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Superior Spider-Man #4: Massacre’s Back

The killer unable to value human life escapes from custody, but will have to face a different kind of hero.

Superior Spider-Man #4

In Superior Spider-Man #4, we get a lengthy schpiel from Dr. Otto Octavius about how much better he is at being Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was. He's quadrupled Peter's crimestopping thanks to the use of his spider-bots to patrol for him, he's running down henchmen (or in this case, Vulture's henchkids) and tying up loose ends, and he's become ruthless enough that criminals like the White Rabbit will surrender a lot more easily now that they know Spider-Man has no qualms about severely hurting them. It's enough of an improvement that he feels as though he's more than hit his quota, and thus he can ignore a fire breaking out when he could just turn around and help.

True, he's ignoring that fire to see to his Aunt May's health – which allows for the spectral Peter in Otto's head to get really weirded out, considering that way back when, Otto almost married May once. However, having dealt with the really creepy overtones of the Fake-Peter/Mary Jane Watson relationship a couple of issues back, Dan Slott can afford to make the skeevy joke here, since we know he's not really going to go there. Still, we can't help but agree with Peter's wry suggestion that Otto should make himself a robot girlfriend instead.

The situation is also getting weird at Horizon Labs, as Max Modell is starting to chafe at Peter's new brusque attitude and flouting of procedures, while Otto amusingly flips out at the realization that Peter Parker never officially became a doctor, and thus he can't flaunt his well-earned appellation. Thus, he re-enrolls at Empire State University to get his one missing credit.

Things get darker, though, when a sociopathic brain-damaged mass-killer named Massacre escapes from Ravencroft. This guy is incapable of assigning value to human life, but the last time Spider-Man beat him, it was right in the heart of his "No one dies!" mantra, and he made sure to even save Massacre's life. This time, after a dressing down from Mayor Jameson about having let the guy live, Superior Spider-Man agrees that Massacre must die, much to the frantic consternation of Ghost Peter. He was able to stay Otto's hand once before, but with this much premeditation, will he still be able to preserve Spider-Man's good name as a hero who doesn't kill?

This whole massive storyline is really elevating Dr. Octopus to the true A-list Spidey villain he should be, as he'd been treated as a joke for far too long. At the same time, Slott may also be transitioning him into becoming some kind of a hero in his own right – and that will be put to the test with this Massacre face off, as well as the inevitable showdown with our surprise last-panel arrival. That's a fight I can't wait to see – and it'll be A-list vs. A-list.

One other thing I'm curious about is what I'm seeing from artist Giuseppe Camuncoli as he renders Spider-Man. He looks bulkier than usual, and I'm wondering if that was intentional – i.e. Otto was always a portly, doughy type, and although he's quite active as Spider-Man, he might also be quite active with the snacky treats. Wouldn't it be interesting if Peter Parker regains control of his body and finds out he has to lose 40 pounds to get back into fighting shape? Just a thought.

Overall, I'm firmly on board with Superior Spider-Man now that the whole creepy vibe has dissipated. I'm really looking forward to Otto taking on big-time Spider-villains.

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