Superior Spider-Man #1
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Ryan Stegman and Edgar Delgado
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
A scientist with the proportionate strength of a spider. A crime in pursuit. A man shackled to a code of great power... and great responsibility.
But this is not Peter Parker behind the mask. And in certain ways, Superior Spider-Man isn't quite the same without him. As Otto Octavius reigns supreme in the body of his greatest foe, Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman speedily set up the new status quo rather than reinvent the wheel.For action junkies, this is a good thing. The Superior Spider-Man cuts to the quick, pitting Otto against a very interesting group of supervillains — a new version of his old team, the Sinister Six. Otto's disdain for these usurpers is the hint of black comedy to this opening issue, which otherwise serves as basic setup to this supervillain's new life. Those who already knew Spidey's current status quo might just feel a bit uncomfortable with Otto's over-the-top dialogue in front of his hapless loved ones — well, uncomfortable with a chuckle at 20something Peter calling someone "dolt!" — but for new readers, it's about as accessible as it gets. The action also winds up adding some tension to the story, and while some of Otto's tactics reek of writer fiat, there are some — like his spin on the Spider-Tracer — that are pretty cool.
That said, the downside for it being nuSpidey 101 is, well... it's also a little basic. That's to be expected, of course, as Otto is just beginning to stretch his legs as the not-so-Friendly Neighborhood Wallcrawler, but Slott's run has always been very character-driven, breaking Peter Parker down to his basic elements and spinning off stories based on that. The new Hobgoblin, as an example, was a dark mirror image of Peter from the very beginning — a smart take to revitalize a supervillain. Otto doesn't quite have that brand-new spin to him just yet, so this comic comes off as very plot-driven. What's the key to Otto being a villain we both love to hate and hate to love? That's the missing ingredient to this book.
Well, the other one being the right inker. Artist Ryan Stegman is, in a lot of ways, a nice extension from Humberto Ramos, in the fact that his characters come off as cartoony and kinetic. But at the same time, they do also come off a bit sketchy, as the credits show he does his own inking, with Edgar Delgado on colors. Stegman's sharper lines remind me just a little bit of Chris Bachalo's, but sometimes that winds up doing more harm than good — a scene change to Horizon Labs was particularly jarring for me, as the building looked so scratchy and derelict that I thought it was an abandoned warehouse. But Stegman's take on Spidey himself looks nice, especially that splash page of him zooming into action — this is a sharper Spidey, a deadlier Spidey, one that looks like he could really break you.
Those railing against the new status quo will likely find something or another to be happy about with this all-new era of Spider-Man, as Otto struts his stuff on his official first day of the job. This self-contained opener does require preexisting faith to really get into, as this new Spider-Man is as smug and abrasive as it gets — but seeing the challenges he has ahead of him give me some hope. The Superior Spider-Man still has plenty of room to grow before he reaches his predecessor's boots, but Slott and Stegman have nicely set up the stage for this bad guy to have his own hero's journey.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!