Superior Spider-Man #7 is the best issue of this series so far. Writer Dan Slott is crafting a story arc that will be looked at for years as a source of inspiration for up and coming comic book writers. As much as I disliked how Marvel handled the creation of Superior Spider-Man, the resulting story has been flawless. Now, Slott ratchets things up a notch and drops The Avengers right in the middle of Doc Ock’s new life as Spider-Man. The web is starting to unravel, and while it could be a some time before Peter Parker fully controls his body again, Doc Ock’s days are numbered.
The actual plot of Superior Spider-Man doesn’t matter as much as the multiple elements at work here. Cardiac, a vigilante who steals money and supplies to help those in need, has opened an underground hospital. During a trip to “liberate” items for said hospital, Cardiac runs afoul of Doc Ock’s Spider-Man and almost plays the ultimate price for it. Meanwhile, The Avengers are beginning to suspect that something is afoot with their teammate and friend. Superior Spider-Man #7 ends with Doc Ock Spidey about to face off with The Avengers.
Slott begins stitching the fabric of his arc early. The Spirit of Peter Parker, the consciousness that remains inside Ock’s mind is slowly learning to manipulate his old body when Ock’s asleep. When Ock arrives to stop Cardiac, he realizes the vigilante is in an old warehouse holding confiscated material taken from super criminals. In short, Cardiac is trying to steal some of Doc Ock’s old inventions.
During the Cardiac face off, just as Ock’s Spider-Man is about to deliver a fatal blow, Parker screams inside his own head for Ock to stop. Not only is Parker able to control his body for a second, allowing Cardiac to get away, his voice is also heard by Ock. The final element is the Avengers, who want proof that Spider-Man is still Peter Parker. When Ock refuses, the gang is ready to take him down. All of these elements sewn together is what makes Slott’s work so jaw-dropping.
Injecting an intellectual and emotional core into a comic book is tough. Only the best really pull it off. The easy route would have been to have Peter take over Ock’s body for “one last hail Mary” attempt to get his body back, or to have one person believe him and help him restore order. Instead, Slott is looking at what makes a hero and what doesn’t. Ock’s lack of control, his ire when he realizes that Cardiac is daring to steal from him - none of that is what makes a hero. While some applaud it, the true heroes (Avengers, Carlie Cooper) know it’s not the man the knew. Instead of being a simple story about body snatching, Slott is turning this into a look how under all the wisecracks and problems, Peter Parker is one of the greatest heroes we have.
Bringing this unique vision to life is Humberto Ramos. There are those who say Ramos is an acquired taste, I disagree. Ramos pencils comic books with the idea of making them bigger than life. It’s the same principle that makes John Romita Jr. so wonderful and, if you think about it, Jack Kirby. Relax, I’m not saying he’s as good as Kirby (nobody even comes close), I am saying that he draws from the principle that comic book art doesn’t have to look realistic to be excellent.
Few have Ramos’s affinity for action or his ability to show movement so well. Ramos pencils the way a film editor edits. Each page, each panel, every drawing builds tension and suspense. His characters are flawless and always interesting to watch. I can’t see anyone penciling Slott’s hyperkinetic work the way Ramos does. Victor Olazab’s inks fit right into Ramos’s style. These are hard inks, deep lines across the board. They work because Ramos’s pencils are light and flowing. Olazab’s inks give them the weight they need. The same holds true for Edgar Delgado’s color work. He colors this issue in a very bright and flashy way, which is perfect within Ramos’s pencils and Olazab’s ink work.
Spider-Man has never been better. Dan Slott’s work is a gift to all of us who love the character.