Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 10, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Before Pinocchio was a “real boy” he was marionette imbued with life, but no knowledge of a conscience. So, as an obvious solution, a cricket by the name of Jiminy was tasked to be the boy’s conscience. Even with Jiminy on his side, however, Pinocchio still managed to get into heaps of trouble. Like, way more trouble than is probably appropriate for kids. Eventually though, with the help of Jiminy, Pinocchio learns what it means to listen to one’s conscience, and is rewarded with true flesh and blood life. It’s a classic tale, but what would have happened if Pinocchio kicked Jiminy Cricket to the curb instead? Would he ever have become a real boy, or would he have been fated to become a total jackass? Enter, possibly, the Superior Spider-Man.
We begin as Otto Octavius wakes up as a new man…again. He’s now 100% Parker free and is ready to “be a better hero than [we] all deserve.” First up, his spider-bots have detected a super villain gang war and heads out to put an end to it. He does, but some masked goons get away with the help of some mysterious sewer-dwellers with oddly familiar tattoos. Oh alright, they are Green Goblin tats. Meanwhile, Carlie Cooper is getting nowhere fast in trying to prove that Peter Parker is no longer himself. Back in the sewers, a very Goblin-y looking rouge hacks into the spider-bots and puts them to the test. He sends out some of his goons (this time of the flying variety) to attack Mary Jane’s nightclub. This time though, the spider-bots are seemingly blind and don’t alert Spider-Man to Mary Jane’s danger. Don’t worry though, she’s rescued by New York’s finest, and only her confidence in Spider-Man is injured. Elsewhere Spidey takes down some more baddies, while back down below, the true threat that has been lurking throughout this issue reveals his face.
Alright, so I’m not too sure who this Goblin King is. I mean, he just looks like Green Goblin to me. Is he just the Green Goblin? I guess that isn’t super important as of yet though I have been curious to see Osborn vs. Octavius since this whole Superior mess started. Regardless, “King Gobby” has succeeded in pulling the wool over Spider-Man’s head for the first time that I’m aware of. One of the things that make Superior Spidey so “superior” is arguably his spider-bots so I think it’s telling that the Goblin King goes after them first. His attack seems to be systemic, and we’ve just seen the very beginning of it. Whoever this Goblin is, it’s going to be interesting seeing this new Spider-Man face off against someone who is potentially more than a match.
What’s more interesting to me right now though is that the true experiment behind Superior Spider-Man has begun. Since it’s inception, we were promised a new Spider-Man, but, up until now, we’ve really only gotten half of one. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying this series, including ghost-Peter acting as Otto’s conscience. It’s been fascinating watching Peter try to take back his life while at the same time trying desperately to show Otto how to be a true hero. However, there have been many fans of this series criticising Peter’s continued presence. For a variety of reasons they wanted him gone, and now they have their wish. However harsh, finally, Peter Parker is dead, long live Peter Parker. In the experiment of Superior Spider-Man, Peter has always felt like a confounding variable to me. Could we ever really believe that Otto could truly change if we felt that Peter was pulling his strings in any way? We are now free of those concerns, but a whole new one naturally pops up to replace it. Free of Peter, can Otto truly remain a hero? Perhaps a bigger question though, has he ever truly been one? How much has Peter really been influencing his decisions? Otto was mostly unaware of Peter’s existence so even though we’ve seen Otto do heroic things, it’s unclear of how much of that was really him. Take a look at the following scene as Mary Jane tracks “Peter” down for a chat.
Otto can’t even talk to Mary Jane without Peter floating around in his head. What else isn’t he going to be able to do? He’s relied on Pete’s memories to get through pretending being Peter, but has he also, even subconsciously, been relying on Peter’s memories to get through being Spider-Man? Without Peter constantly nagging him, will he remember his oath? Will he remember what it means to be a hero, or will he return to his villainous roots? One of the biggest treats of this series is that it has allowed us to really dig into character questions like that. Now that Peter is gone, I’m sure that Dan Slott will be asking himself those questions which, in turn, will spur even more questions and speculation from his fans. Love it or hate it, Superior Spider-Man has been interesting as hell, and this issue promises to continue that trend.
