The Superior Spider-Man Volume 3: No Escape

Reprinting Superior Spider-Man #11-16

Writers: Dan Slott, Christos Gage (script issues #11-13)

Artists: Guiseppe Camuncoli (issues #11-13), Humberto Ramos (issues #14-16)

Marvel Comics, $17.99, color, 136 pages

This book isn't always great, but it's usually at least good -- and consistently surprising.

For those coming in late, the Superior Spider-Man is Otto "Dr. Octopus" Octavius in Peter Parker's body. Parker is, at least theoretically, dead. Not only dead, but most sincerely dead, as Octavius purged the last traces of Parker's memories from "his" brain in the last collection Superior Spider-Man Volume 2: A Troubled Mind. (Get it? Troubled mind? Heh.)

So in this collection it's all Otto, all the time. And sure, we all know that somehow Peter Parker will come back. But in the meantime, how is Otto disguising what he's done? What changes does he make in Peter Parker's life? How is the "Superior" Spider-Man different than the "Amazing" one?

This book takes it up a notch, really impressing me with Slott's control over the pacing of his story. This book gives us a "hero" who is increasingly arrogant, brutal and authoritarian with each suceeding issue. Octavius is clever enough to cover his tracks, so only one character has really twigged that he's not who he says he is. But his increasing super-villain-ish approach to superheroing -- he's got minions, for Pete's sake! -- has a number of characters catching on that something's wrong with "Peter."

But, as you'd expect, most people don't leap immediately to the conclusion that someone else is behind the wheel. Why would they? But Parker's increasingly authoritarian behavior has gotten him suspended from the Avengers. His shift in personal priorities has his friends and family feeling shut out, and his boss considering termination. And, not content with Jameson being his new best pal, Otto has pulled an out-and-out supervillain trick to put Jameson in his pocket for good. Oh, and did I mention he's committed murder and has his own island now?

And yet, Otto isn't entirely unsympathetic. Slott offers flashbacks to Octavius' childhood to explain some of his neuroses -- and his over-the-top response to some stimuli. And Otto's flirtation with a little person in his PhD classes displays a soft side you simply wouldn't expect. And, you know, he really is better at being Spider-Man ... up to the point where he gets a little carried away.

Finally, I should mention that Slott is also playing out the string on the superhero side as well, with a background story about the Green Goblin assembling a cult following and supervillain army growing in strength and speed. Not content with the appearance of change, some chagne actually happened in regard to the faux Hobgoblin, Phil Urich, that lights a fire under the Goblin story.

And the Goblin's identity is a mystery. Honest! Many folks have tried to recapture the magic of the early Amazing Spider-Man, where no one knew who anybody was and various characters with double identities constantly interacted with each other in both identities without them knowing who each other was. (Nor did the reader!) But here we have a Goblin who always elides the question "Are you Norman Osborn?" and whose true face is withheld from the reader. I genuinely don't know who he is, which is not usually the case with "mysteries" in Spider-Man comics.

Now, there are some downsides. I really don't care for Camuncoli's art, which is stiff and also makes every male look like a dyspeptic Italian. Ramos, whose work is far too cartoony for my taste, is only a minor improvement.

But, in general, Superior Spider-Man is a wild ride, but one where the reader feels comfortably in the hands of a Superior Spider-Writer.

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I've seen bits and pieces of this.  It looks good, but just not anything I want to read.

Also, I do have a very hard time swallowing that none of the people close to Peter haven't noticed how much his personality has changed.

I love this book so much.

While I am of course looking forward to Peter coming back, it will be a really sad thing when Doc Ock goes. He doesn't have a body to return to, for one thing. He may live on somehow--a robot or whatever--but it won't be the same.

I was way behind on this series. This weekend I read issues 11-24. What a wild ride. The stories in this volume were very good. I'm with Cap on the art. I do think Ramos has improved over the past couple of years though. Maybe I'm just used to it now.

SPOILERS

I like that while Otto is trying to be a "Superior" hero, he's reverting back to super villain status. The addition of minions and a base is a nice touch.

Yeah, it seems we are approaching the endgame here.  Which is too bad in a way - it's a great book - but we all knew it was inevitable.  Even though we knew the destination, it's been a heckuva journey, and Dan Slott and company have done a lot of good work with Otto Octavius.

Contrary to what Randy said, more than one character has noticed that something is definitely off with "Peter", so that has not been ignored.  No one has guessed what the truth is, but it has absolutely been addressed.

This combined with OMD/BND pretty much killed Spiderman for me forever.

I mean I'm glad someones enjoying it, but for me it's like marvel sucked all of the air out of their superheroes and left just dried husks of semi-villains. Try as I might I just can't bring myself to look at a marvel character and see a good guy anymore. I've tried but with the X-men fighting the Avengers and each other and the Illuminati blowing up worlds and Doc Ock being a better Spiderman... I just can't bring myself to do more than glance at them. Feel miserable about it, but then I miserable about most things these days.

Sorry, shouldn't have replied on this.

I originally thought that The Superior Spider-Man would last about a year and I still think that Marvel will return to Peter by the opening of Amazing Spider-Man 2. But this is one of Marvel's best titles and, more importantly, one of its most thought provoking. Otto wants to do good. He wants to honor his promise to Peter, despite obliterating what was left of his psyche. He now feels entitled to do what he deems necessary to be the Superior Spider-Man but he's burning too many bridges and crossing too many lines. There is no mercy in his actions. He saves the day to validate his existence, expecting praise, respect and awe. The fat dumpy guy is now young, handsome and strong. He has a body to match his mind but not the mentality to temper his power.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility but the Superior Spider-Man is trying to be responsible in the wrong way and is trying to solidify his power for the wrong reasons.

Can Otto Octavious survive the Great Fall that is coming? And will he be around after the finale?

Another note about this title. I like that the majority of Pete's supporting cast has stayed on. I do like the new additions to the fold though. I especially like Otto's love interest. I hope it works out for her OK when this is all over.

Even if he is said to be "dead" by the end--and I can see that happening, making the story a classic Spider-Man tragedy--I think the robot spiders and the technology used to transfer his mind in the first place would allow a back door for future writers to bring the character back with ease.

Philip Portelli said:

Can Otto Octavious survive the Great Fall that is coming? And will he be around after the finale?

I, for one, will be shocked if a clone isn't involved somewhere.

All I can say is that I trust Dan Slott at this point. He's earned it over the past several years in my book.

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