Waiting for the Trade Superior Spider-man

Waiting for the Trade

by Bill Miller

 

Superior Spider-man
(1): My Own Worst Enemy

By Dan Slott, Ryam
Stegman and Giuseppe Camumcoli

Collects Superior Spider-man 1 -5.

 

Why I bought this: The
last trade (ASM 698-700) was epic and I needed to read the follow up.

The Plot: Doc Ock
switched brains with Peter Parker and then Ock’s body with Parker in it died
leaving Ock as the new Spider-man. This trade is Ock’s first days in his new
role.
 
Spoilers after the break

 

Chapter 1 – Ock finds a new Sinister Six made up of
C-listers and takes them on but after taking a few hits decides it isn’t worth
taking a beating and attempts to flee. When a civilian is endangered he turns
around and saves the day but the Six escape. In his day job Ock is doing
Peter’s science job better than Peter but frets how he will never get credit
for it. He then goes on a date with MJ. Later he tracks down the Six and takes
them down hard. He is about to kill one of them when we see Peter’s ghost
arrive and subliminally makes Ock stop.

Chapter 2 – Ghost Peter is horrified that JJJ has finally endorsed
Spidey and that MJ is dating him and does not notice he is a different person.
Later MJ is attacked by mini-Vultures. Ock saves her and breaks up with her. MJ
relates the failed dates to Carlie Cooper, who begins to suspect the truth.
(Peter in Ock’s body had told Cooper the truth in the last trade but she didn’t
believe him at the time).

Chapter 3 – Ock traces the mini-Vultures back to the real
deal and is horrified to learn Vulture is using children as his underlings. Their
fight gets violent and ends with Spidey hospitalizing Vulture in front of
Cooper furthering her suspicions.

Chapter 4 – In a stunning splash page Spidey releases little
spider-bots across the city so Ock can monitor everything. He makes a few
arrests and then accompanies Aunt May to a doctor’s office. When he learns May
needs a cane to walk so he decides to invent a cure for all spinal injuries,
which horrifies Ghost Peter and the Horizon employees for some reason. We also
get a funny moment when Ock releaizes that as Peter he is no longer a doctor as
Peter never even got his master’s degree. This prompts Ock to enroll in college
again. Meanwhile Massacre escapes from Ravencroft killing 90s’ supporting
character Dr. Kafka in the process. Jameson and Spidey are called to the scene
and Jameson makes Spidey promise to kill Massacre next time they meet. Massacre
meanwhile lives up to his name in a diner full of civilians. In the cliffhanger
we see the Green Goblin is back in NYC.

Chapter 5 – Massacre blackmails a Cola CEO into funding him
to kill her competitors. As Peter, Ock meets his new tutor for school: a female
midget named Anna Marconi and they have an enjoyable dinner. Massacre begins
killing cops in the subway until Spidey arrives, disarms him and fatally shoots
him much to Ghost Peter’s horror. He then uses his spiderbots to expose the CEO
from the start of the chapter vowing to watch over and take responsibility for
everything in the city.

 

Critical Thoughts:
Overall this is very good. The concept alone is one of the most original things
I’ve ever seen in comics which is saying something when you consider has 50
years of history spread out over 1,000 individual issues. We’ve seen heroes
replaced before (Cap, Thor and Iron Man come to mind) but usually it is by
other heroes and the key supporting cast know a switch has been made. Here we
have a villain taking up the hero’s mantle and on top of that no one knows
Peter is gone including his loved ones. It is a strong concept and Ock is in
many ways the perfect villain to execute it with. 1) he’s always been show to
be driven by ego even in his most villainous moments (threatening to blow up NYC
so everyone would know he was superior to them or the recent Ends of the Earth
arc) yet he has also had moments of altruism over the years (trying to cure
AIDS, helping Sue Richards during childbirth, curing Peter when he was poisoned
during the Clone Saga). Thus the idea that once he finished off Peter and had
Peter’s powers he would try to take advantage of his fresh start and prove he
could be a better hero than Peter ever was fits very nicely into past
continuity.

I also like Ock’s initial reactions to his new life. I like
him running away in that first fight and thinking Peter had to be insane to
fight the kind of odds he often did. I love his outrage at not being a doctor
anymore and his disappointment that his name won’t be the one to get credit for
any science accomplishments he makes at Horizon. It all just rings true in a
character sense.

I also thought the villains are well portrayed, particularly
Vulture. I like the art a lot. I like the pacing in terms of setting up future
events (Carlie’s suspicions, the Goblin’s return). I also thought the ending
was very strong, with Ock taking Peter’s responsibility  catchphrase and spinning into an
NSA/Orewellian style nightmare as a natural extension of what an egomaniacal
mad scientist would do if he was trying to be a responsible hero. 

However, there is a big con and that is Ghost Peter arrives
way too soon and brings little to the table. Look we all knew from day one
Peter was coming back but we didn’t need to see him this soon. Chapter 2 is by
far the weakest entry in this trade with the Peter’s constant narration on Ock’s
actions just irritating. Worse it over simplifies the story. We all know Ock is
going to fail at being Spider-man. But for the story to have meaning Ock’s
failures and successes need to be his own and not caused by the subliminal
influence of Peter.

The Mary Jane subplot is also kind of weak, but in that case
I’ll give Slott a pass because it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t
situation. If Ock beds Mary Jane there are going to be cries of rape. If he
ignores her she would know something is up and fans would complain she’s being
marginalized in a story where she should have a presence. This way Ock rids
himself of her in a way that sidesteps the first issue, but also keeps her
loyal to Peter on a subconscious level and contributes to the Cooper subplot.
Overall probably the best that could be done in terms of service to a long-term
story with Ock as Peter.

Grade B+.  There is a lot more good than bad here, and
even more promising is seeds are being set to let the concept grow and improve
in the future.