Never let it be said that Dan Slott can’t spin an epic story.
We all knew that the Superior Spider-Man era couldn’t last forever. Well, most of us knew. A few overzealous comic book fans went a little bats*** crazy when the Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man’s body twist was revealed and they reacted as if they’ve never seen the status quo changed before it inevitably gets changed back.
Superhero comics, ladies and gentlemen. It’s what they do.
Superior Spider-Man bucked the trend of most event comics by having legs, and I swear, that’s not an octopus pun! Ock as Spidey was a great spin on the character and Superior Spider-Man was a lot of fun to read. But ahead of the relaunched Amazing Spider-Man, Slott puts most of his toys away as Peter Parker definitively reclaims his role as the one true Spider-Man.
Through the previous four issues of the “Goblin Nation” storyline, Slott left so many plotlines in the air that I was certain he wouldn’t be able to deal with them all in the space of a single issue. Although Slott does drop a few major beats, the first twenty five pages of this issue are about as perfect as comics get.
Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli delivered the epic visuals again. And while some of Camuncoli’s faces tend to look alike, his gift for expressions comes in handy when the Goblin King realizes he’s dealing with the real Spider-Man again.
For all of you spoilerphobes out there, the rest of this review is fairly SPOILER HEAVY. So, consider this your one and only warning.
With Spider-Man 2099 as his wingman, Peter Parker manages to put down most of the Goblin’s army in record time. One of the glaring omissions from this issue is the Avengers not even mentioning their intent to arrest Spider-Man after discovering that the Superior Spider-Man was taking part in illegal medical treatments and experiments. Instead it’s just kind of glossed over as Captain America thanks Spidey for his help.
However, the final battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin more than made up for the minor shortcomings of the first half of the book. Slott found a way to make this fight different from their previous encounters and I even like the fresh spin on who is underneath the Goblin mask and why. I’m less enthused about the characterization of Liz Allen and her son, Normie; who were apparently in league with the Goblin in some way that seems vague and undefined.
Luckily, Slott doesn’t take the cheap way out and kill off Anna Maria Marconi, Doc Ock’s love interest while he was wearing Peter’s body. Anna actually has a pretty active role in her own rescue and the ending suggests that Peter’s not going to get a clean break from that relationship even though he hardly knows her.
If I was grading this issue on the first half alone, I’d give it a 9.5. It was really terrific and a triumphant return for Peter Parker.
Unfortunately, the issue takes a turn for the worse in the second half of the issue, as Slott and artist Will Sliney team up to deal with the emotional fallout of the Superior Spider-Man storyline. Sliney is a functional artist, but the drop in quality from Camuncoli to Sliney definitely detracts from the issue.
When Slott deals with Peter’s reconciliation with his Aunt May and her husband or Spider-Man’s apology (of sorts) to J. Jonah Jameson, it’s gold. However, Slott makes two major creative missteps that soured some of my enjoyment of the issue. Of Spider-Man’s love interests and ex-girlfriends, Anna Maria Marconi was the star of Superior Spider-Man. But Anna is nowhere to be found in the back half of the book and the story feels incomplete without emotional closure for her. Presumably Anna will show up in Amazing Spider-Man # 1 later this month, but her absence in the epilogue was jarring. She should have been there.
Beyond that, it also felt incredibly self-indulgent for Slott to give Mary Jane and Carlie Cooper a three page conversation about how they aren’t bad people because they no longer want Peter Parker or Spider-Man in their lives. Slott seems to be clearing the deck of Peter’s love life and moving these two out of the new Amazing Spider-Man book. But honestly, neither MJ or Carlie came off well in the scene and I just wanted the story to get back to Anna.
Regardless, the Superior Spider-Man was one of the greatest Spider-Man epics in Marvel history. And for the most part, Slott and his collaborators nailed the ending.