Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Superior Spider-Man, #17-19

Greetings once again, citizens! Well, it’s that time again. We’re continuing our look at Superior Spider-Man with issues 17, 18, and 19! Let’s not waste any time and get right to it.

This cover’s pretty neat. Instead of our Superior Spidey being the focus, we have our guest star, Spider-Man 2099! I’m not as familiar with 2099 Spidey, but that’s not a big deal. Our Spidey is lurking beneath the… whatever the hell that thing is, hidden by shadows. This is kind of interesting because while they’re not together, they’re not fighting, so it leaves it open how these two will interact. For fans knowing who Spidey 2099 is, it makes them wonder what in the hell he’s doing here. For those unfamiliar, it’s a guy dressed up in a Spider-Man-esque costume who seems to be looking for something. My only critique of the cover is the city which serves as the background. It looks like New York, but there are a few details that make it seem like it’s Nueva York (what New York is called in the 2099 universe). It could be that Ryan Stegman was going for a look that sort of blurred the lines between which city it is, but if so I can’t figure out why.

We begin in Nueva York, with forces of The Public Eye clearing the area around Alchemax. Like I said, I’m not very familiar with Spidey 2099, or the 2099 universe as a whole (yes, it turns out it is it’s own separate universe, according to the Spider-verse), so if I get something wrong, feel free to correct me. From what I can tell though, the Public Eye is the police force, and they’re run by Alchemax, a mega-corporation responsible for all sorts of sinister things. There’s some sort of crisis going on, and conveniently Miguel O’Hara is nearby. Miguel is Spidey 2099, gifted with spider-type powers through gene-splicing gone awry! He quickly assesses the situation, deducing that there’s some sort of temporal anomaly. Of course, seeing a t-rex and biplanes, most people would be able to guess that. Unless they’re LARPers of course… in which case I want to get in on that game.

The aforementioned anachronistic antagonists disappear quite suddenly, and Miguel crashes into Alchemax, demanding to know what the shock is going on. It seems that the CEO, Tyler Stone, is fading out of existence. This is a problem for Miguel, because Tyler is secretly his father. Alchemax’s scientists have determined that the source of the problem lies in the heroic age, otherwise known as our time period. This gives us a panel that perfectly reflects my thoughts on 99% of all stories involving time travel.

So they convince Miguel to go back in time to save Stone. But enough about that inferior Spidey, I’m sure our Superior Spider-Man is engaged in some sort of heroic struggle.

Or he’s… playing in a company softball game, showing off for Anna Maria. After the game, a helicopter descends with a couple of Men in Black saying they have warrants for Max Modell. This takes Peter by surprise because of his absence from the company of late, but everyone else saw this coming. Peter’s spider-sense informs him that he’s being watched, and we see that this is all going according to the plan of Tiberius Stone. He’s been leaking information about Horizon Labs’ activities, some of which haven’t exactly been legal. Why’s he doing this? I’m not sure, actually. I tried finding out, but didn’t have any luck. He used to work for Max, so I can only guess he was fired and swore vengeance, because that’s what one does when one lives in the Marvel universe.

We get a brief scene of the Goblin Court, with the Goblin Knight (formerly the Hobgoblin) saying he wants another shot at Spidey, but the Green Goblin just beats him and then gets an evil idea.

Back with Pete, he’s meeting with the rest of the Horizon Labs team and getting filled in on the legal problems. This is cut short however by the arrival of Horizon’s new majority shareholder, Liz Allan. Liz has been a supporting character off and on for a long while, but I’m not too familiar with her, except that she had a son with Harry Osborn and decided to name him Normie. You’d think that after the name of Norman Osborn became synonymous with “psychotic supervillain” she’d change the kid’s name. Although, I guess he’s probably called Normie Allan… uh, anyway, Liz says she’s the boss now, and is putting Tiberius in charge of things. And just look at this face when this gets revealed.

Dude, I know you live in a comic world and everything is going according to plan, but come on! Look less smug! So they leave, but Peter goes after them, because what’s the point in being a vigilante if you don’t spit in the face of the law? Meanwhile, the rest of the gang at Horizon decides that the situation can only be solved by mucking about with time, so they go an activate a time portal that one of them had been working on. Y’know, Peter is at this point supposed to be coming off as a guy drunk on his own power and abusing it pretty badly. So why is it that I find myself thinking that his plan right now is the more reasonable course of action? However, they can’t activate the time portal because it just activates on its own, dumping Miguel into this time period.

