For the past year and change, the “Superior” status quo has made the Spider-verse a topsy turvy place – you know, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! And yet, after 14 months of Otto Octavius’s presence inside of Peter Parker’s body, I think his appearance in the recently released Wolverine #2 (vol. 6) may be the wackiest, most upside-down Spider Ock story we’ve received to date.
Just to put all disclaimers upfront, I haven’t purchased a new Wolverine comic book since I was in junior high school and Larry Hama and Marc Silvestri were the creative forces behind the character. The only reason why I checked out this particular issue is because former Superior Spider-Man artist Ryan Stegman is on the book, and since I enjoy his Todd McFarlene-esque pencils, I wanted to make sure I owned a copy of what I’m assuming is going to be his very last Spider Ock story before things revert back to Peter in April. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to talk about this comic on Chasing Amazing until after I read it, and I got the urge to address a couple of things that I found interesting/worth spouting into cyberspace.
Pre-Superior, the Spider-Man/Wolverine dynamic was always an interesting one, and something I touched upon in a little more detail when I wrote about the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot last summer. Obviously, a lot has changed between these two characters since that one-shot was released in the mid-1980s, and while I think Logan has a tendency to treat Spidey a bit too much like he’s a pain-in-the-neck kid brother who always wants to tag-along and spoil the fun for the grown-ups, there is unquestionably a relationship there that is unique and fun to read about in certain contexts and settings.
Since Otto took over, the Spider-Man/Wolverine relationship has mostly been reduced to Wolverine noticing something ain’t right about Spidey, but not having any tangible evidence that provides any credence for his suspicions. And since Wolverine is a fairly disaffected kind of guy outside of his interactions with Spider-Man, there’s really no reason for Wolverine to dwell too much on Spidey’s change of personality. So to have Logan in Wolverine #2 essentially seek advice from Spider-Man about how he found the nerve to fully disengage from his old set of morals and standards (of course overlooking the fact that the reason why Spidey is acting so differently is because he’s not actually Peter), is an eye-opener.
Of course, because I don’t read Wolverine with any regularity, I can’t comment on whether or not Paul Cornell’s script paints an accurate picture of the character at this point in history. I imagine that Wolverine fans probably have to deal with a lot of the same kinds of things Spider-Man fans should be accustomed to by now – the popularity of the character (and the sales of their comics) dictate the need to constantly tweak things until something huge inevitably comes along that shakes everything up. Without having read the first issue of the series, I’m under the impression that this latest reboot of Wolverine shows the character – who is physically weaker thanks to a loss of his healing factor power – acting as a hired assassin of sorts for some questionable people, and he’s now trying to justify how this new role makes his already muddy morals and ethics even muddier.
What I can say is, if this is indeed the direction Cornell and Stegman are taking their Wolverine series, then bringing in the Superior Spider-Man at this point is indeed a wise move. There have been other instances of Marvel milking the last few drops out of Spider Ock’s popularity before things change again in April with unsatisfactory results, but I found myself sincerely liking Wolverine #2. I thought Cornell’s characterization of Spider Ock was spot-on – showing the full range of his ego and hubris, while also demonstrating how being Spider-Man for the past year has actually changed Otto’s personality in many ways (could you really see a non “superior” Doc Ock serving as a sounding board for Logan, even if Otto is essentially mocking his “fascinating self-examination?).
Additionally, Spider Ock’s final piece of wisdom for Logan is very sound, while also remaining quintessentially Otto (and punctuated with him pushing Wolverine off the roof of a building). He tells Wolverine that rather than falling into the same cycles of self-destructive behavior, “just don’t fall.” In other words, if you really want to change the kind of person you are, then you just have to go about and change who you are. Sounds simple enough, but it’s one of those quandaries that most of us have been unable to crack about ourselves forever.
I have no idea what kind of long-term impacts this storyline will have on either Wolverine or Spider-Man, but it didn’t change the fact that as a short diversion from the main Superior arc (though this issue does unquestionably take place in the midst of “Goblin Nation”) I was a fan. I mentioned a few months ago that we’re now well past the point of their being a learning curve for any comic writer not named Dan Slott being able to write Spider Ock, but I think after this issue, Cornell might have a really interesting take on the character provided he’s not completely wiped from existence in a few months.
All images from Wolverine #2 (vol. 6): Paul Cornell, Ryan Stegman, Mark Morales & David Curiel. Cover by Stegman and Edgar Delgado.