Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 31, originally released April 16th, 2014.
Shelby: If I learned anything from watching countless episodes of M*A*S*H* as a child, it’s that the first step of dealing with any disaster is triage. You need to assess the situation and make some quick decisions to prioritize your next steps. Usually this means letting some people in pain suffer a little while longer so you can tend to the immediately life-threatening issues. It’s only after you’ve stopped the bleeding and patched up the worse off can you step back and consider the situation as a whole; that’s the point you can begin to make some decisions about long-term fixes and really start cleaning up your mess.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 28, originally released February 26, 2014.
Patrick: There’s a persistent tension inherent to any narrative based on a lie or secret between its characters. Writer Dan Slott has been successful enough at fleshing out who exactly Otto is in the body of Peter Parker, so the issue of “will anyone find out what’s really going on?” often takes a back seat to Otto’s superheroic machinations. And yet, that tension is still there: that’s not Peter Parker, and the truth is going to infuriate people. Secret-based stories basically have two options if they’re to last — 1) reveal the mystery and let the characters deal with the ramifications of that revelation (as in Mad Men or Breaking Bad) or 2) string the mystery out ridiculously straining credibility (as in Dexter). With an end-date to the Superior franchise in sight, Slott breathlessly catapults Otto toward option one. It’s an invigorating thrill ride as all of Otto’s chickens come home to roost.
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 27, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Spencer: One of the most enjoyable aspects of a writer having a long run on a title is watching elements from earlier issues resurface in surprising ways later on down the line. I think perhaps my favorite example of this is in Jon Rogers’ pre-reboot Blue Beetle run, where Jaime Reyes managed to bring back weapons, plans, and allies from nearly every one of his earlier adventures to use in his epic endgame against the Reach. It brought a nice sense of closure and finality to the proceedings, not to mention made for a thrilling game of “catch-the-reference.” I got a similar feeling from this week’s Superior Spider-Man, where plot points writer Dan Slott has been seeding for the past 27 issues begin coming back en masse, both to Otto’s relief and to his detriment. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 26, originally released January 29th, 2014.
Spencer: The Superior Spider-Man 26 is unique in that it features three different stories—each illustrated by a different artist, no less—that do not intersect or connect at all throughout the issue. All three plots are building up to the sure-to-be-epic conclusion of Superior, but each also ruminates about identity, whether it be something as superhero-esque as secret identities or something more complex, like how memories help form a person’s core identity. You’ll find it all in The Superior Spider-Man 26, folks! Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 25, originally released January 15th, 2014.
Spencer: SPOILER ALERT: Peter Parker’s coming back.
Of course, anybody who has been keeping up with comic news in even the slightest already knows this. With news of Peter’s upcoming return in mind, it’s hard to look at The Superior Spider-Man 25 without focusing on just how exactly his return will play out and what it will mean for Otto. Fortunately, writer Dan Slott (assisted on this issue by Christos Gage) is ramping up the intrigue as this book nears its end. I have no idea how this series will resolve itself, but I do know one of the things I’m going to miss most about it: the expansive world and cast of supporting characters Slott has built up around Otto. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 21, originally released November 13th, 2013.
Patrick: Any time I join a new social group, I like to think that I’m starting over in terms of my identity. Like, I get to use all the skills and stuff I picked up over my lifetime, but I can newly define myself with a whole new set of activities and goals and values. All the previous versions of me inform this, of course, but it’s too simplistic to say that their sum is my new persona. Current Patrick isn’t Orchestra Dork + Magic: The Gathering + Ska Bands + Drama Club + RA + all the other things I’ve been. Sometimes that means letting go of things that used to seem the most important (I haven’t played a game of Magic in over a decade, and yes it feels like I’m in AA when I say that). I’m not saying I know exactly what Otto is going through, but I know, exactly, what Otto is going through. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and guest writer Michael D. are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 20, originally released October 30th, 2013.
Drew: Do you remember the first time you saw Star Wars? I can’t recall the exact circumstances, but for some reason, we watched the first half-hour of Return of the Jedi in my third grade class. It was the first time I can specifically remember experiencing a narrative out-of-order, and also the first time I so desperately wanted to go back to the start to put it all in context. That’s a sensation that I’ve become quite familiar with over the years (think of every time you’ve been drawn in by a random late-season episode of a TV series), but has become a weekly experience since I started reading comics. Comics can be particularly daunting in that light, as many series are building upon decades of continuity. Writers strive to balance honoring that history while remaining approachable to new readers, and none do it better than Dan Slott. Slott has always managed a careful regimen of harvesting threads he planted years before even as he seeds future stories, and Superior Spider-Man 20 finds him pushing the envelope on both fronts. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 19, originally released October 16th, 2013.
Shelby: Self-awareness is a very important strength to have. You need to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, to exist in the world with other people. Sometimes you need to put your head down and push through a situation, and sometimes (more importantly, I think) you need to know when you can’t do something and ask for the help you need. The problem comes in when the help you need is in the form of erased memories of a man who used to be in the body you currently occupy.
Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 18, originally released September 11th, 2013.
Shelby: I think Otto Octavius would be a terrible scientist. I know he’s brilliant, but he’s so arrogant he thinks he’s always right. He’s got no curiosity about anything because he believes he already has the right answer. He doesn’t ask questions or believe he can learn anything from anyone else. It’s a classic villain’s trait, really: the inability to think of the myriad of ways your latest scheme will fail because you are so convinced that you have all the answers. It looks like Otto is finally going to pay the price for his hubris, as his actions today could both kill him and all his friends (or, Peter’s friends, anyway), as well as destroy the future.
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 17, originally released September 4th, 2013.
Spencer: So how many of you noticed the name of the mall in Back to the Future? At the beginning of the movie it’s “Twin Pines Mall”, but then Marty travels back in time, runs over one of the former owner’s beloved pine trees, and when he returns to the present it’s now called “Lone Pine Mall.” It’s a clever joke, and part of why I love it is because it’s never pointed out or explained in the movie; it’s up to the viewer to catch it and put 2 and 2 together. Dan Slott takes a similar route in this week’s Superior Spider-Man, using time travel to tell the story of the Stone family, but allowing us to piece together the clues and figure out the story for ourselves. It brings some fun to an issue that could otherwise be viewed as a lot of set-up; the rest of the fun comes from the hints of things to come.