REVIEW: “Superior Spider-Man” #20

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Shawn Warner

Written by: Dan Slott
Artwork by: Giuseppe Camuncoli, John Dell
Color Artwork by: Antonio Fabela

This issue was the most hyped Spider-Man comic since Amazing #700. With most of that hype coming from Dan Slott himself I was eager to read this issue to say the least besides I love this book so much anyway. After reading issue #20 I have to say it didn’t live up to the hype, in fact much of the issue is pedestrian and mundane, there is very little action save the scant few panels of Spidey and Felicia’s confrontation, which is beautifully drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli, having said that this is still a very entertaining read. In fact it this issue wasn’t so hyped I would have enjoyed it as a solid entry in a very consistent run but as I read the issue I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was waiting for this major revelation that never came. Sure there are lots of little moments that add up to take the wind out of Spidey’s sails but there is no earth shattering final page reveal on par with Amazing #700.

Okay enough of my griping about what this issue didn’t have now let’s talk about what it does have and that is an engrossing narrative that follows Parker as he attempts to get his degree, courts Anna and secures funding for his new business, Parker Industries. What doesn’t work as well are the scenes of MJ going to visit her new crush, fireman Pedro Olivera, these pages seem out of place and irrelevant to the plot. Dan Slott handles the big showdown between Spider-Man and Black Cat a bit clumsily. The new paradigm is interesting but the shocking blow to Black Cat’s face causing her to spit out a tooth felt like a little much even with Otto in the driver’s seat. I expected something more dynamic from Slott who has been so consistent on this run. There are almost too many elements at work here to be cohesive like the sub-text with The Stunner which seems to come out of left field by the time you get to the last page of this issue.

The most exciting and tense scene comes when delivering his doctoral thesis; Parker is called out by Dr. Lamaze for plagiarizing the work of Otto Octavius. This is genius writing on Slott’s part as you can almost feel the massive influx of conflicting emotions inside Parker who IS actually Octavius but cannot defend himself as such. The anger and frustration are captured perfectly by Camuncoli who renders a look of perfect stunned confusion on Parker’s face. All he wants to do in that instance is to destroy Lamaze who goes on threatening to have Parker expelled and made into a laughing stock before the entire scientific community. With this Slott sets up some really exciting possibilities for future plots and starts a perfect storm of eventual consequences in Parker’s life, once again he is on a downward spiral. Which just goes to show that no matter whose brain is at the helm of the S.S. Peter Parker it’s impossible to avoid the icebergs in the ocean of life.

Giuseppe Camuncoli handles the penciling duties on this issue after finishing up some work over on the X-Men, Battle of the Atom crossover and he does a tremendous job. This book is truly spectacular to look at. He makes the conventional activities look dynamic by skewing the perspective or forcing the focus of a panel. His storytelling prowess shines whether in his portrayal of the mundane or the fantastic, he is equally adept at rendering a scene of a costumed Spidey in an electrifying fight or depicting the drama of Parker’s everyday life in the city. The meticulous attention to contrasts in this issue really adds depth to the shadows and makes the highlights literally sparkle. This is Camuncoli at his stunning best.

When all is said and done this is a solid, entertaining and engrossing issue. Slott may have overstated the importance of this book in the annals of Spider-Man history but there is no denying that it is a heck of a fun read and gorgeous to look at. I have been a lifelong Spidey fan and I particularly like the recent stuff going back to when Mark Waid, Dan Slott and the rest of the Spider brain trust was turning out some great stories, even the JMS stuff with Romita Jr was really exceptional but this run has been the one that has kept me guessing and loving every minute of it. This issue is solid despite some bothersome elements I enjoyed it and recommend picking it up if only to ogle the fabulous artwork. 4 out of 5

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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