Sunday, 10 March 2013

Review: Superior Spider-Man #5

Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Otto Octavius continues to masquerade as Spider-Man in the captive body of Peter Parker. The hero helplessly watches as his greatest enemy forces him to cross the most important line of all!

I haven't been the biggest fan of Spider-Man comics in recent years, what with 'One More Day' having done a decidedly good job at turning me off the character for the best part of five years. However, Dan Slott has done a wonderful job at coaxing me back with this pseudo-relaunch as the Superior Spider-Man. Where I'd grown quite bored of the regular Peter Parker status-quo (great responsibility, yada yada yada), there's a perverse joy in watching one of the biggest supervillains of modern day comics masquerade as said hero. Doctor Octopus in the body of Peter Parker has instantly become far more entertaining than the traditional angst-ridden hero. Having no guilt over his less-than-noble methods has allowed Otto to become a better Spider-Man than Peter ever was!

This particular issue brings Octavius head to head with one of Peter Parker's greatest failures (at least recently) - the mass-murdering psychopath, Massacre. Where the Amazing Spider-Man would capture the disturbed villain and seek justice, the Superior Spider-Man has no qualms with tit for tat. If Massacre is willing to kill, so too must this new Spider-Man. Peter Parker's ghostly conscious was able to stay Otto's hand once already, when the good Doctor was about to kill a hapless villain, but will he have the willpower to do it again?

To me, the most fascinating part of the book is not the hero's dilemma (or lack thereof), but instead the surreal deal a businesswoman is willing to enter into with Massacre. Having seen the negative publicity his actions have brought to her own company (where his last set of killings took place), she's quietly approached by the madman himself, angling for a multi-million dollar payday to commit atrocities wearing brand products from competitors of her choosing. At the expense of innocent lives, this woman can drive business away from her rivals and back towards herself. If it were not a horrifying loss of life, it'd be ingenious.

While this is going on, Octavius procrastinates by visiting a tutor in aid of finishing Parker's long incomplete doctorate. Scarily, this meeting had romantic overtones, at least in my interpretation. Anna Marconi is a delightfully wry little person (her words, not mine) and over the course of their session, the pair develop a playful mutual respect. Science soon turns into dinner, turns into what I think was flirting. I'm not sure though, as Octavius would no doubt be terrible at doing so and the idea of him flirting makes my stomach turn a little. The idea of Doc Ock romancing someone in Peter Parker's body is creepy on so many levels!

Another standout moment comes when Spider-Man is in the middle of saving several of Massacre's hostages. Octavius remarks just what an oddity it is to be saving so few lives, when only a short time before, he was threatening to kill billions and render Humanity extinct. He's clearly learning from his experiences as the new Spider-Man, but something tells me he's going to take all the wrong lessons along the way. He may strive to save lives now, but lots of people are going to suffer for him to achieve that.

8 out of 10

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