Anghus Houvouras reviews the latest issue of The Superior Spider-Man…
“How many have to die before the Superior Spider-Man will kill a super villain? Spider-Man versus Massacre – with hundreds of lives in the balance.“
The real draw of Superior Spider-Man is seeing what someone else would do if presented with the challenges that plague Peter Parker and seeing how they would have reacted under the same circumstances. This is even more entertaining when the person in the drivers seat is a narcissistic mad scientist with a severely warped moral compass.
The series has worked well so far because Doctor Octopus continues to treat Spider-Man’s life as a scientific equation and devotes a ridiculous amount of time and energy trying to quantify the existence of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. The Superior Spider-Man has already put some of Peters biggest conundrums to rest, including his on again off again relationship with Mary Jane (which he ended) and he has used his vast intellect to turn Spider-Man into an all seeing high tech Big Brother with drones endlessly patrolling the city.
The last two issues have introduced the new Spider-Man to a very old problem: how to deal with a remorseless killing machine. Its a problem so many comic book heroes face. Villains like the Joker who murder at will only to be captured and put into an asylum until their next subsequent breakout and killing spree. Spider-Man has to track down a vicious murdering machine named Massacre who is living up to his namesake, a villain he has faced before. A villain that will no doubt continue to do the same if he ever escapes again.
This is the kind of unsolvavble conundrum that plague Otto Octavius. These gray areas where so many heroes exist. The ones who refuse to kill, even it means innocent people may die as a result. While Peter Parker refused to cross that line, Octavius chooses to be superior. And with a single shot makes a choice that will no doubt have a lasting impact on the title. This Spider-Man is willing to kill.
This is the exact kind of story I was hoping for when I started reading Superior Spider-Man. Octavius is breaking down the idea of what it takes to be a hero. He is challenging conventions and dealing with things his own twisted way. This book is becoming a deconstructionist tome on superheroes and the rigid rules which so many live under. Its amazing to see these topics being addressed in a mainstream Marvel comic and not an independent. I expect philosophic and sociological analysis in comics, but its rare to see it on display in a flagship title featuring one of comics most iconic characters.
For the record, I’m preferring Superior Spider-Man to the original. I’m not saying it needs to go on forever, but I continue to be engaged and entertained by Superior Spider-Man and look forward to see where it goes next.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the graphic novel EXE: Executable File, is available from Lulu.com.