Patrick, where did you fall on ghost-Peter? Did you think he was a help or hinderance to this series? Now that he’s gone, how long do you think Otto can pull this whole thing off? Do you think he can truly change, or will he just go dark again? There I go again, SO MANY QUESTIONS. But hey, that’s what makes this series so much fun right?
Patrick: The questions definitely do make this series fun. For everything Peter Parker brings to the table as the hero of his own series, moral ambiguity wasn’t anything you’d expect of a Spider-Man comic. That’s part of what made losing him so hard for some fans to accept: even the most brightly shining beacon of goodness and responsibility can fail. Peter died a saint, so when his spirit stuck around, like a pair of narrative training wheels, I was pretty bummed. It doesn’t seem fair to Spider-Men (superior or otherwise) to have to share that body.
But now that Otto’s alone in there, your question of “can he pull this whole thing off?” does seem to come to the fore. Otto may not have the wherewithal to deal with MJ anymore, but he’s basically just opted not to deal with her at all. And why should he? He’s already got a girl better suited to the New Peter. This was actually one of my favorite details of the issue: Otto got the alert about the fire at MJ’s nightclub, but he chose to delegate that responsibility to the proper authorities. He followed up with them afterwards to make sure it was addressed, but it’s a bold statement that he’s done being MJ’s knight in shining armor. Pointedly, MJ assumes it’s Peter rescuing her, but it’s just some hunky fireman. Most of that fire-rescue scene plays out opposite Otto’s date with Anna Maria, and (in the digital copy anyway) these pages are directly adjacent to each other, with starkly opposed color palettes – blue for the date and red for the fire.
It’s all about Otto’s priorities being different from Peter’s. We can fight (and have fought) about make makes his intentions more or less heroic. In fact, Slott pushes the conversation into extremely literal territory as the argument breaks out at his aunt May’s dinner table. We’re supposed to be uncomfortable with what Otto’s doing, we’re supposed to disagree about what exactly is going too far. I think we all recognize that this Spider-Man is more effective, but beyond that, we all end up drawing our own lines. I’m eager to see just how far Slott tests our conception of what’s the appropriate price to pay for such an effective hero.
But that’s only the philosophical backbone of this series – there’s an awful lot of meat on ‘dem bones. Likely enough to get a stew going. with a tougher Spider-Man on the streets, the villains are forced to Give Up or Get Serious. It seems like Goblin King (who I would bet is just Green Goblin, pulling a Michael Jackson and declaring himself as royalty) is the first to really organize the Get Serious option. I’m not familiar with the deeper cuts of Spidey’s rogue’s gallery, but the thought of them all united against Spider-Man is pretty fucking cool. Perhaps that’s not as fraught with psychological tension as bluffing his way through a date with Mary Jane, but it does continue to challenge Otto on his own terms. and given what we’ve seen of his crime fighting so far, I can’t wait to see that play out.
There’s one more threat to Otto’s livelihood, and that’s the police. It seems like all the cops have noticed that there’s something weird about Spider-Man: one mentions that he never leaves funny little notes anymore and another says that he’s not funny anymore. But the cops are also united in their support of Spider-Man. When Captain Watanabe investigates Massacre’s shooting, none of the officers on the scene are willing to throw Spidey under the bus. Slott and artist Ryan Stegman make a specific point of showing us a quick variety of police perspectives – all of which vouching for Otto.
I always wondered what Carlie hoped to achieve by proving that Spider-Man wasn’t really Spider-Man anymore. I mean, you can’t arrest him for being Doc Ock – he’s technically not. But if the authorities determine that Spider-Man’s actions are illegal, then they can take action against him. Man, it’s like everyone needs to decide what they think of this new Spider-Man, huh?
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