Superior Spider-Man #20

 Posted: Nov 2013


In case you’ve forgotten, the Superior era of Spider-Man was supposed to be about Doc Ock’s redemption. You see, Octavius made a promise. As Peter Parker died in his arms, Otto promised that he would keep the friends and family of his long-time enemy safe. We were led to believe that Otto was going to turn over a new leaf and replace Pete as our favorite super hero. Months have passed since this promise was made though, and it’s becoming clear that Doc Ock’s pompous personality and self-serving motivations will never change. With Horizon Labs gone and his relationship with Mary Jane shattered, it seems that redemption is no where to be found on the Superior Spider-Man’s agenda.

Story 'Spidey Still Standing'

  Superior Spider-Man #20
Summary: Black Cat, Stunner
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief: Axel Alonso
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor: Ellie Pyle
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: John Dell
Lettering: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Articles: Black Cat, Sha Shan, Stunner

Months ago, during the events of Amazing Spider-Man #700, Peter Parker died. Across town at the Columbia University Medical Center though, other strange things were afoot. Julia Carpenter, who fell into a coma in Amazing Spider-Man #695, awoke with the startling prophecy that “All The Spiders Will Die!”

In a surgical room, another woman wakes from her coma. Her first words are “Otto Ocatvius. Where is he?” Once she is told that Octavius has just (supposedly) died, she explodes into a fit of rage.

Back in the present, the Superior Spider-Man is alerted to a “felony in progress” spotted by one of his Spider-Bots. The felon in question is the glamorous Black Cat, drawn in delicious detail by Giuseppe Camuncoli. As the Cat, who believes Spider-Man to still be Peter, begins to flirtatiously spar with her former lover, Ock wastes to time in punching the burglar square in the face. Despite the deceiving cover of this issue, Otto has no love lost for Felicia Hardy going back to the days of the Owl/Octopus War. Stunned as to why her “Spider” would do such a thing, Spider-Man replies that he is only “apprehending” a criminal. The bad thing is that he actually believes that beating up the Black Cat is the right thing to do as a hero. Maybe Ock really is trying to redeem himself, but only in a way that a twisted mad scientist would consider just.

After assaulting Felicia Hardy, Ock swings over to the apartment of his new flame Anna Maria. After setting up a romantic web bridge above the city, Ock shares his newest plan with Anna. In the wake of the destruction of Horizon Labs, he has decided to start his own company, Peter Parker Industries. Rather than using the money he made over the years as Doctor Octopus though, Otto decides to go to his biggest supporters for the money needed to kick start his new project. Jay Jameson, Aunt May and new partner Sajani Jaffrey all sign off on sizeable loans to get Peter Parker Industries afloat.

Elsewhere, we see that Ock’s plans and aspirations in his new life are being threatened by more than just underground goblins. Carlie and Yuri have returned Stateside with hard evidence that suggests that Peter is Otto. It seems like the payoff of this otherwise annoying side plot is right around the corner. Carlie says that she is taking her evidence to the Avengers and also plans on alerting Mary Jane. MJ, who finally distanced herself from Pete last issue, is unable to answer the phone though. She is off chasing down Pedro, the firefighter who saved her life back in {{Superior Spider-Man #10}. Pedro, who everyone calls Ollie (maybe a Spider-Kid reference?), instantly asks the red-headed bombshell out on a date.

Back in Mr. Octavius' world, Ock is preparing to present his thesis at ESU in an attempt to earn Peter Parker a doctorate. The thesis, which is based on the ability of exoskeletons to make ailing or inoperable limbs work again, wows everyone present – except Otto’s former classmate and current professor, Dr. Lamaze. At the end of Otto’s presentation, Lamaze calls out his student saying that the idea was stolen directly from the now deceased Otto Octavius. A stunned Otto vows to destroy Lamaze, which is a very villain like thing to say.

Meanwhile in an abandoned building, the woman who awoke from her coma months ago enters to find a familiar virtual reality headset. Putting the VR equipment on, the woman instantly turns into the hulking villain known as Stunner. “I’m doing this for you, dearest,” says Otto’s former lover. “In your name I swear vengeance on the so-called Superior Spider-Man!”

General Comments

One of my biggest complaints of this title so far, is that it has contained too much meaningless action and not enough of Ock interacting with the supporting cast. Dan Slott goes a long way in rectifying this complaint with this most recent installment. After his brief encounter with the Black Cat early in the issue, we actually don’t see Otto in his Spider duds again. This gives us a chance to peek in on how the rest of the cast is currently reacting to months of a Doc Ock possessed Peter Parker. It also allows us to see Ock interact with two interesting characters that never knew Peter before the body swap. I’m already worried about Anna Maria, who I believe to be a great character that has developed nicely despite somewhat minimal face time. She has certainly fallen hard for Otto and I fear what will become of her if Ock’s new world starts to fall apart in the future. If the truth comes out, will she stay loyal to Otto or feel betrayed by her beau's deception? The other new character is Dr. Lamaze, who I felt had great promise as comic relief upon his introduction and has, interestingly enough, turned out to be a major thorn in Ock’s side.

Artwise, Giuseppe Camuncoli again brings his A-game on this issue. While there isn’t a lot of action this time around, he does get the chance to draw two of the most gorgeous women in the Marvel Universe. I also like the way he draws the Otto possessed Peter differently than he drew regular old Peter Parker. The more serious wardrobe, slicked back haircut and overall staunch demeanor fits with Otto’s humorless personality. The artwork in some of the latter pages of the book do seem a bit sloppier and more rushed than the earlier pages though. The drawing of an angry Spider-Man looming over a smug Lamaze in particular looked a little off.

Overall Rating

Slott is setting up the next wave of Superior stories nicely here. Ock’s actions are sure to cause disaster in Peter’s personal life and the Stunner’s anticipated confrontation with the Superior Spider-Man has boundless possibilities. I’m more excited for the next issue of this book than I have been in months.

 Posted: Nov 2013