Review: Superior Spider-Man #15
One of the most interesting series to come out of Marvel NOW! would certainly have to be Superior Spider-Man. While other series have been content with renumbering their books and continuing on similar style adventures to their previous runs, Dan Slott has crafted a bold look at what happens when someone inhibits what it means to be both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Otto Octavious’ attempts to be the “superior” Spider-Man have really made for an interesting debate, as his decisions and more brutal nature bring in questions on whether or not he is better at being a hero than the true Peter Parker was. Issue #15 is a strong showing that throws in many different potential plot points while also leading up to a showdown between Phil Urich’s Hobgoblin and the Superior Spider-Man.
While issue #14 only focused singularly on the Shadowland destruction and quick aftermath, this issue does a great job at looking at other parts of the Spider-Man universe. Not only does the audience see Spider-Man interactions and how his patrol has been going, but Peter Parker’s life is brought back into the fold with shots of MJ, Aunt May, and even his college professor questioning his absence. Slott makes sure to hit home here that not only was Peter able to handle being a hero, but keep his normal life as Peter to the best of his abilities. A person like Octavius, who never had to maintain a double life, would understandably be frustrated and very irresponsible when it came to managing his cover. A scene involving Otto contemplating whether his life as Parker would be worth keeping is very well done from both an artistic and written perspective.
There is a massive amount of set up in this issue for the future, from Aunt May and Mary Jane’s wondering about Peter’s absence, Carlie Cooper and Captain Watanbe’s plot to check out Spider-Man further, and even more time showing the current Green Goblin continuing to gather strength and pull strings from behind the scenes. However, these scenes are a welcome addition to showcase just how much of an effect Otto has been having, both positive and negative, on those around him. They also don’t take away from the main narrative in this issue, as there is a solid story in the foreground with the world coming down quickly around Phil Urich as he tries to continue being the Hobgoblin. Seeing Urich get his comeuppance is a welcoming storyline, as he has always been an unlikable person who looks down on those around him. The ending to this issue is another effective shocker that this series has become known for, and once again conveys the unpredictable ways in which Otto will go to fight his enemies.
Humberto Ramos’ cartoonish style is always of great use in the Spider-Man universe; where he draws a very skinny Spidey who looks uniquely flexible in his action scenes. Expressions are also a trademark of Ramos’ pencils, as he gives appropriate faces to characters depending on their moods. Some examples are Otto’s concentrated face while wondering about his future, Stone’s appropriately sinister face while preparing his revenge, and the effectively creepy masks worn by both Green Goblin and Hobgoblin. Ramos even gives the audience a rare wide eyed expression of possible joy and excitement when Otto reacts to Anna Maria’s Freudian slip in her wording of a phrase. Inker Victor Olazaba and colorist Edgar Delgado also deserve mentions for their work, as it perfectly syncs up with Ramos’s pencils. Olazaba uses shadowing to convey mood when Otto debates his future, while Delgado layers his colors to avoid making costumes too bright or too dark.
If there is a major weakness to the Superior series, it is how Marvel characters continue to not believe that something is wrong with Peter. This complaint does show up in #15 as important people such as MJ and Aunt May continue to remain not believing that Peter is different to a frustrating degree. It takes a lot of suspension of disbelief, especially with how Peter in the past was so caring, nice, and present to those around him. Another fault is how this issue continues the long set up plots that Slott has been slow burning for a while now in the form of Carlie Cooper’s investigation and the Green Goblin’s takeover as a Kingpin of New York. Though some small advancements are made on both fronts, it may still be a while until we see these threads come to the forefront. A final note is that there still hasn’t been much of a backstory or explanation given for Otto’s “minions” yet or how he recruited them, as they just showed up in issue #14 and appears to be extremely loyal to Spider-Man.
Overall, Dan Slott continues to pen one of the most interesting books in Marvel. He has constructed a character study on what is really takes to be a hero, and though sometimes the execution isn’t perfect, this series’ bold direction makes it a unique story for readers to take part in. Slott and Ramos are a great creative team, and once again they deliver a solid issue that is both a fun and beautifully drawn thrill ride.
Superior Spider-Man #15 gets a 4/5