Is January's ALPHA Reprint a SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN Clue?


OK, so the Spider-Man starring in Superior Spider-Man isn’t Peter Parker — something that was made clear repeatedly throughout New York Comic Con, by folks intimately involved in the situation including writer Dan Slott and editor Steve Wacker.

That, of course, means rampant speculation. So here’s some more.

Marvel’s solicitations for January 2013 established a Jan. 9 release date for Superior Spider-Man #1. And then out one week later:


ALPHA #0.1



• A special encore presentation of the instant-classic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692!

• Get ready for an all-new tale about a different kind of power and responsibility...


32 PGS./Rated T ...$2.99

That’s a reprint of Alpha’s debut appearance from back in August, an issue dubbed by Marvel “the one, true 50th Anniversary Issue of the Amazing Spider-Man.” The character, billed as Spider-Man’s “teenage sidekick,” got a healthy promotional push from Marvel — a teaser campaign and a mainstream media reveal — but some observers were surprised when he exited the book only two issues after he entered (“Overpowered super-teen Alpha goes out with a whimper rather than a bang,” said our own reviewer David Pepose in his take on Amazing Spider-Man #694).  

Of course, the smart money was that couldn’t be the end of the story, and it doesn’t look like it is. Though there’s no official confirmation at this point that Marvel’s decision to reprinting Alpha’s first appearance has to do with Superior Spider-Man — a representative from Marvel said that readers shouldn’t assume there’s a connection — it certainly does seem likely, given timing and circumstances.


Does that mean that Alpha is the Spidey in Superior? No reason to rule it out, though it would make Slott’s assertion that Spider-Man and Mary Jane are “getting back together” seemingly rather icky, given that Andy Maguire is a high-school kid — though she definitely doesn’t seem too into that kiss on the cover of Superior Spider-Man #2.

It helps that Maguire has some definite motivations to make himself a “superior” Spider-Man. Spidey drained him of most of his powers in issue #694 because Maguire wasn’t able to use his powers responsibility — meaning that if he ends up getting some sort of powers back, he could be in a position to both prove his former (kinda-sorta) mentor wrong and gain a sense of, well, superiority.  

Phil Urich is another candidate that would seem to fit the bill. Since the start of Slott’s solo run on Amazing Spider-Man in 2010, he’s been positioned as something of an anti-Peter Parker — down to a gig at The Daily Bugle and his own twisted take on “power and responsibility. He’s the Hobgoblin now, sure, but the original version (Roderick Kingsley) just reappeared, in a storyline that — in a detail that sure seems relevant — is out just before “Dying Wish,” the arc that culminates in the said-to-be-game-changing Amazing Spider-Man #700.


If it does happen to be Phil Urich (or anyone else that’s not Andy Maguire), that doesn’t mean the Alpha reprint is necessarily insignificant. Any amount of comic book science could see some element of Alpha’s vast powers transferred to a new character, and ending up as part of the overall Superior Spider-Man package (which looks to incorporate twists including a retractable toe claw).

Also important to note: There are few mainstream comic book writers who enjoy misdirection as much as Dan Slott, and it should at least be considered that the insistence that Superior Spider-Man is not “Peter Parker” could either be meant metaphorically, or refer to a name change. After all, here’s what Slott said about himself in the USA Today article that initially announced Superior Spider-Man:

“You're getting a new writer on this book, and his name also happens to be Dan Slott and he is very messed up. I hear this guy wrote Arkham Asylum and Great Lakes Avengers. That other Dan Slott? He's adorable. This guy, he's a freak.”

And yes, the Alpha reprint could also be simply a red herring, but going through the trouble of soliciting and publishing a comic just to throw people off the scent feels like a bit extreme of a measure, though not necessarily out of the question.

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