Thursday, April 2, 2015

Superior Spider-Man, issues 28 & 29

Greetings, citizens! Today is the second to last look at Superior Spider-Man, so let’s dive right in.

This cover is really nice and works both for people who’ve been following the series, and new readers (though I do feel bad if someone who hadn’t been following the series decided to just now pick it up). For a new reader, it shows the Green Goblin, heavily cast in shadow with a smug and devious smile and his glowing eyes, grasping the little Spider-Man pawn between his fingers. It sets a nice, ominous tone and makes you intrigued as to what Osborn’s up to this time. For those who’ve been following the series, it perfectly symbolizes the situation that was set up in the previous issue and reinforced with this one. All of the red pieces representing Spidey’s forces are scattered off the board, most knocked over. The only red piece still on the board is one with the likeness of Anna Maria, which is knocked over, making one wonder what’s happened to her. A nice little touch that I only got after a good long look at the cover is how Osborn is holding the Spidey pawn. He’s only got a light grasp on it, using only two of his fingers and thumb. It’s a negligent gesture, showing that Osborn feels that he’s already achieved victory. He doesn’t care if Spidey does escape, there’s nothing that can be done to stop him. It’s reinforced by the relaxed posture that he’s displaying while sitting in his Jack O’lantern throne. Props to Giuseppe Camuncoli for one of the most well put together comic covers I’ve seen.

So the issue opens right where the last one left off, with Spider Island being blind-sided by the Goblin King’s lieutenants, Menace, Monster and the Goblin Knight. Spider-Man is overwhelmed and isn’t sure how to react. Because of this, he only barely manages to escape on the back of the Living Brain (I love that that thing is still around), and all of his Spiderlings are killed and the base leveled. The lieutenants attempt to give chase, but Spider submerges to lose them.

We cut away to Ghost-Pete, who’s still trapped inside of Otto’s memories, and he’s seeing a lot of parallels between the two of them, which I really like. They were both intensely bullied when they were younger, escaped into science which they excelled in, and had a loving mother figure. There are some key differences though, perhaps most notably with their respective father figures. Peter’s Uncle Ben had was a loving figure who helped provide Peter with a strong moral grounding. The whole “power and responsibility” lesson Ben taught to Peter is as much a part of the character as the radioactive blood. Otto on the other hand had an abusive father. We saw this before, back when Ghost-Pete first was delving into Otto’s memories, but we see more of it here. Hell, we see more panels of Otto being beaten by his dad than getting bullied at school, so either it was more frequent, or just holds more prominence, possibly both. Another point of contrast is that it seems like Otto might’ve been a bit better in the romance department than Peter, as we see a memory of him with a girl when he seems pretty young. Unfortunately, Otto’s mother smothered him and was overprotective, so that killed any possible chance for his love life. It’s these parallels that make me like Otto as a character; he serves as kind of a “what could’ve been” for Peter. I’m reminded of a panel from Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, where Peter actually does say “Some day I’ll show them! Some day they’ll be sorry!” I get that it’s from really early on, and both writing styles and the character have evolved since then, but I don’t think it’s too out of character for Peter to indulge in petty revenge every now and then. Hell, in one of the first couple issues of the re-launched Amazing Spider-Man, Peter punched Captain fucking America over an honest mistake that Cap made. It’s a trait that I’ve also seen him display in other media, but I don’t necessarily count those, what with them being adaptations.

Okay, enough side-tracking. Back in the real world, we see the Goblin King arrive and survey the damage that his underlings have caused. The Goblin Knight is hesitant to tell his liege that Spidey escaped, but when he does, Osborn doesn’t seem concerned. It makes sense, because the two have worked together before, so Osborn knows how Otto-Pete thinks. Osborn then gives the order to his minions to go forth and start taking care of people close to Peter.

We cut away from the goblins to a press conference being held by Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, who’s unveiling the Spider Slayers that he secretly had commissioned, calling them Goblin Slayers, and for some reason he thought that having the creepiest looking image of his face possible on them was a good idea.

