The Superior Spider-Man 1

Alternating Currents: The Superior Spider-Man, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 1, originally released January 9th 2013.

Drew: What does it mean to be good? Is it about thought or action? That is, does a good person have only good thoughts, or are they simply keeping their bad thoughts from influencing their actions. The popular notion of a conscience as a little angel on your shoulder (or well-dressed cricket, depending on who you ask) suggests that we expect even the best people to consider less-than-savory options, even if they don’t ultimately act on them, but it’s ultimately one that we don’t see dramatized very often. Peter may want to stick around for his date with Mary Jane while a bank heist goes on up the street, but there’s never really any doubt that he’ll be jumping out the window in the next page or so. Otto Octavius doesn’t have that sense of duty, so when he battles with his conscience in Superior Spider-Man, we’re not exactly sure who is going to win.

Issue 1 begins with a little more eulogizing, but surprisingly, not for Peter. Otto is saying goodbye to his old way of life, fully accepting the responsibilities of both Spider-Man AND Peter Parker (though, for clarity, I think I’m going to keep referring to Otto-in-Peter as Otto). Otto rushes to the scene as a group calling themselves The All-New Sinister Six is in the middle of a firefight with the police. Otto steps in — seemingly more out of vanity than any sense of right and wrong — but quickly leaves because he doesn’t like getting beaten up.  Peter was willing to take it, since he saw getting violent criminals off of the street as a top priority, but Otto is more interested in winning on his terms. He wants to be in control, so he injects one of the six with “nano-spider-tracers,” which he uses to eavesdrop on their plans while he goes about Peter’s life acting like a smug douche.

By the time the Sinister Six arrives at Horizon Labs for their next job, Otto has already tricked-out everything, Home Alone style. His preparations included alerting the press, who watch as he utterly dismantles the Six. As he’s mercilessly beating Boomerang, their leader, his hand is stayed by none other than the ghost of Peter Parker (or, you know, his residual consciousness or something).

Patrick Swayze IS Peter Parker IN Ghost 2: Whoopie's Revenge

That’s a BIG reveal for fans upset at the idea of losing Peter, but may be a letdown for those who were excited at the idea of Otto in the Spidey suit. It’s hard for this not to feel like a bit of bet-hedging, but this might actually be more thrilling than having Otto on his own inside Peter’s head. It certainly seems like he hasn’t fully internalized Peter’s “no killing” rule, so he might just need a conscience keeping him in line, but it’s curious that he can neither see nor hear Peter. It’s not clear exactly what control Peter still has over his own body, but it looks like that’s going to be a major focus of this title.

Otto’s handling of Peter’s personal life is about what I expected: he’s acting like a dick, but people are willing to forgive him either because he’s so damn good at what he does, or because of the goodwill Peter has racked-up over the years. The biggest laugh (and biggest ick-factor) comes from Otto’s date with Mary Jane, where he leeringly refers to her chest as “the view.”

Insert obligatory joke about "The View" I'm too proud to make

There’s no doubt Otto has bad thoughts, but here’s hoping Peter can exert enough control to keep him from committing bad acts. Right now, I’m imagining some hilarious reverse-Cyrano de Bergerac, where Peter feeds Otto lines specifically so MJ will NOT sleep with him, but I’ll trust Dan Slott to come up with something better.

Patrick, I know we were generally pretty excited at the status quo introduced at the end of ASM 700, so I’m curious to hear what you thought of this issue’s big reveal. Did we backpedal too quickly? Were you looking forward to more of Otto’s unmitigated antics before Peter’s eventual return to make things right? Perhaps most importantly, would you watch a shot-for-shot remake of Home Alone starring Peter Parker (or Otto-as-Peter)?

Patrick: I’d watch a shot-for-shot remake of Home Alone substituting any comic book character for Kevin. It’s a modern American classic and I won’t hear otherwise.

