Superior Spider-Man may just be the best Spider-Man story I have ever read. Equal parts inventive and audacious, writer Dan Slott split the fan community down the middle with the simple idea of having longtime Spider-Man foe Doctor Octopus get all ‘Freaky Friday’ on our hero and swap minds. That simple, super-villainous act led to an incredibly entertaining comic that explored the life of Spider-Man from a new, refreshing angle.
And this week’s final issue, Superior Spider-Man #31, proves the series was always just one big love letter to everybody’s favorite traditional wall-crawler.
I’m still not entirely sure why comic book fans were so upset. Did they really think this was permanent? Did they think Peter Parker was really dead, never to be seen again? Do they hate Doc Ock?
Maybe there’s a collective hatred for Lindsay Lohan’s classic filmography that I just don’t know about.
Whatever the case may be, hopefully those people will be happy that Amazing Spider-Man #1 will hit the shelves in two weeks, solidifying the return of Peter Parker as the truly superior Spider-Man. Unfortunately, the imminent and highly-publicized return of that familiar series is both a boon and a detriment for the final issue of Superior Spider-Man. While it’s great to see the Doc Ock as Spidey saga reach an actual conclusion, writer Dan Slott seems to have found himself in the unenviable position of having to clean the Spider-Man slate as much as possible for the new series.
Superior Spider-Man #31 is a thrilling and entertaining finale to both the series as a whole and the Goblin Nation storyline in particular. But the entire issue feels very rushed. Slott has had a lot of plates spinning during Superior Spider-Man, and from page one of this new issue, it’s like he’s in a race to take them all down before the new series starts. I was expecting a big, grand finale, but it turns out the real, emotional climax of this series was in the last issue (and it was a great issue, don’t get me wrong).
Slott and frequent collaborator Christos Gage used the newly returned Peter Parker to essentially steamroll almost every single plot thread from Superior Spider-Man to make sure everything is tied off in a neat little bow. Green Goblin, Hobgoblin and Menace? Defeated. Anna Maria? Saved. Who was the Green Goblin? Solved. Army of Spider Slayers? Trounced. Conflict with Spider-Man 2099? Patched up. Avengers, Aunt May, Mary Jane and Carlie Cooper all still mad at Spidey? Apologized.
One after another, Slott settled plot points as if he was checking them off a list. It was frustrating.
The whole issue was just Peter Parker saving the day and quickly patching things up with his loved ones, then Slott moved a few characters around to prepare them for Amazing Spider-Man #1.
And maybe that was Slott’s point. Otto Octavius couldn’t handle it as a superhero. But once Peter Parker put on the webs again, he took care of the Goblin with ease and settled almost all of the outstanding problems. That’s why he’s the best Spider-Man. That’s the love letter aspect of Superior Spider-Man.
I think the problem is that Superior just didn’t have enough time to really alter Peter Parker’s life to any grand degree. All Peter and Spidey have to do is apologize for acting a little weird lately, and most characters happily accept that explanation. Those who finally find out that he was possessed by Doc Ock – like Mary Jane – just sweep it under the rug because it doesn’t really matter. And I guess, in the end, it doesn’t. It was just another weird event in the life of Peter Parker.
Fortunately, Slott doesn’t clean the slate completely. It seems that he’s going to be saving the Anna Maria and the Parker Industries stories for Amazing Spider-Man – but that’s another problem. Those were the two biggest changes brought to Peter’s life in Superior Spider-Man, but they don’t get resolved at the end of Superior Spider-Man. Nor is there any grand exploration of Peter vs. Otto. With the exception of a single panel of remorse, Peter doesn’t even think about Doc Ock at all. There’s no great treatise on the difference between the two Spider-Men. But I did really love the previous issue, so maybe that will just have to be enough.
Despite its pacing problems, Superior Spider-Man #31 was still a very entertaining read. And the art by Guiseppe Camuncoli and Will Sliney keep the story rolling. Camuncoli handled the first half of the story, with Spider-Man racing to save the day and defeat the Green Goblin. He’s been stellar for the entire Goblin Nation arc, and all of Spider-Man, frankly, keeping the action lively and the character moments important. The colors are equally as bright and exciting. Camuncoli was a fine choice for this finale story arc. Sliney draws the second half, an extended epilogue (written by Gage) that wraps up some of the changes to Peter Parker’s personal life. Sliney’s art fine work, though it’s a little wonky at times. Still, it holds up nicely as an epilogue piece.
With all of that being said, Spidey fans can now rest easy once again. Peter Parker is still the hero you’ve always loved.
Rating – 8/10.