Superior Spider-Man is one of the more controversial titles of Marvel NOW! (Marvel’s re-numbering of titles and shifting of creative teams). This isn’t due to content, but rather because they killed off a beloved character to launch the title. If you mind spoilers for the last few issues of Amazing Spider-Man, I suggest you stop reading now; rest assured that Superior Spider-Man still continues some of the humor from Dan Slott’s run, but that humor could easily be twisted with the right artist into one of the best horror comics to come out in decades.
Here comes the spoilers: Amazing Spider-Man ended on its #700 issue, and with it Peter Parker died. Doctor Octopus, in a fragile, decrepit, and decaying body, switched bodies with our hero Pete; Peter Parker died in the body of one of his worst enemies, but not before he made sure Doctor Octopus knew the struggles that came with being Spider-Man (through the same technology they swapped bodies with; it’s comic book science, it doesn’t exactly make any sense). Along with The Avenging Spider-Man, a team-up comic, we’re experiencing Doctor Octopus deal with the daily struggle of being Peter Parker and Spider-Man. We also have Peter Parker himself narrating, as a ghost, as he watches in horror at how his life is being played out in front of his eyes by a monster.
Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man’s body, or Spock as I’ll refer to him from here, vowed to be superior in every way. It’s easily accessible by any new reader on the basis that they’re being thrown into it as much as Spock is. Peter Parker stands as a ghostly figure hoping that Spock makes the right choice as a hero and doesn’t revert back to his old, Doctor Octopus ways in Spider-Man’s body. Spock manages to find a balance in every story so far (almost). He adapts to the situation and is superior in a lot of ways. With his character we’re getting more, though. We’re getting a critique on those that want the heroes to escalate things a bit more.
Spock is willing to do things to villains, and to those around him, that Peter would have never done. It’s less of a, “Why doesn’t the Batman just kill the Joker?” and more, “Why doesn’t the Batman just permanently cripple the Joker so he’s a harmless paraplegic?” Peter is watching in absolute shock as Spock does this, and as Spock flirts with Mary Jane, shakes hands with J. Jonah Jameson, and creates new inventions. This is done with the classic Peter Parker humor, and a bit of it shows through Spock also, but it all could easily be the best main-stream horror comic with it. All it would take is a bit of an artistic shift, and the tone would become much more menacing.
Spider-Man was never meant to be horror though. He’s fun, lovable, has horrible luck, and is rooted for as the underdog in most situations. This is Spider-Man when he’s dark, plotting, has horrible luck, and is superior to all of his villains; as a result, it’s incredibly fun. There’s the feeling that Peter Parker is going to return to his body somehow also; whenever the status-quo needs to be brought back, it can be. As long as it’s not done in a One More Day fashion (which was addressed in the second issue in a fashion), fans will be happy to have actual Pete triumph over Spock.
If you’re into cape comics, and you’ve been waiting for a time to pick up Spider-Man, this is a great jumping on point. It’ll be overturned soon, but the changes should stick. Peter already gave up too much to Mephisto; if anything Spock will gladly give up the mask and hood by the end of the run. The one thing that stands true through Dan Slott’s run on the Spider-Man series is that it’s not easy being the webslinger.