Brand new, for better and for worse
Marvel’s continuity for Spider-Man is one of the more confusing superhero stories out there, but the basics at least are well established—missing (dead or otherwise) parents, bitten by a spider (radioactive or otherwise), continuity nod to wrestling, let’s make some quips and beat up extremely ridiculous themed villains now please.
Which is why the fact that the movies all fixate on telling Spider-Man’s origin stories is a little puzzling. They could easily have made a storyline like the latest comic series, The Superior Spider-Man, without requiring viewers to know the complete history up to this point.
The Superior Spider-Man is the follow-up to The Amazing Spider-Man. The latest run of Amazing Spider-Man has been a good one, and ended the series with a wildly polarizing reveal where Doctor Octopus (Dr Otto Octavius, or Doc Ock) swaps minds with Peter Parker, trapping Spider-Man in Ock’s feeble, dying body, taking over as Spider-Man.
The Superior Spider-Man No.1 (Comixology, Rs.220) takes off from this point, and there are a lot of things to like about the new series. From a writing perspective, Dan Slott handles Doc Ock/Spider-Man really well. He’s fighting the villains, but he’s motivated more by ego than a sense of justice, and he’s much more aggressive and unpredictable than Peter Parker was.
The problem is the changes in “Peter’s” attitude seem to be something that only we readers notice—his boss and his girlfriend don’t see anything particularly out of the ordinary in his behaviour. Spider-Man’s fights show the new personality more effectively, and the villains seem to realize and react to this as well. Doc Ock’s Spider-Man is also much more violent than Peter Parker’s—in the last Amazing Spider-Man, there’s a scene where he smashes the Scorpion’s face, tearing his jaw off.
In the new issue there’s a similar moment which leads to the big twist in the series, which is actually fairly predictable though not disappointing. Just before Spider-Man can deal the killing blow in this issue, something stops him.
Peter Parker’s spirit is able to exert some control over Spider-Man and keep him from killing again. The issue ends soon after, which suggests that at some point we’re going to see Peter Parker taking over his body again, and that’s not as bad as some fans on the Internet are claiming.
The art is also fantastic—there’s a sense of movement in the panels which makes you want to race through the pages the first time you’re reading the issue. There are fine nuances to appreciate later as well—small touches, like changes to the design of Spider-Man’s costume—but the fluid art keeps you flipping the pages.
There are interesting shifts in perspective and angles for the panels as well, which help the issue to stand out from the earlier issues, and the style itself is definitely pleasing.
On the other hand, the writing does make this feel a little rushed. There’s a lot to explore with Doc Ock as Spider-Man, and we have to hope that Marvel is willing to let this storyline continue and develop properly instead of rushing back to the status quo.
The Superior Spider-Man No.1 launched on 9 January and is available for download on Comixology for Rs.220.