Comic Review: The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy

Published: November 14th, 2013
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Ryan Stegman

Marvel Comics, 117 Pages

Review:

When I heard about this series before it came out, it sounded like a terrible idea and it seemed that my sentiment was also the majority’s. However, as the series rolled on, people really started talking it up and now it is considered by many to be a high point in the decade long run of Dan Slott on Spider-Man titles. So I figured that I’d give it a shot.

The reason why this was so controversial was because Otto Octavius a.k.a. Doctor Octopus put his mind into Peter Parker’s body and hijacked his life becoming Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Yeah, it sounds terrible on the surface and comes off as a cheap trick to try and deliberately stir up controversy for publicity’s sake. And really, that’s probably exactly what it was.

Controversial moments in comics usually turn out poor results in the long run or at least on the creative side. This is a rare example of it actually working and leading into a narrative and creative direction that fans liked. In fact, this series has since ended but fans are clamoring to see the Superior Spider-Man return in some form, especially after his involvement in the recent milestone issue The Amazing Spider-Man number 800.

I don’t know why this works, as it just seems weird and unbelievable even for comic books. But somehow, you know that this is a redemption story for Otto Octavius, even if his actions to put this in motion were rather heinous. His goal is to be the “superior” Spider-Man and also the superior Peter Parker. He wants to be the best version of both personas that he can possibly be.

Otto alters how Spider-Man operates in a way that is more efficient and he also strives to better Parker’s personal life by going back to school to get his PhD.

Another interesting part of the story is that Peter still exists as a ghost that is attached to Otto but Otto is still unaware of Parker’s presence and his constant commentary on how Otto is messing up his life and reputation.

I know that the premise may sound stupid or off-putting for old school Spider-Man fans but man, this really is a good read and I feel as if it is only going to get better as it finds its stride.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Other Superior Spider-Man collections and any of Dan Slott’s other Spider-Man titles.

Comic Review: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1

Published: August 15th, 2012
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Sara Pichelli

Marvel Comics, 143 Pages

Review:

I was somewhat put off by the idea of another Spider-Man. After the whole Clone Saga debacle in the ’90s, I was still suffering from alternate Spidey fatigue. However, I heard that the earliest Miles Morales stories were really good and that he was a worthwhile character. So I figured I would check them out because I wanted to read the two Spider-Men stories as well as the Spider-Verse stuff.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed with this book, which is a collection of Miles Morales’ first handful of issues and his origin story.

I have to say, I’ve been highly critical of a lot of Brian Michael Bendis’ work but this, right here, is Bendis at his absolute best.

I have grown tired of all these new versions of old heroes because I think a character should stand on his/her own merits. However, this is the antithesis to that, as Morales is both a solid character in his own right and really, probably the best person to fill Spidey’s shoes if someone actually needed to fill his shoes. I don’t know, this just worked for me and frankly, it was a dynamite story and I truly and deeply care about this character unlike the other modern characters that are just sort of fill-ins for already established, legendary characters.

The most important thing about this comic (and the primary thing I look for in what I read) is how it connected with me. Miles is a great kid and a very apprehensive hero. He is probably the most human Marvel creation of the last decade. He’s not one-dimensional, he’s incredibly complex and is quite unique.

There’s not a whole lot I can say about the plot, as I would rather not ruin this for anyone else interested in checking out the Miles Morales character.

This moves at a really good pace and even gives you a good battle, where Miles has to deal with a well-known supervillain from classic Spider-Man lore.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: The other early Mile Morales Spider-Man stories. Also, Spider-Men I and II and Spider-Verse.

Comic Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: Go Down Swinging

Published: March 7th, 2018
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Stuart Immonen, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Cheung, Humberto Ramos, Alex Ross (covers)

Marvel Comics, 148 Pages

Review:

Let me preface this review by saying, “Holy shit balls!”

Man, oh, man… I friggin’ loved this story and this is the best Spider-Man story arc that I have read since before that 2008 catastrophe Brand New Day, which made me quit reading Spider-Man after two decades of loyalty. Yes, I even made it through that godforsaken Clone Saga in the ’90s without quitting.

While Dan Slott was a big part of Brand New Day and continued to keep writing Spider-Man for a decade, including this story, his last, I had heard good things over the last few years. But it wasn’t until I heard about this story that I figured that I’d finally give the guy another shot. Well, he’s really undone the damage of Brand New Day and also seems to be righting the ship with some of the things that have changed since then. Well, at least this arc starts with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson making out. That’s a big giant leap out of the Brand New Day muck.

So Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin, has acquired the Carnage symbiote. He sort of has it under control and used it to remove the restrictions that Peter Parker put in his blood to prevent him from ever being the Green Goblin again. So what we have now is the Green Goblin and all of his powers enhanced by the Carnage suit. So to paraphrase what the official story arc write-up said, “This is Spider-Man’s greatest villain merged with his most deadly.” Basically, shit just got real.

The story sees Osborn hellbent on destroying Spider-Man, which is made easier when he finally remebers that Spidey is Peter Parker. That’s where it becomes an all out assault on Parker and his loved ones. Osborn tells Parker to stop being Spider-Man and if he abides by this, his loved ones will be safe. Peter’s allies unite in an effort to take on Osborne but ultimately, Peter Parker has to put the costume back on and have a big showdown with this new Red Goblin for all the marbles.

The story is intense, really intense. It was hard to put down and the big 80 page finale that was issue 800 was perfection. I understand people’s reservations with Slott’s epic run on The Amazing Spider-Man but this story arc was some grade A stuff, especially in an era where Marvel hasn’t been putting out a lot of quality books.

This served to not just up the ante and give Spider-Man one of his toughest threats of all-time, it also gave closure to a lot of plot threads that have stretched decades. There is an important death in this but it was done tastefully and only made that character better. Also, it was a decades long redemption story that gave a sad but satisfying payoff for those who hated and then learned to love this character over the years.

I also thought that the art was incredible. Marvel has been letting amateurish looking art creep into their titles but The Amazing Spider-Man has kept the best of the best and the quality of Go Down Swinging is such a great contrast to the terrible Marvel books I see, wall to wall, in every comic book shop I frequent.

I can’t praise this enough. And thank god they pushed Mockingbird out of the equation, as that relationship never seemed to work for me (and others from what I’ve read).

Dan Slott may have started out throwing gasoline on a dumpster fire but he ended by giving us one of the high points in the long history of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: Since this is the big finale of the long and storied Dan Slott run, all of the Slott Spider-Man stuff before this. However, you may want to pickup the story arc Threat Level: Red, as it serves to setup this big finale. Try to avoid Brand New Day unless you’re into torture.

Comic Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: Threat Level: Red

Published: January 24th, 2018
Written by: Dan Slott, Christos Gage
Art by: Stuart Immonen, Mike Hawthorne, Alex Ross (covers)

Marvel Comics, 69 Pages

Review:

I’m reading a lot of The Amazing Spider-Man stuff leading up to issue 800, which is to be the finale of the Dan Slott era. Having just finished up Venom Inc., I jumped right into the next story arc, Threat Level: Red, which spans issues 794 through 796. It’s not a long story arc but it is Slott’s penultimate story before getting into Go Down Swinging.

This also serves to setup Go Down Swinging by dropping little hints about something bigger being in the works, as you see the original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn, acquire the Carnage symbiote.

This short arc is really just three standalone stories.

The first deals with Spidey and his girlfriend Mockingbird going to London to stop Scorpio. The second is an adventure that teams up Spider-Man and Loki, who has replaced Doctor Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme. The third and final tale sees Spidey and Flash Thompson as Anti-Venom defend a facility from the Goblin King and his Goblin minions.

While the three stories were fun, it was all mostly filler and the important bits of the story were the evolution of Norman Osborn into the Red Goblin a.k.a. the Green Goblin with the Carnage symbiote under his control.

This was enjoyable and it set the tone for Dan Slott’s final story.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The story before it, Venom Inc. and the one following it, Go Down Swinging.

Comic Review: Venomverse

Published: January 9th, 2018
Written by: Cullen Bunn
Art by: Iban Coello

Marvel Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

In preparation for the new Venom series that recently started, I wanted to check out some of the more modern Venom stories out there. Venomverse came highly recommended from a guy at one of my comic book shops. I figured that I’d give it a read, as the premise sounded interesting.

In a nutshell, after stomping a mudhole in Jack O’Lantern’s bum, Venom is zapped away to a different dimension where all the Marvel characters have symbiotes. So what you get is Venomized versions of Captain America, Doctor Strange, Wolverine, Deadpool, Mary Jane Watson, Black Panther, Rocket Raccoon and everyone else in-between. They are fighting a war against the Poisons, who are tiny aliens that absorb the symbiote heroes and villains into their own bodies and become perfect killing machines: the apex predators of the universe. Doctor Strange has been pulling all symbiote heroes and villains into the “Venomverse” dimension in an effort to turn the tide in the war.

