Superior Spider-Man was one of the most invigorating and bold takes on Spider-Man possibly ever. Dan Slott and Christos Gage worked together to make an anti-hero that was at once interesting and melodramatic. Alas, that series ended, but in the last few months, thanks to Spider-Geddon and other acts, Doc Ock as Spider-Man is back. He’s in a new non-Peter body, lives in San Francisco, and is as egocentric as ever.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
This is Spider-Man with a dilapidated conscience. He’s without pity and regards others as simpletons and when they are not he brushes it off. He’s a jerk, but deep down he’s been inspired to be better. That’s a journey worth reading.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I enjoyed this first issue quite a bit even though it’s a lot of set up for casual readers. As a big-time Superior fan, this issue reminds us of the good old days, between Doc Ock treating villains in harmful and careless ways and how pompous he is in casual situations. The book opens with an action scene and proceeds to unveil how his life works these days in San Francisco. Shockingly the once evil and definitely grouchy Doc Ock has a pretty great life. Gage is integrating the Horizon organization into his life, carrying over those characters from Amazing Spider-Man and also the love of Doc Ock’s life, Anna Maria. There are structures here that were already established as strong and dynamic continuing the trend of a great series.
Gage doesn’t skip a beat on writing Superior either. His voice continues to prove he’s a jerk, but gone are the days of being pure evil which he touched on here and there. It appears sacrificing himself for Anna Maria and giving Peter Parker his body back has changed him ever so slightly. His path is now more in a heroic place, which is probably why Gage and artist Mike Hawthorne throw a massively powerful villain at him in the cliffhanger.
Speaking of Hawthorne, his style works quite well here. The inks by Wade von Grawbadger and colors by Jordie Bellaire give the book a darker tone. It’s almost as if all the fight scenes in the opening are cast by a bit of a shadow. Hawthorne draws Super Spider-Man in an edgy sort of way with hard angles and elongated limbs and torso. It gives him that spider quality but also a sort of bad boy edge. When he’s out of the suit and walking about as Dr. Elliot Tolliver, Hawthorne has given him one of those douche haircuts that makes him hard to like. At the same time, his expressions show a man who can be hurt if offended. Deep down this character is all tough exterior as he attempts to be as great as he says he is even when he’s not.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
As first issues go there’s a lot of setup and not lot of action. There’s a second action sequence that’s more of a dialogue setting up a villain that will spice up Tolliver’s life. It doesn’t quite work since it’s over before it started and it sticks out as a necessity in setting up this story but sticks out nonetheless. It’s the sort of issue some will be intrigued by, but as a superhero action comic, it’s definitely leaning towards melodrama.
Is it good?
I’m so glad this character is back in his own book. Gage and Hawthorne clearly have interesting plans for the character and the continued use of familiar characters from the original run is a great sign the high bar will continue to be achieved. This is the most unique take on Spider-Man and he’s back, better than ever.