Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Superior Spider-Man Issues #9 & #10

Greetings once again, citizens! This week, we continue to look at Superior Spider-Man, with issues 9 and 10.

I haven’t really talked about covers before, and there’s a reason for that; none of the covers for Superior Spider-Man have been all that noteworthy. They’re all just kind of generic shots of Spidey doing whatever a spider can. And also kissing a very surprised looking Mary Jane, pretty sure spiders can’t kiss. This one however is actually pretty neat.

Instead of going with the usual look for the title, they spell it out in the brain ridges. We can see a shadowy version of Doc Ock near the back of the brain, and Peter is up in the front, looking trapped and also like he did back when he made his debut instead of the more modern look. It’s eye-catching, makes you wonder what in the blue hell is up with it if you’re not reading the series, and symbolically tells you what’s going to be the focus of the book. Overall, pretty good.

This issue also has a different penciler than the previous ones. I didn’t have any real problem with Humberto Ramos’ art, but there were some moments where it just looked damned weird. We’re back to having art done by Ryan Stegman, the artist from issues 1-3. Though the artist has changed a couple times, the colorist has been Edgar Delgado for every issue so far, which is nice because it helps keeps things cohesive, instead of having issues with wildly different feels because colors are off.

I actually wasn’t able to read this issue when it came out. The comic shop I was going to at the time ran out of copies before I could get up there to buy it. By the time I did get it, a couple months had passed, and I’d already gotten the short recap from the following issues, and I honestly hadn’t missed much. It’s kind of sad, actually, this is supposed to be the “final” showdown between Doc Ock and Spider-Man, it should be something epic, befitting the legacy of their rivalry.

But I should probably get into what’s going on. The issue opens where the last one left off with Ock-Pete in the lab, preparing to remove Ghost-Pete. He reasons that the only way to do that is to remove all of Peter’s memories, and starts the process. However, Ghost-Pete manages to get control of his right hand again, and… tries to strangle himself. This really doesn’t make any sense, because if he’s successful in the strangling, he’ll just end up killing himself. Also, considering Ock’s still got the Living Brain hanging around as a lab assistant, he doesn’t have much of a chance of that. And indeed, the Living Brain does strap the right arm down. The memory deletion begins, and for this we delve into Peter’s mind.

This was a disappointing part of the issue. Peter’s mindscape is pretty much just a really run down looking city, which I guess is supposed to be New York, but it doesn’t look filled out enough to really be it. Maybe it’s just the places that are important to Pete? Either way, it feels kinda mundane for something as abstract as a human mind. But I suppose this makes more sense for the narrative, and it’s certainly easier to follow than other mindscape things I’ve read. Anyway, the first thing Ock attempts to get rid of are Peter’s memories of his time at the Daily Bugle, showing the building crumbling. Peter’s able to hang onto the memories though, and the building re-forms. Ock believes the only way that he’s going to be rid of Pete is to go into Pete’s mind himself.

This is exactly what Peter was waiting for though, and we see all of Peter’s friends and family come out and start ganging up on Ock. This is one thing about the issue that I like, since Peter’s loved ones are the source of his strength, it makes sense that they’d be in his mind fighting Ock off. However, Ock’s got his own mental allies, and a bunch of people from Spidey’s rogue’s gallery show up, Ock saying they’re his fears, regrets etc. I’m surprised and kinda annoyed that neither Venom nor Carnage appears, since I think they’re more deserving of representing darker memories/thoughts of Peter’s than some of the guys who do show up, but maybe that’s just me. The two sides fight, but the bad guys kinda tear through the good guys like… well, like supervillains through a group of civilians. Why are none of Peter’s superpowered friends there? No offense to Aunt May, but I’d trade her for the Human Torch when I’m getting ready for a fight.

Anyway, Ock’s gloating over Pete, but then Pete decides to rip his face off, revealing his Spider-Man mask beneath. It then becomes a fight between Ock and Spidey, and goes about as well as those always have. While Ock’s down, Peter starts in on a lecture, about how if Ock really believed the whole spiel about great power and great responsibility, then he wouldn’t be trying to get rid of Pete. However, Ock feels that his responsibility is something a tad… different. He rips off his own face, revealing a Spider-Man mask. They exchange a few blows, Pete saying that Ock’s making people afraid, Avengers being ready to kick him off the team and what not. Ock counters that he’s preventing a whole hell of a lot more crime than Peter ever did, and that Peter tried stopping him from operating on that little girl just so Ock wouldn’t find Pete hanging around. Ock says that Peter’s not worthy of being Spider-Man, and begins the mind wipe. Peter tries to fight, but that last barb from Ock really got to him, and he’s not able to fight it. The issue ends with Peter apparently being completely gone, and Ock being free.

