Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Review: The Superior Spider-Man #9

Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Having quietly guided the Superior Spider-Man's actions for the past eight issues, Peter Parker's number is up all over again, as Doc Ock has become aware of our Spectacular narrator and intends to wipe him out once and for all!

In what can only be described as an encore to Amazing Spider-Man #700, writer Dan Slott is once again in the Peter Parker extermination business. Having physically killed our hero mere issues ago, now comes the psychological death. The ghost we've seen haunting Otto's exploits is explained away as the sum of Peter's memories having taken on a life of their own. These memories have held the former super-villain back at key junctures, but this issue marks his official coming out, well and truly off the leash of morals.

Rather than the simple medical procedure hinted at in the real world, the issue takes on a far more meta-physical bent, taking place almost entirely in the crumbling memories of Parker as they're wiped away by the controlling Octavius. This allows for one final battle between the pair, providing valuable insight into the minds of Spider-Man, old and new.

At first, this plays out as one would expect any other mindscape story to, with the memories of Peter's friends coming to his aid, almost wrestling control of the body back to it's wise-cracking original owner. However, that soon changes, as Octavius unleashes a legion of Spider-Man's deepest nightmares on the unsuspecting young man. Confronted by his most renowned villains, his own personal failures and the stark realisation that Ock may infact be a better hero than him, Peter's resolve crumbles. Particularly, at the notion he would've let an innocent child die in an effort to save himself last issue. Peter Parker died as he lived, laying a colossal guilt-trip on himself.

The Superior Spider-Man began with the promise of Otto Octavius assuming the mantle, but the gesture has often felt half-hearted, as the presence of Peter Parker continued to loom over the book. Nine issues late, the series will finally get to live up to it's premise, devoid of any semblance of it's former star. Going forward, the actions of this Superior Spider-Man will be his and his alone.

Given the radical nature of this paradigm shift, Dan Slott has spent the past few months easing us into the new status quo. Now that all the purists' complaints have been voiced and even the most hardened fanboy is done crying, Peter's role is fulfilled and we're ready for the band-aid to be ripped away entirely.

9 out of 10

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