Moral ambiguity is a very real and dangerous thing in this day and age. When people are being tortured it’s not the mixed results we should be worried about, but whether treating another human being as a piece of meat, whatever the circumstances, is or is not morally acceptable. Which is one reason why Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man is so flipping interesting. Even still, is it good?
Superior Spider-Man #13 (Marvel Comics)
Missed our review of Superior Spider-Man #12? Check it out here.
This issue ends the No Escape story arc which takes place on the maximum security prison known as The Raft. Last issue the Spider Slayer powered himself up using mini robots, which also gave Vulture, Boomerang and Scorpion suits of their own. J.J. gave Spider-Man the order to kill the Slayer once and for all and SpOck seems very much interested in doing the deed. A moral dilemma was struck in the final page, when Spider-Man learned Slayer sent Vulture to kill innocent folks inside the prison and Scorpion off to kill J.J. What ever will SpOck do?!
At this point it’s clear Dan Slott, who plotted this issue, will always have SpOck make decisions based on whatever it takes to achieve something. The ends justify the means, and this includes killing. The fun of the series is seeing how these morally ambiguous choices actually create more problems for the webhead. If not for himself, for others, and a reader keeping tabs on the story should be able to piece together a potentially catastrophic result of all these bad choices.
Writer Christos Gage hammers home just how uncaring SpOck is in this issue. I’m not sure if it’s clear why SpOck wants Slayer dead so badly, but it is clear he’s fine with innocent people dying if he can end Slayer once and for all. It’s also clear SpOck really has no owner. He plays life like a chess match and when Slayer lets his guard down, thinking Spider-Man would only tie him up, a surprisingly coldhearted thing happens. It’s compelling and interesting comics to say the least. You won’t be seeing stuff like this in 99.9% of the superhero comics today, let me tell you!
Don’t let your guard down!
We also get to see two other sides of the moral dilemma at work here. One deals with Vulture as the innocent folks try to talk him out of hurting them. He actually stops and thinks about his actions. He’s not some cold-blooded killer. Of course, when his powers fail what’s the first thing that happens? The head guard zaps him with glee even though he’s unarmed and unable to hurt a fly.
For the love of power.
Another interesting development is Gage’s use of the Lizard and how J.J. reacts to being saved by him. It helps separate J.J. from SpOck that he accepts Lizard instead of condemning him. J.J. is capable of forgiveness, even if he asked SpOck to kill the Spider Slayer, which helps distinguish SpOck as a morally bad guy.
I think it’s safe to say SpOck is getting less heroic and more villainous as time goes on. The scariest part is he thinks he’s doing a good job. Watching this development is intriguing and fascinating stuff.
With all this high level moral stuff going on it’s easy to neglect the art, which in all honesty is half the storytelling. Without it it’d be senseless words after all. Giuseppe Camuncoli continues to do a good job expressing the darker side of SpOck and the moral standing of the characters around him. There are times his layouts aren’t conducive to telling the story, but there’s always good movement and action to be had by his composition. Many pages read like the panels were chosen simply because, not necessarily to tell the story or affect pacing.
SpOck is a bastard.
- Looks amazing
- Art tells the moral side of the dilemmas
- Fascinating moral ambiguity at play
- If you haven’t been following you’d be lost
Once again Marvel produces a groundbreaking issue in the Superior Spider-Man line of comics. There really are things going on that I have never seen in comics take place in every single issue. Do yourself a favor and pick up the first trade and catch up. As far as single issues go this comic consistently delivers. Its only downfall is an inability to pick it up without reading previous issues and appreciating what’s going on.
Is It Good?
Yes. The most consistently good comic you should be reading.