Honestly, I had intended to take a look at this series more than once but as time went on and I had never reviewed it and finally when they announced that it would be ending at issue #31, I just let it come to a close so that I could examine the series as a whole, rather than in several smaller pieces.
And so, here’s my look at the entire run of The Superior Spider-Man.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Spider-Man, Peter Parker was one of my favorite characters, along with Iron Man and Daredevil and when I heard that Peter was going to be dying, as much as anyone ever dies in the comics, I was really disturbed by it. I didn’t want Otto Octavius becoming Spider-Man, I didn’t want him taking over the life of Peter Parker, but as time went on, I realized I was completely wrong.
Otto makes a pretty damn good Spider-Man, perhaps even better than Peter Parker. Oh sure, they had to change a few things, they had to force Otto to be a more moral person, to want to be a hero, but when it comes right down to it, it made me realize just what kind of a whiner Peter Parker has been all these years. Otto is very effective, perhaps too effective sometimes, his methods, especially at the end, make him very much like the NSA and I’ll grant some of it is disturbing, but most of the time, he’s stopping crime more effectively than Peter ever did and, as I’ve said about other heroes in the past, he’s not being a wimp about it. Some bad guys just deserve to die and when the system fails, as is the case with Massacre, I have no problem with Spider-Man pulling the trigger. After all, how many times does the system have to let the same psychotic madman out of prison to kill again before the citizens take the law into their own hands? Maybe Batman ought to try that with Joker?
That doesn’t mean that Otto isn’t creepy though, especially when he tried to get back together with Mary Jane, just because he could and when it didn’t present enough of a challenge, he basically just blew her off when he found someone new. Who? A tutor of his, after he decided to go back to college and get the doctorate that Peter never did, Anna Maria Marconi, a dwarf, which is a rather bold move for Marvel, but she’s a great character too and even though Otto is gone by the end of the series, I hope she sticks around. After all, she never knew that she loved Otto Octavius, she thinks she’s in love with Peter Parker. Maybe he ought to love her back.
So anyhow, there were six arcs in Superior Spider-Man, plus an end bit and I’ll go through those really fast.
“My Own Worst Enemy” (issues #1–5) -Tells the story following Peter’s “death” in Amazing Spider-Man 700. Otto, in Peter’s body, sets out to become an even better Spider-Man than Peter ever could be. He defeats the Sinister Six and gains public acclaim. Peter still exists, buried deep in his own subconscious and acts as a moral compass for Otto. It doesn’t always work though, when Otto learns that the Vulture is using kidnapped children as his henchmen, Otto flies into a rage and blinds Vulture, which, honestly, he probably deserved. He also kills Massacre after a bloody rampage.
“A Troubled Mind” (issues #6–10) – Spider-Man’s murder of Massacre doesn’t sit well with the Avengers and they insist on testing him but their tests don’t reveal Otto’s presence. Otto uses some of his former technology to detect a young girl’s brain cancer but it also reveals the presence of Peter Parker hiding out in his subconscious. They battle and Otto apparently wins, erasing Peter’s memories and eliminating him from existence. The Green Goblin figures out how to hack Otto’s spider-bots to render his troops free from detection. Otto grows closer to Ana Maria as the Goblin renames himself Goblin King and makes an attempt to take over the city.
“No Escape” (issues #11–16) – Otto, in his Spider guise, becomes closer friends with J. Jonah Jameson and is asked to oversee the execution of Alistair Smythe, the man who murdered Jameson’s wife. Smythe escapes but is recaptured and murdered by Otto, who uses Jameson’s kill order to blackmail him into decommissioning the Raft and giving it to Spidey as a base of operations. The Goblin King, due to his invisibility to the spider-bots, gains a majority control over organized crime in New York City. He reveals the Hobgoblin’s true identity to the people as Phil Urich and Hobgoblin has nowhere else to go but to the Goblin King, who redubs him as Goblin Knight.