Back with Peter, we see that he’s stopped Liz and her crew. His spider-sense tingles again when he gets close to Normie, but he ignores it in favor of making threats to Stone. Before he can act on those threats though, Stone’s ass is saved by Miguel, ending the issue.

The cover of issue 18’s not as good as the previous issue, but it’s not terrible either. Gone is any sense of ambiguity that was present in the previous cover, as the two Spider-Men are actively fighting. My complaint is that they’re fighting in a white void.

The issue begins right where the last one left off with Miguel confronting Peter. The two have met before, as Miguel explains, but the memory of those events belonged to the old Peter, so our current Peter is without them, and he’ll be damned if he lets anyone get in the way of his pettiness! The two square off, but before we see any action, Tyler Stone contacts Miguel and tells him how he can’t let any harm come to Tiberius.

We cut away to Horizon Labs, where we see the gang there making preparation to go through with their time travel plan. Or rather, Grady is planning on doing it (since it’s his stupid invention), and the others are voicing their concerns. This doesn’t really advance the plot though, so hooray for filler!

Back with the Spider-Men, the fight begins and Miguel lands a powerful blow, calling Peter “low-tech.” Peter then shows off his Hulk impression by shouting and lifting a car in order to do some good ol’ fashion spider squashing. Stone though has an ace up his sleeve, and by “ace” I mean “device that causes Peter’s spider-sense to go nuts.” He activates it, which causes Peter to nearly drop the car on Normie, if not for Miguel’s intervention. Peter’s come down off of his rage, and tries apologizing to Liz for the danger, which gives Miguel an opportunity to slip away with Stone. Peter attempts to track him down, but he gets a call from Anna Maria and suddenly remembers that all of his work on his thesis is at Horizon, and was done using their resources. That means that Allan Chemical will be the owners of his glorious work, and screw that!

Back with Miguel, he muses on whether or not he should be keeping Stone alive. On the one hand, keeping him alive means that Miguel won’t spontaneously disappear from the timeline. On the other hand, it also means that Alchemax will be around making life miserable for just about everyone. Before he can come to a decision though, Stone leaps off of a building, having guessed at what the situation is. Fortunately for fans of Spidey 2099, he saves Stone, ensuring his continued existence for the time being. Miguel uses his time-travel device to download his personal AI, Lyla, from 2099 in order to have some help in this era.

Over with the gang at Horizon, Grady manages to successfully find some proof that Stone’s a scumbag and responsible for at least part of the lawsuits aimed at Horizon. And Peter’s there, smuggling all of his stuff out of the lab with the help of his robotic lab assistant. I don’t know why, but I find it hilarious that he still has that thing. However, Max returns at this moment and catches Peter, pleading with him to not do this because of all the trouble it will cause. He gets interrupted by a call from Peter’s minions, and Peter takes off to deal with a situation involving the original Hobgoblin (actually the Green Goblin in disguise). Max is disgusted by Peter’s behavior, but before he can launch into an angry tirade, he notices all the chronotons just kinda floating about and demands that they shut down the stupid time door.

Peter has an internal monologue about how everything is falling apart all at once. He finally catches a break and spots Miguel swinging by and heading into Horizon. Max and the gang are all baffled as to why the chronotons are still everywhere if the machine is off, but Miguel comes in announcing that he understands everything, and they’ll all be fine if they listen to him. Naturally, Peter comes in and sucker-punches Miguel, knocking him out cold, ending the issue.

The cover for issue 19 is probably one of the best of the series. It’s nice and dynamic, with a large explosion happening just off of the left side of the cover, but the blast is still dangerously close to Miguel. Miguel is also riddled with more holes than Man of Steel’s plot, which is impressive on the part of the artist. Peter meanwhile looks like he’s swinging towards Miguel and trying to reach out to him. This raises expectations of those who’ve been following the story, and is also interesting enough on it’s own to attract someone who might not be following it. Very nice.

