(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Dan Slott
Pencils by Humberto Ramos
Inks by Victor Olazaba
Color Artwork by Edgar Delgado
(Credits for Back-Up Stories below)
The past 31 issues of Superior Spider-Man have featured some of the most entertaining and engrossing stories to be found anywhere; the melding of Peter Parker and Otto Octavius was a stroke of pure creative genius on the part of Dan Slott, the resulting character was so much more than the sum of his parts, Spidey-Ock, SpOck or whatever quasi-clever moniker was given to the amalgamated hero/villain/anti-hero, he was an imaginative, sometimes reprehensible, other times oddly endearing but always fascinating. The Superior Spider-Man was something very different and unexpectedly (at least for me, yes I did have my doubts at the start of all this) captivating, the concept was just so crazy that upon first hearing about it, I believe my initial response was something like, “Well I won’t be getting Spider-Man for a while now” but I am not too proud to admit that I was completely wrong in my rush to judgment. Dan Slott won me over almost immediately and I was on board for the duration. Now, having said all of that in prologue, it is so “Amazing” to have Peter Parker back in his body and in that iconic blue and red costume that I felt like I was re-united with a long lost friend while reading this first issue.
Slott slips back into writing Peter like putting on a favorite, well-worn, comfy pair of sneakers, it feels so right and when you are wearing them you can’t imagine why you would ever want to take them off. Peter is finally back in full swing, weak pun intended, armed with wise cracks, witticisms and web fluid. Issue #1 is a sizable tome chock full of nods to future plots and re- introductions to some very unhappy members of Spidey’s rogues gallery; each of them upset with the friendly neighborhood wall crawler after being somewhat less than pleasantly treated by the Spider-Man of the superior variety. However Peter is unaware of a great deal of Otto’s maltreatment of friends and foes alike after he was able to completely free himself of Peter’s personality and influence while in control of his body. The long reaching ramifications on a professional level as well as the fall out in Peter’s personal life are sure to be the subjects of the majority of initial narratives, in fact the first several issues are discussed in the final pages of this issue, Slott and company seem to have a firm grasp on the direction of this book for the foreseeable future and after the great success of Superior Spider-Man I am quite sure the number of those who would doubt his vision have greatly diminished.
In the main story of this issue Slott does a wonderful job of dealing with some of the most pressing matters in Peter’s rather confused and (especially to him) confusing life; chief among them the facts that he is now, thanks to Otto, a doctor and owner of his own company, however he is also involved with Anna Maria, a woman he hardly knows at all because of Otto’s relationship with her. The mixed reactions to Spidey as he swings through the New York sky is another confusing area for the usually beloved web slinger; he is jeered and insulted on sight for being a violent cad. His bruised relationship with his family is slowly on the mend, particularly in Aunt May’s case but there are certainly some hold-outs who are proving to be quite another story. Peter’s public persona and his work, most of which he doesn’t really even understand, are two elements that are going to be extremely interesting to see him handle.
The back up stories are each designed to touch on a future plot thread. The Electro story by Slott and Christos Gage is one of my favorite as it gives us a glimpse of the current state of villains and their feelings toward Spider-Man. Also by Slott and Gage is the story of a scorned Black Cat in which we see her day to day life in prison and the contempt she now harbors toward Spider-Man, misdirected though it may be. Miguel O’Hara appears in a Peter David story that sets up the first issue of a new Spider-Man 2099 series that I for one cannot wait for. Chris Yost turns in a tale of Kaine that concisely runs down a bit of history relating to the Scarlet Spider. The final story is written by Slott with artwork by Ramon Perez and is hands down my favorite. The narrative follows a young guy named Clayton Cole. Clayton is a smart kid, chess champ, mathlete and all around academic ace. However he has some rather large aspirations; Clayton wants to be a Tony Stark-type rock star genius. Inspiration and fate conspire and Clayton finds himself at a momentous wrestling exhibition where he discovers another super smart young man named Parker who is at the time in the guise of the Amazing Spider-Man. The events of that fateful night change Clayton’s future trajectory forever. Slott does an extremely effective job of writing Clayton as a relatable character. He’s likable and down to earth, the kind of kid you want to see succeed but we will have to read Amazing Spider-Man #1.1 to see how things turn out for him because like all of the backup material in this issue, it sets up a larger story in a coming issue or title. The majority of these set up pieces work just fine, the only one I could have done without was an overview of Spidey’s gadgets set up as a demo featuring The Hulk. It is intentionally silly with very simplistic art; it is not awful it’s just not the sort of material I would purposely seek out.
The list of contributing writers and artists that worked on this book is quite impressive; there is of course Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos on the main story, then Slott collaborated with Christos Gage on two tales featuring art by Javier Rodriguez and Giuseppe Camuncoli respectively, Peter David, Joe Caramagna and Chris Yost wrote the remaining stories with artwork by Will Sliney, Chris Eliopoulos and David Baldeon. There is a lot of quality material in this book; Ramos is dynamic as always with his signature hyper-flexible Spidey in impossibly graceful poses, Rodriguez brings an indy sensibility to his work that fits perfectly with the Electro story, especially the scenes in The Bar with No Name, Sliney has a more realistic interpretation of anatomy that suits the Spider-Man 2099 narrative very well, the action is rendered beautifully and his cinematic approach to storytelling is enhanced by his kinetic pace and effective use of panels, finally Perez calls to mind Chris Samnee with his solid line work and graphic style of storytelling. Overall this is one of the most stunning collections of comic book art I have seen collected into a single issue; there isn’t really a single story that feels like filler. This is a tremendous first issue that sets the bar high and lives up to the precedent set by the previous run of Superior Spider-Man, in fact I think it could best be summed up like this, The Superior Spider-Man was amazing but the Amazing Spider-Man is superior. Corny? Sure but I think it gets my point across. (5/5)
Written by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Joe Caramagna
Peter David, Chris Yost
Pencils/Artwork by Humberto Ramos, Javier Rodriguez,
Chris Eliopoulos, Will Sliney, David Baldeon, Ramon Perez
Inks by Victor Olazaba, Alvaro Lopez, John Dell,
Cam Smith, Jordi Tarragona
Color Artwork by Edgar Delgado, Javier Rodriguez,
Antonio Fabela, Jim Charalampidis, Rachelle Rosenberg, Ian Herring
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.