Tag Archives: Doctor Octopus

A Review of Superior Spider-Man: Necessary Evil – The Future is Back

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 4: Necessary EvilTITLE: The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 4: Necessary Evil
AUTHOR: Dan Slott
PENCILLERS: Ryan Stegman, Giuseppe Camuncoli
COLLECTS: The Superior Spider-Man #17-21
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: January 15, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Necessary Evil doesn’t really pick up steam until we’re past the halfway point, when Otto Octavius (who remember, is in Peter Parker’s body), makes a major change to his status quo, and has an emotional yet confusing reunion with an old flame. But before those things happen, the timestream becomes a tangled web in its own right, as the present and the future become intertwined.

In the year 2099, Tyler Stone, head of the Alchemax corporation, is being erased from the fabric of history. Thus, Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, and Stone’s biological son, travels through time to find the source of the problem in the year 2013. Low and behold, he finds Peter Parker acting very strangely, and is at odds with his grandfather Tiberius Stone, who has been developing technology for use against the present-day Spider-Man. Thus, to keep his family’s lineage intact, not to mention the fabric of time, Miguel O’Hara must face off against the Superior Spider-Man!

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 4, Spidey 2099While I have nothing against the 2099 universe, from a plot standpoint, the first three issues in this book represent the low point of The Superior Spider-Man thus far. The time portal at Horizon Labs leads nicely into the creation of Parker Labs, Otto/Peter’s own corporate empire. But the saga of Miguel, his father, and the potential unraveling of the 2099 status quo left me feeling bored.

That being said, the blue costume is still pretty damn cool, as is seeing it in battle against the Superior Spidey outfit. Ryan Stegman gives us an epic two-page spread in issue #17 (shown at left). He also draws the literal “unraveling” of Miguel and Tyler Stone very well. But what takes the cake as far as Stegman is concerned is the creepy memory sequence in issue #19, in which classic Steve Ditko and John Romita panels are used with Otto’s face in place of Peter/Spider-Man’s. It creates a creepy, eerie vibe that meshes wonderfully with the idea that Otto’s villainous impulses are starting to get the better of him. Thus, the art works very well, despite a story that’s somewhat bland overall.

014-200x300Thankfully, things get back in track in issue #20, when we get the highlight of the book: A scene between Black Cat and Superior Spidey. In the scope of the series as a whole, the scene has no long-term ramifications (at least not yet). But it’s got that great Spider-Man humor/action balance. Spidey encounters Black Cat on a rooftop, and when she comes at him with her “Hello Lover,” routine, he punches her in the goddamn face, and then webs her up for the cops. In the best possible way, it’s exactly what you’d expect from an Otto/Felicia Hardy encounter. What’s more, Giuseppe Camuncoli gives Cat just the right amount of sex appeal, and beautifully turns her from welcoming, to shocked, to enraged within the span of three pages. He’s also excellent with the furry pieces of her costume.

Angelina Brancale, a.k.a Stunner, awakens from a coma. Quick history lesson: Angelina is an obese woman who became a guinea pig for a virtual reality technology created by Doctor Octopus. As such, she was able to become the muscle-bound Stunner. Stunner and Otto eventually fell for each other. Eventually, to save Otto’s life, Angelina takes part in a ritual that places her in a coma. When she wakes up and learns that Otto was “killed” by Spider-Man, she uses Otto’s old virtual reality technology to become Stunner again. The ensuing battle places Otto/Peter’s current flame, Anna Maria Marconi, in harm’s way, and Otto is forced to confront Angelina with the truth. This results in a genuinely sad scene between the two. Surprisingly, Otto doesn’t come out of the situation looking like a heel. He’s simply a man following his heart. You don’t have to do any research on Stunner to get the gist of what her relationship to Otto is, and how impacted and heartbroken she is by his apparent death. From a certain standpoint, she’s a rather sympathetic character.

