Otto Octavius is the Superior Spider-Man...in case you haven't figured out from the title... Recently, in Infinity, Black Bolt destroyed Attilian, and Terrigen, the chemical which mutates Inhumans, spread across the world. Hidden Inhumans began transforming from this occurrence. The actual floating city of Attilian exploded and fell into the Hudson River.
Our story commences with a picture of the ruins of Attilan in the Hudson River. Otto Octavius is obviously annoyed, saying, “Yet another disaster has stuck Manhattan.” While everybody may think it’s “a time to dig out, clean up, bury the dead, and make repairs,” the Superior Spider-Man sees the situation as an “opportunity.”
On the streets, Spidey stands holding debris while the Fire Department waters down the ground below him. One firefighter urges his teammates hurry because Spider-Man’s standing in gasoline near a fire. Otto, though, sees no problem and one of his robots lifts the debris with a magnetic bond. When one firefighter asks why he didn’t use it beforehand, Otto replies, “No. Too risky… All that metal on metal. It required precision. One spark amid the fuel tanks, and…”
Soon, Spidey tells one of his henchmen to take the debris to analyze it for hazardous materials. A fire fighter thanks Spider-Man for helping them clear the area to reopen the hospital, and says he doesn’t get enough credit, to which Otto replies, “Helping our fellow citizens is its own reward.” As Spidey climbs away, he reveals his true intentions of using the Inhuman technology to advance his company, Parker Industries. He wonders how the public stands, “crawling from the wreckage of one crisis, only to be hit with another.” He figures that, unlike himself, they simply accept their fate instead of improving it.
Otto’s pondering is interrupted when he is alerted of Inhuman tech loose in the city. Against its master’s orders, an Octo-Bot crawls near the window of the building in which the tech is being used and suddenly loses power. Spidey webs a net to prevent its landing on the street, and tells the man operating the robot that he is fired and needs to learn how to obey orders. Lieutenant Coyle offers to guide Spider-Man to the impact site of where the Inhuman ship landed. (May I say that the Lieutenant contradicts himself, saying that his men are evacuating the building, but then saying they aren’t because it’s low priority.)
When they reach the roof, Coyle is surprised to find that the Inhuman ship has been opened, even though the firefighters “couldn’t get inside the thing” before. Otto responds, “Well, clearly someone has. Someone ingenious enough to get past your crime scene tape.” Coyle reveals that the window radiating with mysterious lighting belongs to Arthur and Susan Schweibe. Otto figures that they went “scavenging for something to sell” and he needs to save them from their own greed and stupidity. Spidey tells a firefighter helping residents evacuate to leave, which he says he will once everyone’s safe.
As he kicks the apartment door of the Schweibes, Spidey yells that they’re endangering the lives of everyone surrounding them and to “do the proper thing” by stopping. He is shut up by a giant robotic fist. A man stands in the doorway, telling Otto that he’s always done the proper thing but the world sucked everything he had. “You won’t take our last chance!” Arthur bellows.
Arthur then begins firing at Otto, the latter who finds that his webshooters have been disabled by the technology. When Arthur misses smashing him with his robotic arm, Otto figures that he will easily beat him because he’s a “pathetic, middle-aged fool, using equipment he’s unfamiliar with.” Spidey punches Arthur and he responds by sending an electric bolt through his opponent.
Throwing Otto into the wall, Arthur says, “I’m not weak anymore. This makes me stronger. Like it makes her stronger. It tells me what to do.” Otto tries to convince him that the technology is manipulating him, but he irrationally ignores him. He rants that he’s tired of watching everybody else “get the breaks,” that people around the world are getting “reborn” by the Terrigan Mist. The technology he acquired is his miracle.
After getting beat up a bit, Spider-Man releases a web cartridge from his webshooter and throws it at Arthur. As he expects, it explodes and covers him, but it’s not effective against the technology. Arthur rants about how the heroes always heal because they’re special as he punches Otto through a wall. “She’s special. She’s special to me,” he says.
Looking behind him, Otto realizes that the other person his opponent has been talking about is his sick, bedridden wife. Judging from a drug he finds at her bedside, Otto finds she has cancer. Spidey is able to halt Arthur and tell him, “This equipment isn’t meant to cure disease. It’s to strengthen wounded warriors to fight on…while weakening the enemy. By feeding on their life force. If you keep this up, you’ll kill everyone in a fifty-yard radius.”