Just look at those. They’re supposed to be protectors of the city, but they look more like they plan on kidnapping children in order to harvest their souls for fuel. MJ and Ollie are watching the press conference, and she’s skeptical of them as well (though not because of the creepy visage). Their TV time is interrupted by the goblin children, who I’ve kinda just glossed over ever since we saw Osborn recruit them. They’re attacking MJ for the third time, which is apparently one time too many for MJ to take. While Ollie holds them off, she heads to a safe and retrieves a pair of web shooters that Peter apparently gave her, webbing up the kids. I was surprised at this when I saw it, since I’ve never seen or heard about MJ being a badass. Her badassery continues by grabbing Ollie and enacting a plan that she’s apparently had prepared fro awhile, getting May and Jay and telling her aunt Anna to take the first flight out of town. This actually makes a lot of sense, given how long MJ’s had to deal with this kind of bullshit, and she’s not a complete idiot. I mean, who wouldn’t be prepared for a villain to attack after it’s happened a dozen times or so?

We rejoin Otto-Peter as he emerges from the bay (in his civilian clothes instead of his Spidey suit) just outside of Parker Industries, where Sajani just happens to be. What, was she taking a soothing night walk along the waterfront? Anyway, she starts berating Peter for being absent for a month, and then bringing Spider-Man’s stuff here, making this place a bigger target for the goblins. Before she can berate him further, Captain Watanabe leaps from the shadows, dressed as her alter ego The Wraith. I haven’t been commenting on the art as much with the Spidey issues because I’ve more or less talked about the things I like and dislike about each art team that’s done the issues so far, but there are some panels where there’s something I have to comment on. Case in point, the Wraith’s boobs here:

Those things are friggin’ huge! Squashed down, sure, but jeez! We’ve seen Captain Watanabe and she’s not packing a pair of cantaloupes in her jacket. Anyway, she attacks Peter and demands he confess to what he did with Carlie, and he just flat out tells her that he has no idea where she’s gone. The interrogation is fittingly interrupted by Monster (Carlie altered by the Goblin Serum). The Wraith’s lenses have the same facial recognition software that all the Spider-bots had, so she can’t see Monster at all, allowing Monster to knock her out before revealing who she is to Peter.

We get another two-page spread of Ghost-Pete living through Otto’s memories, and we see that he’s having an even harder time separating himself from the memories. The last time, even though he was seeing all of Otto’s life, he still knew who he was, and the panels were divided by a spider symbol. Now however, he’s having a hard time remembering his name, and the panels are divided by Doc Ock’s signature tentacles. Also, Otto totally looks like a DJ with a weird turntable suit.

Back with Otto-Peter, he leads Carlie into Parker Industries, which he’s outfitted with defenses, including his signature tentacles. He quickly gets her into a secure room and delivers a boot to the head. Carlie takes this opportunity to claim that he destroyed her earpiece, before actually doing just that so Osborn can’t listen in. She tells Peter that she wants his help in undoing what the Goblin Serum has done, but that he needs to hurry before she loses control again.

At an unspecified different time, we see Anna Maria being picked up by Menace who’s dressed in casual clothes, and claiming to be doing it to protect all of Peter’s loved ones. Of course, this is bullshit, but it serves as a nice, ominous way to end the issue.

Once again, we’ve got a good cover, but in a different way than the previous one. Where that one was laden with lots of symbolism, this one is pretty straightforward. It’s just one of Jonah’s Goblin Slayers holding Spidey and 2099 Spidey by their heads. It works though because it’s completely unclear how this situation arose, given that there was no setup for this in the previous issue. Oh and Jonah’s face is just so damn creepy.

