This might sound like an asinine criticism, but I sometimes think Dan Slott has too much of a handle on his Superior Spider-Man creation. While Slott’s mastery of continuity and diligence to long-term planning has allowed me to enjoy the Superior Spider-Man’s eponymous series, I have found Spider Ock’s characterization in some of the “non-core” titles that he’s appeared in like Avengers and Journey Into Mystery to be less than satisfactory. I was starting to think that maybe Slott was like a crazed master chef or mathematician, who had hit upon a recipe/formula for the character but wasn’t willing or able to share it with the rest of the Marvel bullpen. And then Deadpool #10 happened and my anxieties were assuaged.
It’s not so much that I thought this issue of Deadpool was the greatest comic book of all-time, but it featured a lot of the twisted, off-the-wall fun that has helped make Superior Spider-Man such a compelling read since debuting in January. For the first time since the great status quo upheaval, I felt a creative team outside of Dan Slott/artist du jour (and to his credit, Chris Yost has done a mostly bang-up job on Avenging Spider-Man) really nailed the voice and characteristics of long-time supervillain Otto Octavius as Spider-Man.
I think where a lot of other writers have gone wrong with Slott’s creation is in these team-up scenarios, the focus is more on “it’s Doctor Octopus pretending he’s Spider-Man!” rather than, it’s Doc Ock trying to BE Spider-Man. The distinction being the Otto appearing in the Avengers complaining about his lunch being stolen from the fridge, or in the Journey Into Mystery, trying to awkwardly mack it to a Norse goddesses, just felt completely out of character from the hubris-filled, arrogant egghead who thinks he knows better than Peter Parker but is actually making the same mistakes his adversary has made for years that is showing up once every two weeks in Superior Spider-Man.
Instead, Deadpool writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan focus on the megalomaniac that is Spider Ock. He immediately interferes with Deadpool’s hit of the satirical Donald Trump character because he’s concerned by the bodies dropping “on my streets” (emphasis mine). This was such an important distinction to make about this new version of Spider-Man, and the Deadpool creative team gets to it right away. Since taking over for Peter, Otto thinks that he’s in control of the street level crooks and mobsters that are running throughout New York. So of course he would claim ownership of the streets. Deadpool senses there’s something off about Spider-Man immediately but rolls with the punches because the juxtaposition of the “Merc with a mouth” and Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man produces a couple of enjoyable one-liners and jokes.
Frankly, I also enjoyed the issue because I thought there were a number of meta-jokes that poked fun at the irrational hatred for Superior Spider-Man and Slott (and Deadpool and his writers for the case) that I’ve grown weary of encountering on a number of web sites. I understand that the new status quo shift isn’t for everyone, but there is still an element of the fan base that seems to be taking the Otto/Peter switch so personally that they have concocted some bizarre theories about why things are they way they are. Among my favorites is that Slott has an “Otto” fetish because both are rotund individuals that “hate” Peter Parker.
When Deadpool goes into his routine that Doc Ock is just “Elton John on stilts” it was a legitimate laugh out loud moment for me, and something that really has captured some of the ridiculous things that have come out of people’s mouths (and keyboards) since late December. I recently ran across a review of Amazing Spider-Man #700 on a major web site and sat there mouth agape as a an angry fan called the status quo change a terrible idea because “Doctor Octopus is an irrelevant villain.” Irrelevant to who? The Avengers? The X-Men? Because that person clearly wasn’t talking about the guy who played a key role in some of the greatest and most memorable Spider-Man confrontations of all time! Deadpool’s jokes about the situation just put the last few months of trying to convince people who aren’t even giving Superior a chance because of some kind of vendetta they have with Slott in perfect context for me.
And that’s when the whole Deadpool comic started to make sense for me. Like Slott, Deadpool’s creative team has seemingly endured a lot of the backlash from a notoriously hard to please elements of a very large fanbase. So of course the first time I like Spider Ock outside of a Spider-Man title is when he’s written by Poshen and Duggan. In many ways, Posehn and Duggan are brothers in arms with Slott. This is what it feels like when doves cry.