Arthur grabs Spider-Man by the neck and says that he’d “kill everyone in this city” to keep his wife alive. Otto tries to stop him by threatening to cut his throat, which is an acceptable way to temper an insane man. The man is still lost in his crazy logic that his wife is being cured until Lieutenant Coyle enters the room and asks, “Then why’s she asleep?”
Immediately, Otto asks why Coyle didn’t leave, but he says that there are still too many people in the area and he’s too weak to save them. Coyle tells Arthur that his wife wouldn’t have wanted him to kill innocents for her. As the Lieutenant finds, he used sleeping pills to drug her so she couldn’t stop him. “You’re doing it for you,” Coyle says.
Crying, Arthur releases Spider-Man, falls to the ground, and apologizes to his wife. Otto kills the power to the technology and tells him that it wouldn’t have worked anyways; even the Inhumans don’t have a cure for cancer. Otto recommends Arthur to bring his wife to the H.E.A.R.T. Center, run by Dr. Wirtham AKA Cardiac, where they work miracles. Arthur is surprised Otto would help him after he almost killed people but Spidey is too busy reflecting on when he was close to death himself.
Then, Arthur saddens, thinking of how he won’t be able to support his wife since he’s going to jail, leaving her alone. Spidey, judging from how Coyle has already recovered, figures that the others around have too, and tells him that he’ll convince the authorities that he was being manipulated by the technology. As Arthur’s wife wakes, Spidey tells Coyle that he’s not arresting him because he’s no criminal and “what his wife is about to face…no one should go through alone.”
Soon, Otto returns to the streets and finds one of his minions telling off a fire fighter. Spidey tells his man that he will assist them in any way they deem fit because “today, they are your superiors.” As he swings away, he says quietly that they are his too.
Let me begin saying that I read Inhumanity and Inhuman #1, and found them to be rather lackluster. Inhumanity was absolutely directionless, simply recapping the events of Infinity, and Inhuman lacked the scope that Marvel’s unduly advertised. Now, how does Marvel think they could tie anything into that mess?
Anyways, with the quality of the event aside, I found this character-driven to be rather riveting. Arthur’s story was captivating and heart-wrenching, providing an interesting struggle for Otto. Arthur ties to kill innocents around him for the survival of his wife. Otto is left thinking about his similar, more self-centered situation of how he attempted to have mostly everybody on the planet killed for the survival of his legacy when he was dying himself. It’s interesting how he was left to convince Arthur what Spider-Man had tried to persuade him of not too long ago.
Not only that, but I appreciate the emphasis on the fire fighters dealing with the fallout of the fall of Attilan. Usually, when dealing with the damage of NYC during major events, Marvel shows a few pictures of the Avengers carrying around debris and saving puppies, and the real heroes are left out. The contrast between Lieutenant Coyle’s calm approach to Arthur’s situation in comparison to Otto’s brash approach and the results of each helped accentuate Gage’s lesson of who the real heroes were in this story.
I was also contented with the few moments of this tie-in that nodded to the main series. It’s totally believable that Otto would take advantage of the situation to take Inhuman technology for his own company, Parker Industries. Also, it was cool seeing that the H.E.A.R.T. Clinic was recommended to Arthur. I may be crazy, but little continuity references please me.
Now, with my praise finished, I have complaints. The events of this issue are completely off the tonal course of the main series. After Superior Spider-Man #19, Dan Slott began emphasizing Otto’s slow fall from grace. Now, this story, with Spider-Man’s character development of realizing fire fighters are his superiors, is totally out of sync with Slott’s agenda. If this had taken place before Superior Spider-Man #9, when Otto was developing as a hero before losing himself, it would have made sense. It’s totally unacceptable too, considering Gage has been co-writing Superior with Slott lately.
My other complaint is that this tie-in was totally unnecessary. Spider-Man has very little to do with the Inhumans and I don’t even believe that he’s teamed up with them once. The only connection he has with Inhumanity is that he was involved with Infinity. This tie-in doesn’t even involve any Inhumans. The story could have easily taken place if Arthur jut found the technology in an abandoned super villain hideout. After reading this, the reader is not left interested in Inhumanity but rather wondering what the whole event is even about. To give Gage credit, though, I left reading Inhumanity wondering what it is about.
Hans’ art overall captures the tone of the script well. For example, the empty space in Panel 4 on Page 16 adds weight to what is being said and Panel 2 on the following page depicts Arthur’s defeat well. My only complaint is that some characters look flat in certain panels, but that’s forgivable considering Hans fully painted this and it’s only a tie-in.
While this is an interesting, character-driven story, it doesn't run well with the main Superior series. The art is great, though.