Man, if you are a fan of Venom, this is just a really cool and fun book to read. Seriously, I absolutely loved this. I mean, Rocket Raccoon with a Venom symbiote? C’mon, man! All this thing needed was Spider-Ham and Howard the Duck in it too.

The story is really good but I barely even cared about the setup because any reason to have a Marvel Universe full of Venoms is just an awesome time. These stories don’t work so well in the regular Marvel dimension but in this Venomverse pocket of existence, things just seem to flow naturally. Plus, the Poisons were just a really cool idea and added something more to the story than just having a symbiote war for the sake of having a symbiote war.

Granted, I felt that this ended a bit anticlimactically but you also get a post credits scene just like the Marvel movies, which I thought was a neat twist. And that ending sets up the potential for the Poisons to expand into other universes and dimensions.

This was just a damn good book and pretty refreshing and entertaining, as Marvel has produced a lot of duds lately.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the great Eddie Brock Venom stories. But for more recent stuff, the new Venom series and the Venom, Inc. story arc from recent issues of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 4: Predators

Published: October 31st, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

Finally, a series of Spider-Gwen comics that are action packed and back on track! The last collection was full of holiday one-off issues and a lot of filler. Now we are back in the thick of it!

This collection brings back Harry Osborne, who is still infected by the Lizard syrum. His father Norman also plays a key role here, after refusing to help his son previously. We also see this universe’s evil version of Matt Murdock finally push Gwen Stacy into an uncomfortable direction, as she is forced to work with The Hand in an effort to capture her friend Harry.

We also get to see Spider-Gwen do battle with Wolverine, the original one, as well as this universe’s version of Shadowcat, who is more like X-23 than the Kitty Pryde we all know and love. Rhino also returns and we get to see the first appearance of the Venom symbiote but in the Spider-Gwen universe, it has a different origin.

At first, Spider-Gwen has to protect Harry from Wolverine, Shadowcat and The Hand but she eventually defies Matt Murdock and is able to turn Shadowcat and then Wolverine into allies against The Hand. All the while, she is mulling over the idea of whether or not she should become one with the Venom symbiote, as her exposure to radiation makes it “safe” for her to use, where it is lethal to any other living mammal.

The book benefits from not having Gwen go all emo, as she seems to do a lot in the earlier collections. She just jumps into the action, which there is a lot of and things don’t really ease up until the final chapter in the book, which is a side story about the Mary Janes band.

In fact, the only real negative is the Mary Janes story. Not that I don’t like their part in the Spider-Gwen universe but in this collection, it pulls you out of the running narrative and doesn’t allow this series of issues to feel like it has any sort of conclusion.

But I do like this much better than the previous set of stories and I’ll pick up the next collection when it is available.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 2: Weapon of Choice

Published: January 3rd, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

I’ve been flying through these Spider-Gwen books but I can’t help myself because I’m in love with this series.

However, this one regressed the character of Gwen after she seemed to reach a breakthrough in regards to her emo slump after the death of Peter Parker.

When she fought Harry Osborne in the book before this one, she seemed to reach some closure. But once this chapter in the series picks up, she’s back to being Queen Emo Gwen. While I understand her emotional stress, by this point, it’s really pushing this series down into the muck and holding it back from progressing. At this point, as a reader, I’m just about over it as much as her band mates in The Mary Janes.

That being said, apart from that aspect of the story, this chapter was still quite enjoyable. However, it did seem to be less cohesive than the previous two collections. But I also felt like it had a much needed slower pace after the two volumes that preceded it.

Still, a lot does happen and there are tussles with the debuting Kraven and an amusing Mysterio story. We also get out first look at Fantastic Four characters in this universe or at least, the first time I’ve encountered them.

Frank Castle returns to his evil Punisher ways and gets much closer to ruining Gwen’s life. However, his actions work against him and his obsession is made much more apparent to his colleagues and friends.

We also get more of this universe’s evil Matt Murdock and the groundwork is set for Spider-Gwen being much more involved with the Kingpin and his organization. Really, there’s just a lot of stuff established in this volume that should lead to some solid things the series can explore going forward.

This is still a pretty good collection, even if it gets held back by Gwen’s emotions and apprehension.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The other Spider-Gwen collections.