“Necessary Evil” (issues #17–21) – In the 2099 Spider-Man Universe, Miguel O’Hara finds that time is breaking down. He tracks this to Alchemax and they send him back in time to fix a time anomaly in the modern day. Allen Chemical is surrounded by explosive time energy and Otto ought to know how to correct the problem, if he was really Peter Parker. Tyler Stone destroys the time machine, stranding Miguel in the present. He takes a job secretly as Stone’s assistant until he can find a way to get home. Carlie, still looking into the apparent change in Spider-Man, finds that all of his funding comes from a secret offshore account belonging to Otto Octavius. Otto, finishing the doctorate that Peter Parker failed to achieve, proposes a business arrangement for Anna Marie and with help from Aunt May, starts Parker Enterprises. Angelina Brancale, former lover of Otto, is revived and becomes Stunner again and “Peter’s” professor accuses him of stealing intellectual property from Otto Octavius for his final project.
“Darkest Hours” (issues #22–26) – Flash Thompson returns to town as Agent Venom but Otto isn’t aware that he’s one of the good guys and attacks him. He barely escapes, but later, Otto finds an opportunity to destroy Venom, but gets infected, becoming Spider-Venom. Of course, Otto thinks this is wonderful, but it’s really turning him into a violent monster and he starts attacking anyone guilty of any crime, no matter how minor. Aunt May has dinner with “Peter” and Anna Maria and is concerned that she’s a dwarf, which enrages Otto. The Avengers declare war on Spider-Venom and once Captain America learns that Otto has erased all of the tests performed on him, Cap is forced to go after Peter as well. He tries to explain that he wants to avoid his information becoming public again but the Avengers don’t buy it and Spidey quits the team. The Goblin King consolidates his forces and moves closer to making New York City his own.
“Goblin Nation” (issues #27–31) – 31 days later, Goblin King declares the city his and Otto heads out to the Brooklyn Bridge in his search for the Goblin King. Peter, having slowly come back into being, finds that there are only 31 of his memories remaining and vows to take over his body again. Otto realizes that the spider-bots have had their facial recognition software tampered with and then meets up with the Goblin King who reveals he’s know it was really Otto all along. The Goblin King attacks Otto’s Spider Island II with missiles, destroying it. J. Jonah Jameson unleashes Alchemax’s new Spider-Slayer robots, even though Alchemax says they’re not ready, in hopes that he can wipe out both Goblin King and his old nemesis Spider-Man. This is not something the public is happy about. Goblin King kidnaps Anna Maria to use her as a weapon against Otto. Miguel O’Hara arrives to stop the Spider-Slayers and the battle rages across Empire State University. With both the city and Anna Maria at risk, Otto realizes that he isn’t the superior Spider-Man, Peter Parker is and he erases his memories and ultimately himself. Back in his own body, but in a city that doesn’t respect him, Peter fights against the Goblin King, who has strapped Anna Maria to a bomb on the top of Alchemax. He manages to rescue her and capture the Goblin King in grand fashion, ending the reign of the Goblin Nation. His entire world has changed and he’s saddened to realize that in putting things right, Otto had to sacrifice his own life.
“Actions Have Consequences” (issue #31) – In a short story that takes place some time after the end of Goblin Nation, Peter learns that his actions, even though they were not his actions, still have consequences to his life. Mary Jane has moved on with her life, she’s with someone else now and she’s hopping off the Peter Parker train. Carlie is also leaving town, she realizes that so long as Peter Parker is in her life, she’s going to be a target. Peter goes to J. Jonah and tells him not to give up but it’s too late, he’s already resigned the mayorship. Everyone moves on, all of these lives have been damaged just by knowing Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
As much as I didn’t think I’d like it, I really did enjoy Superior Spider-Man. It pointed out some problems that I hadn’t even considered with the regular title and now that Peter Parker is back in his own body, hopefully some of the things learned from Superior will translate. It will no longer be Peter Parker swinging off to rescue hapless Mary Jane Watson, a lot of his past is now gone, I hope they provide him with a better future.