I actually read that last page a little bit differently than you did, Drew. The premise behind the end of Amazing Spider-Man always suggested that there’d be more Peter Parker left inside that body. I don’t think what we’re seeing here is the beginning of an antagonistic relationship between Otto and Jiminy Parker. This is clearly just me hypothesizing here, but I suspect that we won’t actually see Peter’s ghost (er… whatever) for the next couple issues. Instead, this is just a promise that Peter Parker is still an active force in this world. I’ll be interested to see the extent to which this is explored, but as you mentioned, I was kinda already stoked for a new status quo. I like seeing the simple “what if” scenario of “what if Peter Parker was kind of an asshole?” I understand that this meant also dealing with the scenario “what if Peter Parker died?” and I was willing to pay that cost.

So it does kinda seem like the hedging of bets to show Peter at one with the force at the end of the issue. We all assumed he wouldn’t stay dead forever, but seriously, that was like two weeks ago. It cheapens the beautiful eulogy that was Amazing Spider-Man 700. But I want — very badly — not to judge this issue and this series based on its effect to the previous Spider-man comics. The storytelling here is so light and fun and inventive that I’m going to actively push aside my expectations, and the expectations of the Spider-man fan community, and just take in what we’ve got in front of us.

One thing I really appreciate about Otto being in Peter’s body is that the voice over boxes get to carry some very necessary exposition in a natural way. I haven’t read much Spider-man, so I don’t know these people he works with at Horizon Labs. So when Otto says “Accessing Parker’s memories… Grandy Scraps. One of my co-workers. Good natured oaf. Prone to mistakes,” I love this feeling that I’m discovering this information alongside Otto. Between that little bit of explanation and the fact that he calls The Living Brain “the Super Nintendo of robots” is all I need to get a great feel for the character and his role in Parker’s life.

Peter Parker has the Super Nintendo of Robots

It’s also super fun to see Otto fight crime in a different way. He knows exactly how the A-NS6 are going to strike, but waits to take any action so the victory is his. There’s a cool moment in this issue where Otto has a bit of a freak out when he realizes that any work he does from this point on will be the legacy of Peter Parker, not of Doctor Octavius. But that’s true of more than just his inventions. Spider-man’s legacy and Doc Ock’s legacy are now the same. Otto considers the future at the expense of the present, and he does this consistently. He lets the bad guys get away the first time because he knows he can face them more adequately if he sets traps for them next time. He blows off his date with MJ (or at least, doesn’t work very hard for the date) because he’s already planning that big press stunt for the next day.

And clearly, there’s going to a breaking point. All of those people in Otto’s ignored present will finally have enough of being ignored, and no amount of Peter Parker-based goodwill will make up for it. We can already see the cracks showing when on the tail end of the dinner. Actually, on that note, we don’t see how dinner ended, just that MJ objected to Peter drinking, and he dismissed her concerns.

(Otto) Peter Parker on a date with MJ

Even if our boy manages to claw his consciousness out from under all that Doc Ock brain, he’s going to have to put his whole life back together. And what if Peter can reclaim his mind and body — will there always be a little Otto left in there? I’m excited for the possibilities, even if they aren’t exactly the possibilities I had envisioned from this concept.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

20 comments on “The Superior Spider-Man 1

  1. First off, I really enjoyed this issue and loved seeing Otto play dress-up. Slott is being pretty inventive here and it’s a joy to see how someone else would handle Peter’s powers and the resources of Horizon. That said, it really doesn’t matter when they revealed that Peter was still alive somehow because we all know that he’s coming back. It’ll probably be just in time for The Amazing Spider-Man 2!

    As long as they give Otto enough room to breathe and fulfill the promise of this series as “Spider-Man’s arch foe BECOMING Spider-Man,” then I’ll be happy with it. I hope that you are right about that Patrick, and that we won’t be seeing too much of Peter too soon. As of now, I think it’s just allowed any upset fans to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that he’s still around somewhere.

