TITLE: The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No Escape
AUTHORS: Dan Slott, Christos Gage
PENCILLERS: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Humberto Ramos
COLLECTS: The Superior Spider-Man #11-16
RELEASED: November 20, 2013
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
This book has the wrong title. Instead of No Escape, it should really be No Rules. At this point, with the Superior Spider-Man (who, remember, is Otto Octavius’ mind in Peter Parker’s body) totally free of influence from Peter Parker’s consciousness, he’s free to do things his way. And as we find out in this book, that means most traditional superhero rules are out the window.
When we open No Escape, Alistair Smythe, a.k.a. the Spider-Slayer, and the man who killed Mayor J. Jonah Jameson’s wife, is scheduled to be executed at the Raft maximum security prison. Jameson brings in Spider-Man to ensure Smythe’s sentence is carried out. But of course, as Jameson himself says, “…madmen like Smythe always have some kind of escape plan.” And indeed, he does. It involves the Vulture, Scorpion, Boomerang, and a fight to the death. Later, Spidey takes the fight to both the Kingpin and the Hobgoblin in a manner most definitely not Spidey-like. In effect, it’s villain vs. villain.
What I really enjoyed about No Escape is the way Otto, for better or worse, makes the Spider-Man identity his own. In issue #14, the costume changes to incorporate MUCH more black. Also, in a change befitting Doctor Octopus, Spidey now wears a back pack with four retractable arms. To add to his legion of Spider-Bots, our anti-hero has now constructed the much larger Arachnaughts, and has recruited an army of “Spiderlings” to carry out his bidding (“Minions, attend me!”). He marches his new forces straight up to Shadowland, the Kingpin’s fortress in the middle of New York City, and friggin’ tears the damn thing down with the intent to murder the crime boss. Granted, he keeps all the civilians safe via force field. But even so, attempting to murder a supervillain via the destruction of an occupied building is hardly heroic, is it? Nor is the way the Superior Spidey deals with Phil Urich, a.k.a. the Hobgoblin, by “outing” him via a broadcast to all of New York City, creating a hell of a hazard in the offices of The Daily Bugle. Heck, we even see him blackmail Jameson to get him under his thumb! Not to mention what ends up happening to Smythe…
Obviously, Slott is using Otto to feed some of our innate desires to give supervillains what they really deserve. Superior Spidey is doing things to them that they’d have no problem doing to innocent people. Thus, a darker brand of justice is served. I suspect we’ll eventually get to see all of this come back to bite Spidey, however, whether it’s Peter Parker or Otto Octavius under the mask. This would, of course, illustrate that despite the short-term satisfaction gained from Otto’s methods, they’ve ultimately only created larger problems.
We also see a bit more of Anna Maria Marconi, Peter/Otto’s little person love interest, in this book. Slott continues to endear her to us, and quite frankly, she’s become the Ahsoka Tano of the Spider-Man universe. We know something bad is going to happen to her. Either she’s going to have her heart broken when Peter eventually returns to his rightful role as Spider-Man, or Otto’s going to do something dastardly and she’ll be swept up in it. Either way, the more her relationship with Peter/Otto grows, the greater the impact will be when that other shoe finally falls. So kudos to Slott and the creative team for making me care about this character. But man, talk about backing the wrong horse…
No Escape had a tough act to follow. It’s predecessor, A Troubled Mind, gave us a truly epic confrontation between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius. This book doesn’t have anything like that. But make no mistake about it, the magic is still there. From a quality standpoint, The Superior Spider-Man is still one of Marvel’s top books. Call me a blasphemer if you must, but I feel no great need to give Peter Parker his body back any time soon.
Image 1 from twilitdreams.wordpress.com. Image 2 from followingthenerd.com.