As a change of pace, this issue does not start us off where the other one left off. Nope, instead we’re getting some more advancement of one of the underlying plotlines. We see The Wraith trying to get at a banker whose clientele includes such wonderful people as AIM and the Red Skull. She’s trying to get this guy because this is where the money trail that she and Carlie Cooper decided to follow a few issues ago. It would’ve been nice if we had seen them actually following the trail, instead of just seeing the beginning and near-end of that little journey. But, considering how much is going on in the series already, and the limited time they had to work with, I understand why we don’t get to. Although they could’ve done it in a limited series or something, I suppose.

Anyway, back at Horizon, we see the gang and Spidey trying to fix this soon-to-be-disaster. Spidey is able to deduce the cause of the problem, based off of the info that Grady acquired from the past. He begins sending the group off to go fetch the things he’ll need to prevent the time explosion that is about to occur. However, Max informs him that they also need Peter there, because he was the only one who could solve an equation that’s involved with one of the pieces of tech. Unfortunately, the memory of solving it has been erased, like 99% of all of the old Peter’s memories. Peter begins frantically digging through what few memories remained, but to no avail. However, we also get these four panels, which… well, I don’t want to spoil what they are.

Also, what the hell happened to Peter’s thighs? They’re enormous! I wasn’t aware that spider powers included thunder thighs.

Uh, anyway, back to the crisis. Turns out Peter was zoned out for a good little bit, leaving only five minutes before the time-plosion. In the time that he was zoned out, the others managed to cobble together a device that should save them all… provided that they have the equation. Peter’s confident that he can solve the equation, so he starts plugging along while everyone evacuates. Everyone except for Miguel and Stone, that is. Miguel decides that if this place is going to blow, Stone’s going down too, in order to save the future. He gets a call from the future, saying that it’s not just Tyler Stone and Alchemax that are disappearing, but all of that reality. Peter believes he’s solved the equation, just in the nick of time. Unfortunately…

Miguel decides to save Stone, and the two of them get out just before the place implodes. With the crisis averted, Tyler Stone decides to break the time-travel thing, leaving Miguel stuck in the past. He makes the best of it though, as we see a bit later on he has managed to set himself up as Tiberius Stone’s assistant, in order to keep an eye on him.

Meanwhile, we see the Horizon Labs gang back at the site of their former lab. Mayor Jameson tells Max that he’ll pull some strings to get the charges against him dropped, provided that Max doesn’t rebuild his lab in New York, to which Max agrees. After Jameson leaves, Max and the others manage to pull Peter back to the current time using their magic science. Max tells Spidey that this is it for their association with each other, and that they’re square.

Peter goes back to his place, where he finds a bunch of messages waiting for him, most of them from Mary Jane. He gives her a call, and the conversation is… terse. They pretty much both agree to get on with their lives apart from each other. This is only tangentially related to the plot, but I included it anyway because it does actually demonstrate how the Superior Peter is severing ties with the old Peter’s life. I also included it because of the significance of Peter and MJ’s relationship. I may have mentioned this before, but I never had much investment in their relationship since that was from an era before I was reading comics. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision to end their relationship, but I do like that they’re trying to move on from that, instead of reliving them dating again or retconning their marriage back into existence.

Son of a bitch!

Sigh. Back to the current comic, we see most of the Horizon gang leaving the city by boat for some reason, except for Sajani who gets a call from Peter, making her some sort of offer. The issue ends back with the Wraith and Carlie, getting confirmation that Spider-Man is really Otto Octavius!

These issues are pretty good. There’s very little to speak of in the way of awkward writing, which has been consistent throughout the series thus far, much to Dan Slott’s credit. The only thing I could really nitpick on is that the Green Goblin stuff doesn’t actually get much attention or serve much purpose in these issues other than padding. The artwork is pretty solid, with the exception of a couple of spots. I personally really like Ryan Stegman’s style, it has some exaggeration, especially with facial features, but it all works really well together, with very few exceptions.

These issues are actually the beginning of the Spider-Verse event that’s going on as of the writing of this review. They’re the set up for issues 32 and 33 of this series, which were produced after the “finale.” I recommend Spider-Verse to anyone who’s a fan of Spider-Man, even if you’re not fond of the Superior version of him. If you want to see more of Spider-Man 2099, you can also check out his series that’s going on right now as well. It’s been a pretty good read, so far.

That’s all for this week, but come back next week for the last Superior review of the year!

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