“If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dream
Where immobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop
Could you find me?
Would you kiss my eyes?
To lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again”
– Van Morrison
Well, I can’t say I’m totally surprised by the big reveal at the end of Superior Spider-Man #1, but I sorta expected Dan Slott and Co. were going to string people along for a little while before they demonstrated what rational and calm Spider-Man fans have been saying since the controversial ending of Amazing Spider-Man #700 was first leaked a few weeks ago – that Peter’s “death” was all part of a larger story. That the status quo would at some point be, if not restored, then at least hit a point of familiarity. And that Marvel would never, in a thousand years, irreparably damage its greatest money-making property. However, I still want to applaud Slott, Stephen Whacker, Ryan Stegman and everyone else involved with SSM #1 for doing the right thing and revealing their intentions from the get-go, rather than troll a fanbase that clearly wasn’t mentally equipped to deal with any kind of trolling.
If you’re somebody who swore off of Spider-Man comics after the ending of ASM #700, all I can say is stop what you’re doing and go out and pick up a copy of Superior, because you’re inevitably going to miss out on one of the better stories in the character’s history – a true comeback tale that will rival Spider-Man lifting many tons of steel over his head in order to grab the serum needed to save his Aunt May. Peter finding his way back from the astral plane to regain his body, will be his most challenging and exciting battle of all – significantly better than getting an unstoppable foe to fall into a pit of wet cement so he could be temporarily immobilized. Simply put, any anxieties I had about the new status quo have been extinguished, and I’m now completely at the mercy of Slott, as I surrender myself to the next twist and turn in this story. It might take 12, 50 or 100 issues of Superior Spider-Man before we get there, but after everything Slott has demonstrated over the past five or six years, I trust what he’s doing, even in those moments where I’m not 100 percent comfortable with it.
And yet, Superior #1 was entertaining all the same. Otto Octavius trying to live by the morals and ethics of Spider-Man was fun. His condescending interactions with Mary Jane, Max Modell, and his rogues gallery was enjoyable to read and linger in. Stegman’s art was a welcome addition to the Spider-Man universe,
while it appears he’s only initially onboard for a few issues and I’m looking forward to seeing his work in concert with some of the other artists working on this book. He’s definitely a perfect compliment to Humberto Ramos, who’s been Slott’s right-hand man for most of ASM’s watershed moments.
I can not praise this issue enough, and it’s not just because a version of Peter Parker from the beyond showed up at the end. Go back and read my thoughts on ASM #700. From the get-go I argued that for all intents and purposes, Peter Parker was still alive. His body was alive. His memories and morals were still alive. The only thing that made things a little different from the usual status quo was the fact that the mind of Otto Octavius was co-habitating Peter’s body. But if the body and soul are in tact, how “dead” can a person be? As Mark Twain once said, “the reports of (Peter Parker’s) death have been greatly exaggerated.”
There’s a lot of wiggle room for Slott and Marvel to go from here. Personally, I predict a pure inadvertent destruction of Parker’s life being carried out by Spidey Ock. His arrogance and social pariah status will eventually cast him out of all of the relationships that mattered most to Peter – his family, the Avengers and Horizon Labs. In a twist, the city and its power structure will likely embrace this more aggressive Spider-Man, but those who knew what made Spidey different from your standard costumed vigilante will likely be turned off by Otto’s personal failings. And this will be the greatest rebuilding project of all-time for Peter – for who’s going to truly believe that he wasn’t in charge of his own body for whatever period of time Doc Ock was in control. It’s the superhero version of identity thief, where someone gets your credit cards, e-mail password and Facebook account.
One of the big questions I was left to contemplate when the news that ASM #700 was going to be the “final” issue of Amazing Spider-Man, was how was this going to affect my collection and my chase. I’m still determining the right answer to this question. On one end, issue #700 is an appropriate bookend – 700 is a large number of anything, and if I eventually track down those final five issues of ASM that I’m missing, having 700 consecutive issues of Spider-Man in my collection is no small feat (and no cheap one either). And yet with the ending to Superior, the only question that remains is whether or not they count the XX number of SSM as part of the ASM continuity or not. If they do, that means I’m going to have to keep collecting and counting this issues as part of my larger quest. But this is all ultimately irrelevant, because the key part for Marvel and for all of you out there who had their doubts, I intend to keep reading and following Slott on this journey. Not out of obligation, but because I truly want to see what happens next.
All images from Superior Spider-Man #1: Dan Slott, Ryan Stegman, Victor Olazaba & Edgar Delgado