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.
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
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
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.
Spencer: Identities change all the time in comics. Sometimes our Robins grow up into Red Robins or Nightwings; sometimes our Miss Marvels attain the rank of Captain Marvel; sometimes, rarely, Doctor Octopus can even become Spider-Man himself! This week’s issue of Superior Spider-Man again features Phil Urich, the former heroic Green Goblin and the current thief Hobgoblin, as he takes on yet another new identity and begins a new era of his life. What does this mean for Phil, and for that matter, what does it mean for Otto?!
Spencer: A comic book needs more than just a good hero to work; it needs a supporting cast, it needs villains, it needs a world that feels alive and fleshed out. While super-hero comics exist in a shared universe, the best titles manage to carve a little niche out of that universe for themselves to thrive in, and there are few books on the shelf right now that do it better than The Superior Spider-Man. Otto takes a backseat in this month’s issue as Phil Urich—A.K.A. the Hobgoblin—moves into the spotlight, accompanied by a hoard of heroes and villains alike who want to see him taken down. It’s a blast.
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. Continue reading
Patrick: How do we measure the “good” a superhero does? By how many supervillains they fight or alien worlds they protect? Or maybe by how many times they save the world? Those are some impossible benchmarks to understand — no matter what kind of life you lead, you’re never going to meet someone who achieves victory on the scale of an Avenger. That level of “good” is alien. Real life heroes address much more personal issues — hunger, disease, poverty, crime. Y’know, like a doctor. Hey, wait, Dr. Octavius is a doctor. Continue reading