by Kevin Fenix
Superior Spider-Man was one of the greatest pieces of literature that I have read. The concept wrinkled my brain and it did so after killing off one of the biggest influences of my life. To expand, Spider-Man is my second favorite fictional character; my first being Gohan from Dragon Ball Z. Mostly because I see myself in both characters. I’ll focus on Spider-Man since I am talking about the finale of Superior Spider-Man series.
To sum up the story arc and warn of spoilers to those who have not followed the Spider-Man comic books, the series Amazing Spider-Man, which begin its monthly release back in 1963, ended in issue 700 with Doctor Otto Octavius switching bodies with Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Otto now with Spider-Man’s body and memories left Peter Park to die in his rapidly decaying body. With a last ditch attempt to get his body back, Parker made enough of a connection to Otto to infuse him with his life’s memories, emotions, and most importantly his responsibility. Otto willfully accepts the burden, but in typical Otto Octavius arrogance proclaims he will be a Superior Spider-Man.
In the beginning, it seems Otto really is a Superior Spider-Man. Otto is more efficient, more calculated, and more ambitious. I say ambitious because Peter merely patrolled the city, but Otto policed it. Otto developed Spider-Bots to monitor the city and delegate the needs accordingly. This allowed him more time as Peter Parker, as well as enough time to pursue his PhD; Otto found it unacceptable to not be formally accredited as a doctor and still be considered brilliant. Otto also found love in his TA, Anna Maria. Otto as Peter ruined a lot of Peter’s personal relationships, like with Mary Jane and Carlie Cooper, but did do rather well with Aunt May, even being able to cure her damaged legs so she can walk on her own. As Spider-Man Otto pretty much messed up all of Spider-Man’s relationships, going as far as quitting the Avengers and messing up Black Cat’s teeth. He also changed the costume and had four metallic legs that would come out from his back.
Otto accomplished many things Peter would not do. Otto took down Shadow Land, had a personal army, a large villain like headquarters, black mailed J. Jonah Jameson, and ruthlessly injured and killed villains. He set up a seemingly powerful and stable security force ready to deal with any and all threats. He even set up his own company, Parker Industries. But in true Otto Octavius fashion, his arrogance was his down fall. His dependency on his system left him weak when it was taken down. His hubris left him unprepared and unfit to deal with the chaos brought by the Green Goblin. When everything he had built was taken down he realized he was not fit to be Spider-Man, and relinquished everything back to Peter Parker and seemingly erased all traces of himself within Pete’s mind. Peter Parker then changed back into his costume and saved the day.
Otto as Spider-Man was an incredible experience. Otto still operated like a villain; he had henchmen, a base, and acted without thoughts or consequences. One of the biggest differences was how ruthless he was, ripping off jaws, gouging out eyes, and of course killing people off. Then there was the whole Spider-Man big brother thing with the Spider-Bots too; it makes sense but it starts the whole giving up freedom for security issue not unlike Captain America: Winter Soldier. He was doing villainous things, but was being proclaimed as a great hero for doing them. The idea of doing good deeds through bad means is a very captivating and controversial topic that I believe was captured perfectly in the series. But when someone is doing obviously villainous things, but applauded solely because of their reputation, it’s like learning political science. Otto was given the admiration and respect he always believed he deserved, and he used it masterfully. His PR was so good his bad deeds were perceived as good. He had everything he wanted and it was legitimate, but it was not earned. Peter Parker earned everything through endless trials and tribulations. He knew the value of everything in his life, but most of all he knew the cost. Otto thought because he finally had it all, he could do more with it, he thought he could do more because he thought he was Superior. But in his failure at the end, he realized he was not better. He did not understand the cost of being Spider-Man, the responsibility. He did not earn the right, or the ability to be Spider-Man.
It was satisfying, and seemingly logical, to see villains get killed off by Spider-Man. To see Spider-Man use his brains and wits to create technology that would keep him free and utilize the given resources of the city to do what they’re essentially supposed to do. To see him stop pulling punches and quickly resolve matters was a welcomed treat. He has the power, the mind, and the resources, why not use it? It would be so easy. So Otto did, but he eventually realizes why Peter doesn’t. What lies in that is the difference between them, and why Peter Parker is the Superior Spider-Man.
Superior Spider-Man has a lot of political implication, moral ambiguity, and gray sense of justice, as well as psychological impacts of bullying, arrogance, and loss. It hit a huge spectrum of topics, activated a deep array of emotions, and poses a lot of profound questions. It also gets you to sympathize with a character who not long before hand held the whole world hostage. I am happy that Peter Parker is back, and how he will handle the life Otto left for him. Seeing the Goblin Nation rise as a consequence of Otto’s lack of thought on repercussions, only heightens my expectations from the blowbacks Otto’s loose ends, like with the Kingpin and Black Cat, will bring on Peter. But I will miss Otto’s version of Spider-Man. The pure belief in his superiority, his lack of second guessing, and his very pompous way of talking will be missed. I believe he transplanted his conscience into his robot and not entirely erased himself. He may have lost his legacy as Spider-Man to the Green Goblin, but thanks to Peter, the life of his love was not lost. And with how much depth and character Otto was shown to have, and being in a universe where no one really stays dead, I look forward to his return.
Writers: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, and Giuseppe Camuncoli
Creators: Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman