Comics : Superior Spider-Man #32
This story is part of an Arc: "Superior Spider-Verse"
Part 1 / Part 2
This review was first published on: Sep 2014.
The Superior Spider-Man (Otto Octavius) is dead.... The Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker) is back... Except that's not the end of Otto's time in the red and blues/blacks.
By the end of the Age of Ultron event, the abuse of time travel in the Marvel Universe had become too much and now there’s rifts in space-time all over the place.
During the Necessary Evil story, Spider-Man 2099 got stuck in present day and the Superior Spider-Man was lost in a temporal implosion for around 24 hours. Max Modell and the Horizon Gang used some clever tech to retrieve Spider-Man from the timeline. The question is where was Otto all that time?
Here's the answer.
Superior Spider-Man #32 (Story 1)
Oct 2014 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Arc: Part 1 of "Superior Spider-Verse"
The opening double page spread recounts the events of Superior Spider-Man #19 and Otto being lost. Spider-Man finds himself adrift in time (a theory proven by images of other timelines including Peter Parquagh from 1602, Maestro, Old Man Logan and the Days of Future Past). Otto finally lands in Nueva York 2099, a fact that amuses him – it seems the universe has filled a void by replacing their Spider-Man for himself. Otto figures he can use 2099 tech to build a machine and send himself back to where he belongs. However, Spidey's appearance is soon noted by the Public Eye (2099's version of the Police, except these guys are privately owned by Alchemax and so serve them not the public). Public Eye advise Spider-Man not to flee but this is the Superior Spider-Man and escaping was never an option. After destroying the Public Eye craft, Otto is fortunate enough to have Gabriel O'Hara (Miguel's brother) drive by and escort him from the scene whilst asking where his brother is. Having purged Peter's memories from his brain, Otto has no recollection of when Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man and encountering the O'Hara boys but manages to bluff his way back to Miguel's apartment. Gabriel is happy to let Spidey have the run of the place as from his point of view this is the guy that managed to return both Spider-Men to their appropriate timelines previously.
Utilising the apartment's computer (through its default holographic interface), Spider-Man learns the locations of companies that have the type of technology he'll need to build a time machine and then promptly goes about taking it! Otto assembles a time portal, complaining that as his own science is so far ahead of its time that the technology from 2099 is actually inferior! No matter as he is ready to jump back to present day, so downloads the computer's hologram (who has been adjusted to look like Anna Maria Marconi) into his wrist device and steps through the portal.
Otto's trip seems successful at first but then he discovers the corpses of Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Spider-Man! This is a Spider-Man that joined the Fantastic Four (a la What If? (Vol. 1) #1). Otto quickly figures he has arrived in a parallel Universe and so returns to 2099. Other attempts to return home send Otto to other parallel timelines (visiting the House of M, Civil War and a futuristic New York) each containing a dead Spider-Man, all of whom were killed by a double puncture wound (just as the Fantastic Five Spider-Man had). Holo-Anna determines that the Spider-Men were all killed by the same weapon suffused with a radiation not belonging to any of their Universes. Otto decides to investigate the deaths of these Peter Parkers and the distinctive weapon of their killer.
The story switches to Spider-Man India and Paviitr Prabhakar running from a figure wielding a two pronged glowing staff. (The figure wears a diver's helmet so we don't know who it is - I'm going with Spider-hunter for now.) It's not going well but fortunately the Superior Spider-Man turns up to help. Incapacitating the pursuer temporarily, Otto recruits Paviitr and takes him back to 2099. Waiting there for them is a team of other Spider-“Men” including a Spider-Monkey (from Marvel Apes (One Shots)), Spider-Man Noir, a Spider-Woman, a mutated six-armed Spider-Man and another Spider-Man (from Superior Spider-Man #32 (Story 2)). With this team, Otto will take down the monster hunting Spiders across the Multiverse.
So the Spider-Verse event is heralded by the sort of return of the Superior Spider-Man. I only say sort of as he's not really back, this story just fills in a little gap from Superior Spider-Man #19. A gap that didn't necessarily need filling but it lent itself nicely to this story and from the previews I've seen appears to set up Spider-Verse nicely. By the end of the issue, Otto has assembled a team of some Spider-“Men” (and a woman and a monkey) so we're on our way to every Spider-Man ever that Spider-Verse promises.
The story itself I enjoyed very much. Whilst I don't complain about the return of Peter in Amazing Spider-Man, it is nice to see Otto back and as rude as ever! Superior Spider-Man was a fast paced deal and this issue is no different. Within the pages of this comic, Slott and Gage recap Otto being lost in time, his arrival in 2099, link it to Spider-Man 2099's disappearance, get him to work out how to return home, build a device to do it, try it out four times, discover someone or something is hunting Spiders and then use the device another six times to form a team of Spiders to hunt the hunter! None of it seemed rushed. I guess they knew they only had two issues to tell a tale and so got on with it!
One of the reasons this comic is able to move so fast is that there is no real need for character development or to set up any long term plot threads. We as readers know what Otto is like and that the Superior Spider-Man returns to present day (as it has already happened in issue 19). That said we do get to see Otto develop, or more so his genuine love for Anna Maria. When initially presented with the holographic interface for the 2099 computer he pays its appearance little attention, but soon we see how he takes the time to recreate the image of his true love. A really minor thing in the storyline but nice to see.
In my opinion, one thing that Dan Slott does well is refer to the 50 year history of Spider-Man without any new readers needing an encyclopaedic knowledge. Characters that turn up in cameo provide a rewarding moment for long term readers without making new readers feel left out. This issue is no difference with 2099 cameos from Private Eye, Miguel O'Hara's brother Gabriel, Stark/Fujikawa, Alchemax and Venture. There's also plenty of alternate Universe cameos and nods to some of the previous costumes that Spider-Man has had in his wardrobe over the years! All of this is wonderfully drawn and coloured, hitting all the right notes when needed and if you have no clue as to these characters, it doesn't detract from the story.
There is one thing that bugs me about the 2099 characters and that's the pseudo-swearing. Normally in a Marvel comic if a character swears we get %$&*! or some such, but in 2099 we get words that sound the same. Now part of me thinks this is very clever, how over the course of around 100 years words change and become corrupted so are not quite how they are meant to be. But then surely that's just as bad as using the real cuss words, I mean it's not much of a leap to know what is meant by “bithead” or “what the shock” so you might as well have used the real words! Of course they can't do that but at least with %$&*! it's up to the reader to use their own vocabularies to provide a suitable word.
I'm curious to see where the second part of this story takes us as if its purpose is to set up an event featuring every Spider-Man ever then it's arguably already done that. We've already got six other Spiders, we can work out where more would come from and it could be explained in a panel by a time displaced Otto showing up with his team when Spider-Verse kicks off. Of course this team of Spiders and their purpose might not be directly linked to the plot of Spider-Verse so I'll just have to wait and see.
A welcome return for the Superior Spider-Man. I hope the second part is just as good.