For months, Doctor Otto Octavius has been the Superior Spider-Man, using his smarts and Peter Parker’s stolen super-powered body to continue the battle against bad guys (most of whom have an animal theme for some reason.) Last month, Otto realized he had made a terrible mistake and took drastic action to defeat the Goblin King, but what does this mean for his career as Spider-Man? Your Major Spoiler review of Superior Spider-Man #31 awaits!
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #31
Writer: Dan Slott / Christos Gage
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: John Dell & Terry Pallot
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Nick Lower
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Superior Spider-Man: The plan was devilishly clever: Swap bodies with your hated foe, and live out a life as a super-powered young man while your enemy dies your death. Unfortunately for Otto Octavius, things quickly got out of hand, and he was outmaneuvered by one of his former compatriots, The Goblin King. Otto finally understood the words of Uncle Ben, and knew once and for all whom the Superior Spider-Man truly is. Thus, he wiped out his own mind, leaving only a secondary persona buried deep in his gray matter: The mind of Peter Benjamin Parker.
So. Who had April 2014 in the pool? Peter Parker is back in business, and the first order of said business is getting back in his classic Spider-suit, followed by finally confronting the man who beat Doctor Octupus: The Green Goblin. Slott and company have delivered a very interesting arc, one that mirrors a classic Batman story from a couple of decades ago, showing us that it’s not just cool powers that makes the Spider-Man. The realization that, even though his genius is quantifiably (you should excuse the expression) superior to Peter Parker’s, he could not win the day led Doctor Octopus to make the most heroic decision of his spider-career, giving up the day so that the man who defeated the Green Goblin before can do it again. Unfortunately, most of the issue finds Peter hampered by “his” recent actions, dealing with the fallout from ex-girlfriend Carlie Cooper, from his ex-teammates in the Avengers, even from the mayor’s office (occupied, you may remember, by one J. Jonah Jameson). Even stalwart Aunt May isn’t 100% sure of what has become of her baby boy, but the best response of the issue (perhaps of the entire *run* of Superior) comes from Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of the not-so-distant future. When told that Spidey was brain-swapped and that Doctor Octopus had been the one being a jerk since his arrival in the 20th century, Miguel thinks for just a moment and says, “Yeah, that sounds JUST stupid enough to be right” before both Spider-Men set out to confront the real menace…
AND SO’S MIGUEL O’HARA
The presence of Miguel/Spider-Man 2099 here is both blessing and curse for me, as I find the Alchemax subplot to be a little mystifying, with the ancestor of Miguel’s antagonist Tyler Stone being all tied up in the Goblin matter. Spider-Man discovers that Doctor Octopus had created an antidote to the Goblin serum that has been transforming the citizens of Manhattan, and confronts his most dangerous foe, with the life of Otto’s lady-love in the balance. It’s a lovely full-page moment with the Goblin taunting what he believes to be Octavius, only to have Spider-Man reply with a wise-crack, with the Green Goblin realizing that he’s once again facing his nemesis. The battle is nice, rife with references to Spider-Man continuity and previous battles with the Goblin, ending with a very skillful inversion of the ‘Gwen gets thrown off a bridge’ sequence that cements Peter as the real Superior Spider-Man, allowing him to defeat the Green Goblin and remind the readers what makes him a super-hero. (Hint: It ain’t the webby tights.) The second half of the issue features incoming writer Chris Yost, dealing with the fallout of the Goblin’s scheme as it affects Carlie, Mary Jane, JJJ and the rest of the supporting cast, including a couple of *big* (ish) changes just in time for Amazing #1 in a couple of weeks. Artistically, I really enjoyed this issue, with a Green Goblin that was terrifying, two cool Spider-Men in action and limited cheating of the eyes on Spidey’s mask to show emotion. The sequence where Peter and Norman Osborn recognize each other is very impressive, given that both men are masked throughout, and the subtle indications of future trouble with Liz Allan, Alchemax and the presence of a time-tossed Miguel is a big wrench still in the works. The only major complaint that I have with the visuals is the coloring, which seems inordinately bright and garish, with the blues of Spider-Man’s costume super-bright, and a lot of over-saturation in the greens and purples of the Goblin and his equipment.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A NICE CAPPER ON ‘SUPERIOR’
There’s even a wonderfully emotional moment as the issue wraps up, with Spider-Man realizing that his career has counted another casualty, and the setup for the new creative team is handled well. In terms of the plot, the return of Norman Osborn was huge, featuring some really creepy bits centered around grandson Normie Osborn, and the final balance of the issue ends up being about 70% resolution of the character arc of Slott’s run on the book and 30% housekeeping, putting the characters back in their containers for the next writer to use. Superior Spider-Man #31 is a surprising end to a surprising run, and features a couple of wonderfully iconic Spider-Man scenes, sticking the landing even with some over-rendered color effects for an impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. Even if we saw where the endpoint was going to be, the story made it worth taking the journey with Otto, an amazing and/or superior feat in and of itself…