Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Paul's Picks! - Superior Spider-Man #9 (or the Dan Slott Roller Coaster Ride)

Superior Spider-Man. It's been just a few short months since the polarizing events of Amazing Spider-Man #700 landed, and to say that we here at the Ancillary Characters had mixed feelings is an understatement. (Check out our 2012-In-Review Episodes from the Ancillary Characters Podcast, Episode 44 and 45, to hear us hash that one out in full!) However, as we've revealed numerous times over the past few months, Mr. Slott managed to pull us in (myself specifically) through his great storytelling. After a couple of issues, I found myself enjoying the story so much that my concerns and reservations about a Doc Ock Spider-Man were overshadowed by the ├╝ber-high-quality art and writing that the team was delivering bi-weekly.

Then came...

Superior Spider-Man #9 by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman, with Edgar Delgado on colors and Chris Eliopoulos on letters.

***There are absolutely going to be spoilers for not only this issue, but previous issues of Superior Spider-Man. If you're trade waiting or you just haven't hit the shop yet, TURN BACK NOW (and come back later).***

First of all, I know that there are a ton of articles across the internet titled "Controversial ending." While I don't believe I could truly write a review without addressing the ending itself, I want to say out of the gate that this is not going to be one big analysis of that ending. This is a letter from a fan, someone who has loved Spider-Man for as long as he can remember. I'll even take it a step further: as a comic book fan, it was Slott's "Big Time" and other runs and arcs that convinced me to become a faithful reader of Amazing Spider-Man as an adult. So all in all, my relationship with Slott's Spidey, beyond the character in general, is one of adoration.

That being said, I was absolutely against the moves made in closing Amazing Spider-Man #700. I was displeased with the whole arc, and I felt like I had been cheated as a fan. It felt like a gimmick, like a sham, like "OH MY GOODNESS WHAT DOES SLOTT THINK HE'S DOING HAS HE LOST HIS MIND?!" I was bitter, unhappy, and just downright angry about it. Peter Parker IS Spider-Man, and in my own opinion, no writer had the power to change that. Of course, January rolled around, and then February, and I was still buying Superior Spider-Man. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that I found myself even enjoying it. I almost felt like I should be sneaking into corners, or taking breaks and hiding in the bathroom stall to read the book. Was I breaking some sort of code by enjoying Doc Ock as Spidey? Was it a form of sacrilege to everything that Peter Parker stood for?

Well, no. It's not. In the end, I realized that it's a comic! It's a story about fictional characters, and that's what it's all about: the story. Dan Slott succeeded in making me enjoy the book so much, by March I had long forgotten my original woes concerning Peter's death. I was just on for the ride, feeling all the twists and turns, and moving it to the top of my weekly stacks whenever it I hit up the local comic shop for my pulls.

But now we've hit issue #9. Now we've gone beyond the revelation that Peter is tagging along as an ethereal consciousness in Doc's head. We've gone past Doc supposedly killing off Massacre. We've even gone past the point where Doc discovers that Pete is trying to regain control of his own body. Now we've arrived at issue 9, where all of the things that we love and know about Peter's Spidey take form and stand against what we know about Doc's Spidey. It's the ultimate metaphoric, mental showdown inside the brain of Peter Parker/Octavius. Ryan Stegman beautifully manifests all that we know and love about this character in a final battle for who will be Spider-Man. Uncle Ben, Gwen, Captain Stacey, everyone that matters in Pete's life makes an appearance. It's a bittersweet moment as they stand up for him, for what is right, for who deserves the spot as the one and only Spider-Man.

That is, until Doc Ock stands back up against them. And suddenly, he's not just a monster that has taken what doesn't belong to him. While I couldn't bring myself to accept the changes within him at the end of #700, I felt myself believing him as he claimed to have changed significantly during his time as the Superior Spider-Man. And as he stood up for himself, claiming the successes that he has had as the Wall-Crawler, the failures of Peter Parker also became clear. Slott has crafted a story that puts Doc and Peter together in the same light: one with faults. After all, isn't that what Spider-Man has always been, the most flawed, human of the heroes? He's a hero because of his flaws. Wasn't it his ultimate failure that resulted in the death of Uncle Ben?

Don't get me wrong: I hate that Peter lost. I wanted him to win so badly... But this isn't Peter's story. Sure, he's been around, and that made the shift that much easier to accept, but this is Octavius' story. I still believe that Pete will wind up back in his own body, back behind the mask in the end. But for now, for Superior Spider-Man, Peter is gone. He had his chance to stand up and take back what was his, but his foundation wasn't strong enough. In the end, Peter failed because this isn't his time. And while I believe that Doc is living on borrowed time himself, it is time now for the reader, like Peter Parker, to accept that as it is.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below, or contact me directly on Twitter @jollygreen05 or @AncillaryTweets !

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