Superior Spider-Man Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy
Collecting Superior Spider-Man #1-5
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Ryan Stegman, Giuseppe Camuncoli
Marvel Comics, $17.99, color, 120 pages
I stopped reading Spider-Man once, because it was no longer the character I grew up with. Weirdly, I am now reading Spider-Man because it's no longer the character I grew up with.
I dropped Amazing Spider-Man some time ago, because I couldn't stomach the deal-with-Mephisto business that erased Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson. Whoever made that deal, it was not the Peter Parker I had been reading about for 40 years, and with each succeeding issue that featured a man who made a deal with the devil as an avatar of heroism, the more annoyed I felt. Finally, I just quit spending money on something that made me feel badly.
Yes, it's just a comic book. But Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker had been my constant companions from elementary school to middle age, and it was more than a comic book to me. I'm fine when they reboot Superman a jillion times, but Peter Parker? That's coming too close to home.
But now I'm reading Superior Spider-Man, which is also not the Spider-Man I grew up with -- as all Marvelites know, a dying Doctor Octopus surreptitiously supplanted Parker's mind with his own, and it is Otto Octavius who now wears the face of Peter Parker and the costume of Spider-Man. So it doesn't bother me that this Spider-Man isn't "my" Spider-Man, because it's supposed to be a different Spider-Man. And as such, I evaluate it on its own merits, not how it compares to the decades of Peter Parker stories that came before it.
And it's good. It's really, really good.
Even given that we know it can't last forever. (Trademarks, etc.) And we have to swallow a couple of big ol' bites of Suspension of Disbelief that in a world of telepaths, time-travelers, sorcerers and alien technology that Ock somehow never gets caught. (Plus, you know, there's the plain old human ways he could get caught, like "you kiss differently than before" and "why is Peter suddenly listening to a lot of Sinatra?" and "Parker, why are you exchanging e-mails with Mysterio?") Also, while I admire Slott's finesse in eliding some of the ickier aspects of the body switch, like Ock deciding not to take advantage of Mary Jane sexually, it's not really plausible -- there are a lot of men who aren't even supervillains who would jump at the chance to get MJ in bed, regardless of circumstances. They wouldn't be good men, certainly, but typically lousy ones with poor morals/judgment who would convince themselves that it somehow wasn't rape -- and Ock is far, far worse than "lousy man with poor morals/judgment."
All that aside, the clever conceit at the bottom of this is that Ock is a better Spider-Man -- a superior one, as the title says. A little ruthless, sure, and not a bit worried about civil liberties, OK. But that actually works to his advantage, as he works out a city-wide surveillance system so he doesn't have to patrol; whipping up time-saving, crime-fighting gear in the lab; becoming buddies with J. Jonah Jameson; and so forth.
Now, it's also only a matter of time before all this blows up in Ock's face. As the expression goes, it's far easier for a good man to pretend to be bad than for a bad man to pretend to be good. Even if he's not found out, people are going to start to shun this no-more-Mr.-Nice-Guy Parker, from civilians to superheroes.
I assume. But I don't know. And that's really the root of my reading this book: I really don't know what's going to happen next. I can't even guess, because this is virgin territory and Slott is a very good writer.
And that's exciting. I'll be here for volume two!
Glad you liked it Cap! I'm loving this title. I'm quite a bit behind in reading it so hopefully it's still good from where I left off.
One thing about it, was I thought I knew what was going to happen. Then something happens not sure if it's this volume or the next that made me realize that it'll be a quite spectacular fashion when Peter does return. You're right we don't know what's going to happen. While it's someone different in Peter's body these still feel like Spider-man stories. A little grittier but still fun with a huge and strong supporting cast of regular favorites.
I am enjoying The Superior Spider-Man for as long as it can last and the addition of several more Superior... titles seem to indicate that it's not over yet. Not by a long shot!
But with so many ways for there to be the BIG REVEAL, it kind of ensures that someone will find out!
As far as the inappropriateness of the Superior Spider-Man hooking up with Mary Jane, it's better than AUNT MAY!!
Love this book. I'll be happy when Peter returns as Spidey, but man, this is going to be an awesome run on the title historically speaking.