Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Better Webhead: A Fond Farewell to the Superior Spider-Man

Collected Editions #1 & 2
Late to the Party: Playing Catch-Up with TPBs.
So the spoilers were true – the Amazing Spider-Man is back in just a few short months, bringing to an end the glorious reign of the Superior Spider-Man (henceforth called ‘SpOck’, for the sake of easy identification). I have to say that I’m going to be sad to see him go.

Maybe it’s a sign of the changing times that being an outright try-hard do-gooder isn’t as appealing as it used to be, or maybe it’s because there’s still the taint of Peter Parker’s deal with Marvel’s not-Devil Mephisto lingering around (and here's a well-thought out counter argument to that opinion), but SpOck is by far one of the more interesting takes on the Spidey myth. He’s proactive, actually uses his intelligence, and wears a superb take on the classic threads. That he actually dresses in mad scientist garb when working at Horizon (goggles and all) is just a layer of icing on the cake. There’s humour in SpOck’s pompous arrogance, unintended quips and robot servant, and the way he relates his own experiences against Spider-Man as he’s taking down the villains himself is fantastic dramatic irony. It’s an exceptionally well-written and frequently well-drawn series that applies the Freaky Friday formula to superhero comics, and pulls it off with exceptional success.

SpOck about to take down Massacre...
SpOck about to take down Massacre... Permanantly.
This is Doc Ock however, mass-murderer and criminal mastermind, and there remains a dark undertone of violence (see Annual #1 for his savage takedown of Blackout, or of course the execution of Massacre from SSM #5). If it weren’t for this aspect, if Ock had genuinely turned over a new leaf and become a better man himself, then perhaps it wouldn’t all have to be coming to an end. But, it’s a fragile balance and Spidey is Marvel’s biggest cash cow (with a movie out this year as well), so a return to the status quo is inevitable. What’s unfortunate is that with SpOck’s over-exuberant take on vigilantism, Peter Parker has every reason to throw out the very inventions that made SpOck so superior. I don’t know this for a fact (and will be reading to find out), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spider-Man switch back to being Peter Parker in unsophisticated threads and out on patrol himself, screwing up his social life and being back on the wrong side of the superhero community. 

SpOck's Superior Spider-Suit
No more plans?
That doesn't upset me though. Whilst I may have seen this before, there's a generation or two of comic readers out there who won't know that Spidey, and he's one worth knowing. Perhaps that’s the secret to keeping the character so successful; the ever-developing car-crash of the X-Men books provides the other side of that coin...

Whatever the outcome for SpOck, it’s been a heck of a ride. Thank you Dan Slott and co for making Spider-Man engaging, interesting and immensely readable. And for this reader, making him not Peter Parker, even if for only 16 months worth of great comics.


  1. Here, here! I've always liked Spidey but for whatever reason when I jumped back into Marvel at the start of the Heroic Age, I never picked him up until the handful leading up to the big swapper-oo (Spider Island aside). And I'm so glad I checked out SpOck because it was something really original that went well that very easily could have gone badly.

    1. Likewise. I picked up Big Time but couldn't quite get into it (although Spider Island was a classic crossover), but then found myself getting a few issues in the lead up to #700, and reading on since. It's been an extremely entertaining ride, and one I'm glad to have been on. Thanks for the stopping by and commenting!


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