to slit Ock-Spidey’s throat, and gets cut up himself for his trouble. Finally realizing that their goal’s been accomplished and everyone is waiting on him, he gets in the ridiculous getaway vehicle and the villains flee. The cop thanks Ock-Spidey, and says he and the other cops will do anything they can for him. He decides to call in the favor immediately and asks to have the Living Brain delivered to Horizon Labs.

Horizon Labs is where Peter is working, as some kind of scientist (I’ve actually never been too clear on what field of science Peter studies). And is it just me, or does Pete look an awful lot like Doctor Horrible with how he’s dressed?

Anyway, he’s trying to find out any info he can about the “Sinister” Six from the Living Brain’s files when his boss Max Modell comes in. Modell expresses his concern that Pete has been working with a lot of mad-scientist type stuff, but Ock-Pete just tells him that the work he’s doing is revolutionary and shows him some of his work, which placates Max. He then briefly has an internal angst moment of how his great works will be attributed to Peter Parker instead of Otto Octavius before Mary Jane calls. She’s making sure they’re still on for their date tonight, to which Ock-Pete assures her that they are. And then next page-

Good to know Ock is enjoying his new, younger body…

Normally this kind of panel would bug me, since I don’t read comics to see T&A. I have the internet for that. But I actually think that this panel’s appropriate, since it shows Ock-Pete’s priorities with MJ. They talk for a bit, and MJ seems to pick up on how he’s acting a little off, but doesn’t really bring it up. Ock-Pete apparently injected some nano-tracers into Boomerang when he scratched him earlier, and is listening in on the Sinister Six’s planning session.

We cut to later and the Sinister Six is executing their plan. It seems to go off without a hitch until they turn to leave, and find themselves boxed in by webs. The Six (or five I guess, since Living Brain’s back in Ock-Pete’s lab, man their name just does not fit) try to take out Spidey, but he’s got a counter for all their abilities. He takes out four of them, barely breaking a sweat, and we see that he also called the press, so that they could get footage of him being awesome. He avoids Boomerang’s last feeble attack, and then Boomerang surrenders. However… Ock’s not really used to winning. It’s a new thing for him, and so he doesn’t really act like the hero he’s supposed to be impersonating. He starts violently beating Boomerang, and is about to kill him, when suddenly we see a ghostly hand grab his wrist. It seems the real Pete’s not quite gone from his body yet, and still has at least a little control. In the final panel, we see Real-Pete vowing that he’ll get his body back.

Issue two begins with the press swarming Spidey, thanking him for his work and such, including mayor Jonah Jameson. Ghost-Pete is understandably incredulous that Jameson decides to wait for him to be dead before he tries to make nice with Spider-Man, before cutting to MJ talking to Carlie (a Spidey supporting character I was not familiar with before this series) and saying how she thinks her and Pete are getting back together.

After that we cut to “Lunch with the Watson woman.” Ah, Ock, you charmer, you. While Ock-Pete and MJ say hi, Ghost-Pete continues to be incredulous about how nobody notices the difference and pleading for divine intervention. Well Pete, maybe if you hadn’t made a deal with the devil, divine intervention would be more forthcoming. Anyway, the date gets cut short and Ock decides that being interrupted in the middle of things is a dumb way of finding out about emergencies. Back in his lab, we see that he has created a Spider-bot in order to do patrols of the city for him, and instructs the Living Brain (which he’s turned into a lab assistant) to create another eight hundred.

Later, we see that Ock is trying to have lunch with MJ again, and he explains that he doesn’t need to do patrols anymore. He’s got his bots all along his usual patrol routes and simply by checking an app he created (which he does a “thwip” sound effect for, nice) he can see if there’s anything that requires his attention. Which is actually a really good idea (as both Ghost-Pete and MJ state), since it gives him more time that he can devote to things beyond swinging around hoping to spot a crime in progress. Like dating MJ, as we see in the next couple pages. He gets absolutely nowhere with her for a bit, until he hits on the idea of going web-swinging with her. She says she’d invite him in, but she has Carlie staying with her. Now, I didn’t know this at the time because I hadn’t read the Amazing Spider-Man issues leading up to this series, but Carlie actually knows that it’s not Pete but Ock. She hasn’t told anyone yet though, because all she has is her suspicions and the dying words of Peter in Ock’s body, and doesn’t want anyone to think she’s nuts. I mean, a genius super villain swapping brains with a superhero? In a world with super-advanced technology, shapeshifters, and magic are all semi-common? Inconceivable!

Anyway, back to the comic, Ock gets the boot and bemoans his lack of gettin’ any before he realizes he doesn’t need to have sex with MJ per se. Instead, much to Peter’s revulsion, he decides to relive all of Peter’s memories of the two of them together before getting a real good night’s sleep after some implied wanking.

And man oh man, that must’ve been a damn good wank, because in the morning he’s singing in the shower, walking in a highly exaggerated manner while whistling, flirts with a coworker (poorly) and just in general acts like the sun is shining out of his own ass. Before it can get any sillier, he is interrupted by his patrol app alerting him to a disturbance at MJ’s club and swings into action, with Ghost-Pete swinging after him. I find it funny that he actually swings behind Ock with ghost webs.

Little bird people are causing the disturbance, because as it turns out, MJ’s club used to be the Vulture’s hideout. And she knew this when she bought the place. That uh… that strikes me as incredibly stupid. I mean, honestly, WHY would you buy a supervillain hideout, unless there was a specific reason for it, like you wanted to try and get something they may have hidden in there (which is why the bird guys are there), or if you wanted to spite them. Anyway, the minions get the thing they were sent for, and attempt to drop MJ to her doom, but Ock manages to get there in time to save her. He’s about to get a reward kiss when he tells her no. He realizes that being with MJ is only going to put her in more danger, and so to keep her safe, he has to move on with his life and she does too. The comic ends with MJ and Carlie talking about how MJ needs to move on, and Carlie needs to get back to her job with the police, because there’s at least one mystery she needs to solve.

Personally, I think the first two issues are really solid. It’s an interesting premise, and presented in a plausible way (relative to the universe, of course). The artwork is solid, though there are some instances where Ock-Peter’s face looks a little too exaggerated (particularly while on his date with MJ in the first issue). The writing is also solid, though there were a couple hiccups for me since I wasn’t a regular Spider-Man reader before hand, but even with those I found it fairly easy to get into the book, as well as enjoy it. There’s plenty of story material for several beginning arcs, with Ock trying to adjust to Peter’s life, Peter vowing to regain his body, and Carlie planning on delving into the whole mess. It was solid enough for me to keep reading, and next time, I’ll be going over the next two issues in the series.

So, that’s the first review! What did you think? Any suggestions?

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