Superior Spider-Man #3 Review
By Diego Chi
February 13, 2013 - 14:04
Writer(s): Dan Slott
Penciller(s): Ryan Stegman
Colourist(s): Edgar Delgado
Letterer(s): Chris Eliopuolos
Cover Artist(s): Ryan Stegman
Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman have boldly stepped into uncharted territory with their version of Spidey in Superior Spider-Man. Extremely complicated uncharted territory. Let's recap: Otto Octavius (Doctor Octopus) managed to cheat death by putting his mind into the body of Peter Parker. Otto has all of Peter's powers and can access Peter's memories. Upon seeing the reasons Parker became Spider-Man, Otto decides to reform, to be an even superior version of the hero. Now Otto/Spidey is doing his best to live out a new life as Peter Parker, fighting Spider-Man's villains and fraternizing with Peter's friends. All the while, a ghost specter of the real Peter is observing and commenting on everything, although it's unclear if Otto can actually see or hear him. Everyone up to speed? If not, check out Dan Horn's review of SSM #1
Issue #3 showcases the best parts of the Otto/Spidey dynamic. Otto's incredible intellect makes him an impressive and confident hero. There is never a moment of doubt in his plans, never a development that seems unanticipated. He also has a history with every villain he faces- their strengths, weaknesses, motivations. In this issue, facing Adrian Toome (the Vulture) Otto/Spidey tries to appeal to Toome's motivations: offering Toome plenty of money for retirement, a means to leave the life of crime. Toome naturally assumes Spider-Man must be lying and the fight between them ensues. Otto was always a villain who fought ferociously, and that attitude is still present in his new "heroic" form as well. Otto must learn to find the line between defeating criminals and pummeling them into bits, as it might create distrust in those who knew Spider-Man in the past.
To say the least, Dan Slott is in a new frontier with Superior Spider-Man. Every Peter Parker fan desperately wants Otto to fail, and at the same time can be amazed at how well Octavius plays the hero. He is a brilliant tactician, a science and technology expert, and extremely confident in his abilities. Reading Otto's interactions with Parker's supporting cast is tense and riveting, as Otto is constantly avoiding arousing any suspicion. Here's where I applaud Slott: Otto doesn't want to be caught because he actually likes being Parker. Otto likes being a better Spider-Man than Parker. He likes being a better Parker than Parker.
In great benefit to the series, Ryan Stegman consistently proves to be an excellent artist choice. His Spider-Man poses are striking, his layouts and pacing for action are smart and a pleasure to read. Stegman has also perfectly executed the nuances of facial expressions in the supporting cast, from J. J. Jameson's proud anger to Carlie Banks' suppressed suspicion.
Rooting for the lying anti-hero is what makes TV shows like Dexter or House of Cards so compelling. Dexter's penchant for killing or Francis Underwood's ruthless ambition are disturbing in their own right, not unlike Otto's hostile takeover of another man's body. The difference? Slott has yet to reveal in Otto likable qualities, versus Dexter's love of family or Francis' loyalty. The Amazing Spider-Man lasted seven-hundred issues because of the strength of Peter Parker, not simply the prowess of Spider-man. If Slott can connect his readers with Otto, he has set up the series for a home run. I just hope he can keep from striking out until then.
Superior Spider-Man #3 Review
A Second Take On The Superior Spider-Man #1
The Superior Spider-Man #1 Review