The issue wasn’t bad, but it was kinda disappointing. The first 8 issues of the series had all been building to this, but the payoff just didn’t feel as satisfying as I had hoped.

Issue 10 mostly just advances some of the ongoing plot elements. However, it also jump around a lot. It feels like every time you flip the page, it’s a different scene focusing on different characters. I’ve been liking Dan Slott’s writing so far, but this feels really jumbled. I get that everything is happening more or less at the same time, jumping from character to character is frustrating. Because of all the jumping, I’m not going to do a page-by-page summarization, I’m just going to do each plot thread on its own.

First off, we see Captain Yuri Watanabe of the NYPD questioning officers who were at Grand Central during the whole Massacre fiasco. The officers all say that they didn’t see Spider-Man shoot Massacre, but they’re all pretty clearly lying. After she’s talked to the last one, Carlie Cooper emerges from the shadows, and the two talk about how they’ll need to get evidence from elsewhere if they’re going to prove Carlie’s theory.

Then we have stuff going on with The Green Goblin. Remember him, back from issue #4? Well, we finally get some more face-time with him and what he’s up to. We see some guys who have tattoos of the Goblin’s face offering help to the minions of a few supervillains that Spidey has taken out, taking them into the sewers to join the Goblin’s ranks. We also see Gobby fiddling with one of the Spider-bots, somehow re-programming the thing so that it doesn’t see him or his minions. To test this, he sends two of the Vulture’s minions who he’d picked up to go start a fire at MJ’s club. The re-programming is successful, and Ock doesn’t show up to help MJ out or try and catch the two brats. MJ and the other people at her club do manage to get saved by firefighters.

And finally we have what’s going on with Ock himself. Since Ghost-Pete’s not hanging around anymore, and Ock no longer has Pete’s memories, I am henceforth just going to call him Ock (or Spidey while he’s in costume). Anyway, Ock takes down two supervillains/crime bosses (whose minions I mentioned in the Goblin part) before getting to class. It’s test day, and while most of the class is still just beginning, Ock is already done and rubbing his brilliance in everyone’s face, including Dr. Lamaze. On his way out, he makes plans to see Anna Maria that evening. Later on, Peter is having dinner with his Aunt May, her husband John Jameson, and J. Jonah Jameson. Yeah, before this I had no idea that Peter and Jonah were related. Kinda weird, if you ask me, but then again there was a point in the comics where Ock was engaged to Aunt May, which is REALLY weird given what’s going on now. Anyway, Ock tells May about all the great things that are going on in his life, and May seems pleased that “Peter” is finally living up to his potential.

Ock then goes to see Anna Maria for dessert. That’s not a euphemism for anything, she really invited him for dessert. The dish she’s preparing involves using dry ice in the process, but she slips off her stool while handling it, and nearly gets a face full of dry ice. Ock however is able to grab it before it lands on her face, burning his hand. While she’s treating the burn, she leans in and they share a kiss but end up getting interrupted by Ock’s phone alerting him to a Spider-Man emergency. Anna Maria is understanding, and says she’ll be waiting for him. Ock takes out another supervillain/crime boss, bringing him up to a total of three for today. Yep, three crime bosses whose minions are now all working for the same guy. Truly today was a victory for the forces of good.

I’m sort of at a loss as to what more to say about these two issues. Like I said, during my initial reading of the series, I wasn’t able to get these two issues, but it made almost no difference. The recap pages informed me of the plot points that were important, and seeing them wasn’t any more spectacular. I like the way the plot is going at this point, with the Goblin scheming in the shadows right under Ock’s nose, and Carlie trying to prove that Ock’s inside Pete’s body. I also like the developing relationship between Ock and Anna Maria. It shows a side of Ock I haven’t seen before, and I really like Anna Maria.

This marks the end of the first act of Superior Spider-Man, in my eyes. Every issue up to this point, there’s been an underlying conflict between Peter and Ock. Everything Ock was doing felt like he was trying to one-up Peter, and Peter was trying to find a way to get a message to someone else, so that they’d know that it wasn’t him calling the shots. But Peter’s gone now, that conflict has ended. Issue 10 could technically be considered the beginning of act two, but I feel it fits better as the falling action of act one.

So how is act two different? Where will Ock and Anna Maria’s relationship go? What is the Goblin’s Plan? Will Carlie find the proof she needs? Well, come back in three weeks to find out! Why three weeks? Well, check the schedule to find out!

(Sorry about the lack of pictures this week, nothing really jumped out at me this time.)

No comments:

Post a Comment