The Superior Spider-Man, Anna Maria MarconiSpeaking of sympathy, poor Anna Maria Marconi still has no idea of the heartbreak she’s (presumably) in for. In addition to the returns of Black Cat and Stunner, issue #20 also sees Otto/Peter take Anna Maria out on a picnic dinner above the city on a sheet of webbing, the life of which has now been elongated indefinitely until “I activate a dissolving agent. I always try to keep improving.” To yours truly, this scene cuts the premise of Peter Parker developing technology for Spider-Man a bit too close. It’s a really nice visual. But during a moment like this, an alarm should be going off in Anna’s head. “Hey, wait a minute. This dude might not just be Spider-Man’s tech guy…”

While the 2099 elements were, from my perspective, a flop, Dan Slott continues to give us good Spider-Man. Necessary Evil just doesn’t represent his best Spider-Man. And as far as The Superior Spider-Man is concerned, hopefully the best is yet to come.

RATING: 7/10

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from jthenr-comics-vault.tumblr.com. Image 3 from spidermanreviews.com.

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A Superior Spider-Man: No Escape Review – A Sinister Spidey

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No EscapeTITLE: 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
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $17.99
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.

Superior Spider-Man #14What 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…

Superior Spider-Man, to the deathObviously, 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.

RATING: 8/10

Image 1 from twilitdreams.wordpress.com. Image 2 from followingthenerd.com.

A Superior Spider-Man: My Own Worst Enemy Review – Invasion of the Body Switcher

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst EnemyTITLE: The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy
AUTHOR: Dan Slott
PENCILLER: Ryan Stegman, Giuseppe Camuncoli
COLLECTS: The Superior Spider-Man #1-5
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: May 29, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The Superior Spider-Man is one of the few superhero titles I’ve ever read that really has the total package. It’s got action, drama, comedy, new characters, classic characters used in new and interesting ways, an agonizing predicament for our hero. In terms of a new Spider-Man series, there’s really not much more you can ask for.

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst EnemyPeter Parker is dead…sort of. In the final issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, a dying Dr. Octopus switched bodies with the wall crawler. A short time later, despite his best efforts, Peter died in his old enemies frail body. But in taking Spider-Man’s body, Otto also gained access to Peter’s memories. After seeing all his old enemy has gone through, Otto is inspired to leave his life as a villain behind and pick up where Peter left off. Vowing to become a superior Spider-Man, he takes to the city streets. But although he has Peter’s memories, Otto hasn’t absorbed all of Parker’s noble resolve. And he certainly isn’t playing by the same rules. In some ways, Otto will indeed improve on what Peter started. But in others he’ll take a decidedly darker, more violent approach. But even the brilliant Otto doesn’t know that a small part of Peter still exists inside his mind…

It’s a lot of fun to read The Superior Spider-Man. More than anything, what impresses me about My Own Worst Enemy is is the way Slott and the creative team use this predicament between Otto and Peter as a tool for both comedy and drama. In some ways, Octavius is very much the mustache-twirling supervillain here. he talks to his colleagues like they’re minions, when he’s in the lab he dresses like a mad scientist, and he lets the creepy supervillain laugh loose in public. He’s also more than a little excited about getting the girl, i.e. Mary Jane Watson. Some of the things Ryan Stegman does with Otto/Peter’s body language is great.

Superior1_04But at the same time, there’s some pretty heavy stuff happening here. We flash back to Otto’s childhood traumas and see how they continue to influence him. He beats a few supervillains half to death, including his old pal the Vulture when they unknowingly hit too close to home. And inevitably, we get the “Why don’t I just kill the bad guys?” question. It’s great character work, and it humanizes Otto very well. We’re rooting for Peter, of course. But we’re also rooting for Otto to learn the correct lessons and do the right thing. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. Such is the way of things, I suppose.

One of my favorite Chicago area comic book writers, Dirk Manning, once wrote that Dan Slott was born to write The Amazing Spider-Man. As it turns out, he may also have been born to write The Superior Spider-ManMy Own Worst Enemy is a story which provides the darkness you’d expect from an in-depth look at a villain like Doc Ock. But it manages to balance it with the action and humor fans come to expect from good Spider-Man stories. And despite the controversy this series sparked, this is good Spider-Man.

RATING: 9/10

Images from comicvine.com.

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