I had this novel idea that I would write this entire article as my evil nemesis, Dan Dougherty. But then I’d realize that if I did that, half of you would immediately swear off reading my articles. The other half would be really curious about it… but probably would keep me at arm’s length; lest people thought you actually approved of such an obvious ploy for attention. So, the question is… am I still the same Marc Alan Fishman you know and love? Or am I in fact the king of the Beardo Comics… existing in the far superior bearded body of my once and future foe?!
Who cares, let’s talk about The Superior Spider-Man. Much ballyhoo has been made of the series. Many of my geekly cohorts were quick to chastise the ballsy Dan Slott for adhering to a trope so maligned by the comic community. Many refrained on how this was just a move for marketing, and that the end of the Amazing Spider-Man series was a slap in the face to Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. I myself applauded the effort (even if I wasn’t a fan of the series prior), and vowed that this move was enough to get to give the Now! title a sample. Well, here I am at the end of OttoParker’s first adventure, and I’m pretty darned impressed.
The issue is all bluster and punches to begin with. A new-fangled Sinister Six attacks a science lab in hopes of stealing some tech. With all the super-crime in NYC, seriously, if I were a science lab? I’d move to Jersey. It may smell, but at least you’d only have to deal with orange-hued fist-pumpers. On second thought? Maybe New York ain’t so bad. But I digress. The new Sin-Six are met by our new-Spidey. Otto narrates his tale, and it’s one of the better uses of the caption-box in a long time. He’s everything I expected to read; arrogant, condescending, brilliant, and violent. With youth, vigor, and a set of super-powers that have always been used in restraint… OttoSpidey is hilarious to read. He uses his intellect as we’d expect him too—punching harder, quipping meaner, and breaking down his opponents strategy. Slott, if nothing else, knows exactly how to present a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
When the fight is done, we get OttoParker, trying to be ‘normal’. And it’s here where the book strains ever so slightly. Without knowing too much back story, it’s hard to imagine that Parker’s obvious mood-shift isn’t somehow noticed by those close to him. Slott makes it clear that Otto can access Peter’s memories, but it’s clear he has no intent on keeping up appearances. If nothing else about this book were good, I truly appreciate that we’re presented with an Octavious that knows he’s won. He’s not treating this experience as temporary. He’s making every attempt to not only enjoy his new skin… he’s planting seeds to reap in the long-game. And the fact that we don’t know entirely if he’ll maintain a truly virtuous path makes the book all the more exciting to read.
After some deliciously skeevy scenes with MJ, and the Horizon Labs staff, we’re treated to the end game. Rather than let this initial bout with the lame-o villains drag on, OctoSpidey ends things in magnificent fashion. He intelligently decimates the Sinister Six 2.0 in a fashion that is equal parts brilliant, hilarious, and dangerous. Using a villainous nature to heroic ends is something I’ve not been privy to before. I’d never read the Thunderbolts series, but I imagine it to be very similar, and I love it. Otto sets a trap for the Sinister Six, and reduces each of them into the morts that they truly are. And when things were about to get overtly un-Spidey? Slott slams on the brakes, and gives those nay-saying Superior-Shushers a glimmer of hope.
Spoiler Alert! Peter Parker, well, the ecto-cooler version if you will, is still hanging around. And to ensure that there’s an obvious escape route planned… he wants his body back. So, one issue in, and the clock is already tick-tick-ticking. Can’t say that I’m a big fan of that, but I get what Slott is doing. No better way to keep the haters coming back then giving them a glimmer of hope. Of course I’m the sadist that wants Parker to stay dead. Perhaps because I can relate…
Art chores are being scribbled by Ryan Stegman and colorist Edgar Delgado. The book is dialing the kinetic energy up to 11. I freely admit though, it’s not my bag. During the Spidey scenes, it’s all good. Everything else in the book just feels too cartoony. Stegman, a long-time Spider-artist connected to Slott, is obviously comfortable in his skin. His page layouts are always interesting. I love that he restrains himself from breaking panel boarders. His characters are all posed like action-figures—again a great attribute when punches and kicks are flying, less so during softer moments. And for what it’s worth… his depiction of the Living Brain verges on the straight idiotic. His expressions are equally hyperbolic, adding a bit to my discomfort over OctoParker’s dealing with his day-to-day cast. One would think the change in posture alone might be worth a mention. Chalk it up to the art perhaps? Who knows. Delgado’s coloring is exactly what you’d want it to be in this case. Ultimately, the art is rendered well… just not in a style I’m personally big on. Que sera sera.
So, with that, I know from Marc’s memories, that I’m to wrap things up. He’d generally say something like “Suffice to say, Superior Spider-Man was a brilliantly written, decently drawn tale that will see me back next issue with fervor.” Certainly none of you people would ever suspect that beneath this Jewish beard lay the heart and mind of a much thinner, and better looking Beardo. Wait—what… what’s happening?! I’m sorry. It’s me. The real me. I don’t know how much longer I can type before Dastardly Dan Dougherty takes control over me. Just know that the REAL Marc Alan Fishman read the book, and loved it. Slott’s got big cahones, and he’s backed them up with a Spider-Man that is new. And new is what Now is all about. So, with that being—hey! Ahem. Sorry about that outburt. So yes, go buy The Super Spider-Man, and tell them Marc Alan Beardo sent you. Bwa ha ha!