Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Superior Spider-Man, Volume 4: Necessary Evil Review (Dan Slott, Ryan Stegman)

After all the nonsense of the Marvel Events Age of Ultron and Infinity, time rifts have started occurring leading to a 90s character being sent back to our present - that’s right, bitheads, Spider-Man 2099 is back! Meanwhile, Otto must deal with his old flame, Angelina Brancale/Stunner as she emerges from her coma to avenge her beloved Otto’s death against Spider-Man!

What the shock, you say, Spider-Man 2099? Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the character, and the whole time-travel thing is really played out this year. The storyline where Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 battle to save the future is ok but I wasn’t really invested in it. There’s a time-bomb thingy going off in 15 minutes, will Spider-Man save the day? Course he will. I suppose Peter David fans were eating it up, seeing his 2099 character making a comeback, and Dan Slott is obviously a huge fan too, but it’s a lot of the usual time-travel dialogue and future swearing (what the shock, son of a glitch, jammit, etc) and that kinda stuff just bores me.

The other storylines though are brilliant. Horizon Labs gets shut down by the government leading to Otto setting up Parker Industries with his new girlfriend Anna Maria, and Otto gets accused by Lamaze of plagiarising his own work when presenting his PhD! Carlie Cooper and Yuri Watanabe/Wraith are tracking down the source of Superior Spider-Man’s funding, leading them to Otto Octavius and getting closer to the truth, while the Goblin King amasses his growing underground group.

I really liked the scene where Otto’s wracking Peter’s memories and we see classic Spider-Man scenes with Otto in them instead of Peter - Ryan Stegman did a fantastic job of presenting them in a pseudo-Ditko style. Also in that scene, it’s subtle and you could easily miss it but Slott seems to be strongly hinting that somewhere in the recesses of Otto’s mind, Peter’s still alive in there! There’s also a brilliant scene with Black Cat - her first encounter with Superior Spider-Man - which plays out very differently to the classic Spidey/Black Cat encounters of the past in a really funny way.

I don’t know a lot about Angelina Brancale/Stunner, an overweight woman with no powers who uses a super-strong holographic avatar, but it was pretty cold to see the way Otto approached this situation - she was his girlfriend before he got Peter’s body after all. Though this is what I like about Superior, the storylines are unexpected and fresh, and this blend of super-villain prowess with heroics is a potent mix.

I feel that the new (to this series) characters in this book - 2099, Stunner - are pretty low-rent making for a less-than-brilliant fourth volume, though I still enjoyed it a lot as there’s a lot to like besides them. Slott’s writing and plotting is still first class, Stegman and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art both continue to be among the best being published by Marvel, and Superior Spider-Man is still a must-read title, four volumes in. Can’t wait to see the next story arc involving Venom - Superior Venom! It’s gonna be shocking great!

Superior Spider-Man Vol. 4: Neccessary Evil

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