    • Right – Peter’s appearance is just to assure us that there still is a Peter Parker out there. And I’m sure it’ll be fun to watch Peter reclaim his body, but I don’t want to do that for a LONG time. Otto’s a dick, but maybe his experience here will gradually change him for the better.

      Wouldn’t it be great if Slott could make the return of Peter Parker a tragic story? A reformed super villain pushed out of his life-boat.

      • That would be tragic, but I’d have to think that they wouldn’t want to get rid of Ock even after Peter’s eventual return. He’s a popluar and iconic Spidey villain so I’m thinking they’d have Otto return in a new body or something. Maybe have him start body jumping (after Peter finds his way back) until he’s able to create a new body that is “Deadlier Than Ever!”

  2. I did not read ASM 700, I wanted to come into this issue cold. I gotta say, I am so happy Peter already made an appearance, if for no other reason then the dinner scene. Otto eyeing up MJ’s rack abd being so patronizing made me extremely uncomfortable. I fervently hope The Ghost of Peter Parker prevents those two from hooking up. I was chatting with the guys at my LCS about it, and someone mentioned that Otto having sex with MJ would constitute rape. I was taken aback because the thought hadn’t occurred to me, and then I realized I didn’t know what I thought of it. I do know that Otto is so skeezy, I think I would rather avoid the whole situation.

    • That is actually the very first criticsm I heard about this entire scenario. We saw them make out in 700 and THAT was creepy enough so I hope that Otto makes a HUGE ass of himself that prevents any kind of rape situations. Judging by a recent teaser, Otto is going to get himself fired from Horizon pretty soon so I’m wondering if that is going to lead to Otto destroying Peter’s life entirely by alienating himself from Peters friends and family as well. That would be a good way to get some new supporting characters that belong solely to Otto AND prevent any unsavory situtations like the one you mentioned from cropping up.

      • I actually took that teaser to be about Otto getting his ass fired from the Avengers, but I suppose he could actually be getting fired from EVERYTHING. I was kind of making a joke with the reverse-Cyrano de Bergerac (as if Otto actually needed help putting his foot in his mouth when it comes to women), but it would actually be kind of a fun way for Peter to keep Otto out of MJ’s pants.

  3. Seriously, a story taking elements from Home Alone, Ghost and body-swap comedies shouldn’t be this good. Any one of these scenes would be at home in a worse story, but they come together here beautifully. I don’t get how it works.

  4. This title is hard for me. I recognize the storytelling potential we’ve got, and I think Dan Slott is talented. Seriously, when Otto was beating that guy up, I was on the edge of my seat. But I just like Peter Parker so much! It pains me to see Otto potentially ruin his life, knowing full well that Peter will be back and will have to clean up the mess. And for real, I’m not going to be able to deal with too many more date situations, that was gross.

    • I’m with you on the gross, but Peter’s life being a mess is kind of a part of his character. He was created to be the superhero with everyday problems (you know, like body-swaps), so I’m totally cool with the idea of having him come back to a life that he has to put back together again. Instead of stitching his costume back together, he’s going to have stitch up his life!

      • I feel like this book is going to turn into Game of Thrones, which I had to stop reading halfway through book three because too many bad things were happening to characters I like. The books are awesome, but I just couldn’t deal with it!

        • I suspect that MJ is safe (though who really knows — worse stuff has happened in comics), but I think Slott is definitely going to play that tension up. It’s understandable that that might be too much for some readers — I’ll admit that I regularly have to quit episodes of Frasier halfway through ’cause I still can’t handle the tension — but I’m confident that Peter’s goodness will prevail over whatever icky thoughts Otto might be having. That’s obviously the thesis of this series, and there’s clearly going to be push and pull on that, but I hope MJ is ultimately off-limits in terms of really horrible shit.

  5. I heard Doc Ock found a small dirt tunnel hidden behind a file cabinet that led directly into Peter Parker’s mind. You stay in there for about 15 minutes and then are ejected onto the side of the New Jersey turnpike.

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