The issue starts off with Menace bringing Anna Maria to Osborn, but he’s too fixated on the various news reports to give a damn. He’s paying special attention to one, which is interviewing Sajani, who says that part of the PI building collapsed right after Peter and Monster went inside. We cut away to Jameson and the Alchemax people also watching the news. Tyler Stone is trying to convince Jameson to send out the Goblin Slayers. Wait, he needs to be convinced? In the last issue, it seemed like he was already planning on sending them out. What the hell was the press conference for then? Was that just a teaser conference? Did he have a giant banner saying “coming summer 2014” or something? Oy, so, while Tyler is confident in the robots, Liz Allen says that while they’re field ready, they’re not combat ready. So… they’re not field ready then, unless she means that they’re ready to prance about in a field. I can’t imagine that there’s too many times when you would need a robot to prance about in a field though. I guess she could mean that they can help with rescuing civilians, but in that case they should definitely be sent out. We see that the city’s superheroes are stretched to their limit, any help that can be given with making sure civilians are safe would mean more superheroes and police dealing with the goblins themselves. Oh, and Jameson’s secretary quits and storms out because Jameson’s too focused on his hatred of Spider-Man.

We have a brief cutaway to MJ and the others that she rescued who are safely in Connecticut. Peter calls briefly to make sure that MJ and the others are safe, but he doesn’t bother letting Aunt May or Jay know that he’s okay. Back with Peter, we see him and Sajani working on an antidote to the Goblin Serum while Carlie is restrained. But of course Osborn interrupts this by calling Peter’ secure Spider-Hotline number. He tells Peter to put on his mask, so he can see something. He does so, and we get a two-page spread of Osborn blowing up places of significance to Otto and then telling him that he’s got a hostage. Peter, thinking the worst, assumes that Osborn has Anna Maria and races off to rescue her, swearing vengeance. While he’s swinging through the city, people cry out to him for help, but he’s too busy to be bothered with people. He calls the police chief to try and direct their efforts there, but the police chief is under the impression that he’s in league with the Goblins. Instead, Jameson orders the Goblin Slayers to the location, and to sweep out from there in search of Spidey.

Peter arrives at Empire State University and finds Osborn with the hostage. In a nice little twist, it’s not Anna Maria; it’s Dr. Lamaze! Osborn says that from what he found, Lamaze was the closest thing Otto ever had to a friend, and he mistakenly thought that it was Lamaze that he was trying to save from being crushed by a bus back in issue 21. Peter lunges at him, but Osborn snaps his fingers and Peter’s mechanical limbs start trying to kill him. It’s a bit of a stretch, but Osborn is a genius with lots of experience with mechanical devices, and he conceivably could have studied Otto’s designs for his original ones (which his current ones are based on), so it gets a pass. So, Peter is fighting his robotic limbs while Osborn gets away. He tells Lamaze to get out of there. While he’s distracted though, one of the limbs is poised perfectly to strike. Before it can, Lamaze … um… somehow gets in the way?

I get the intention, but, exactly how did Lamaze get in the way of the limb? It doesn’t look like he shoved Spidey out of the way since there’s no sign of impact between the two, and even if he had run into Spidey, the limb still has to go to the same point relative to itself. Did it decide to just stab Lamaze when he ran closer? Well, however it happened, Lamaze saved Peter. When Peter asks him why he did that, Lamaze tells him that he felt ashamed of how he reacted when he and Anna Maria were in peril back in issue 21, that he’s been wanting to do the right thing ever since and that Spidey showed him what it meant to be a hero. It’s actually a poignant scene for a fairly minor and, up until this point, unlikable character. Even Spidey’s affected by his death.

No time to mourn though! Before Spidey can start tracking down Osborn, the Goblin Slayers arrive and attempt to apprehend him. They get shut down by none other than Spider-Man 2099, AKA Miguel O’Hara, AKA Michael O’Mara who helped build the Slayers. He demands answers from Peter, but before he gets any, the Slayers come back online, courtesy of Osborn, which brings an end to the issue.

Once again I find myself in a situation where I wanted to do three issues, but I think this entry’s gone on long enough as is. We’ve only got two issues left (sort of), and while I would have preferred to do the finale issue by itself, upon further reflection the penultimate issue fits in better when looked at alongside the finale rather than these two. Normally, I’d have that review ready by next week, but I’ve got something special in mind and I’m not sure how long it’ll take to do. That doesn’t mean I won’t update weekly though, it just means that the schedule is in a somewhat fluid state right now. So come back next week for… whatever next week happens to be! Until then, citizens!

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