If you haven’t been keeping up with the Spidey news, Peter Parker’s coming back after being “dead” for a year and a half which ISN’T a spoiler because a) superhero comics and b) duh (and if you’re reading this in the future, this isn’t news at all – in fact, they’ve probably killed him off again and put Pastepot Pete in Spidey’s body – The Pasty Spider-Man!).
What the news underlines is something I’ve noticed about this series which is the episodic nature of Superior Spider-Man where each book deals with a certain stage in Otto’s time as Spidey before moving on to the next. It might seem overly efficient but I quite like it. This time around it’s Venom’s turn as Flash Thompson/Venom shows up in NYC and Spidey takes him down, separating the symbiote from him, and absorbing it himself, believing he can control it – which of course he can’t.
I want to say that this is an amazing book like the first three but it’s not. It’s what you’d expect from a Superior Venom book and doesn’t really surprise the reader with any flourishes. Dan Slott’s usual brilliance is somewhat dimmed in this book by Christos Gage, the hack he’s co-written the series with, and Gage brings his slapdash style to the story where you find yourself caring less about the characters and find your attention drifting at times with the story.
Which isn’t to say it’s all bad as there are still some great moments like when Peter invites Anna Maria to meet May and Jay and May kinda patronises Anna Maria for being a small person - it’s awkward in a slightly funny “she’s from an older generation” way. Parker Industries is up and running which I’m sure will be cool to see grow and develop in future stories and it’s nice to see MJ make an appearance in the story. The Superior Venom fights are ok too, and Flash has some interesting character moments, separated from the super-powered side of his personality.
But the ending? That’s the big payoff. Peter comes back in a big way, characters die, old characters change, NYC changes, and the Goblin King takes centre stage for the final part of Superior Spider-Man. It’s a great ending that really props the book up.
Humberto Ramos continues to kill it with the art. His action scenes are dynamic and crazy looking, his layouts are amazing, and I love the emotion he gives all of the characters with their facial expressions and body language. His design for the Superior Venom is awesome too.
Like the last book, I wasn’t as in love with it as much as I was the first three volumes of the series, but it’s still a really enjoyable, inventive and fun book in a great series. Sad to see it winding down, but all good things etc., eh? Superior Spider-Man continues to be a must-read comic for all Marvel zombies and Spidey aficionados out there.
on 27 April 2014
The Superior Spiderman Volume 5 contains issues 22 - 26 and annual 1 of the ongoing series of the same name.
In this volume, Spiderman encounters Agent Venom, a US government asset in the form of Eugene `Flash' Thompson who controls the alien symbiote parasite.
In an attempt to fix the lower-limbless Flash with prosthetic limbs of his own design, the Venom symbiote separates from Flash and bonds with Spidey. Whilst this is not a new concept, it is certainly the first time that Venom has bonded with the Superior Spiderman since being occupied by the mind and intellect of Otto Octavius.
So we now have a Superior Venom loose on the streets of New York. Enter the Avengers.
Concurrently, the Green Goblin is clashing with the Hobgoblin, Detective Yuri Watanabe is on the trail of Peter Parker/Otto, Peter's family and friends are all concerned about his strange behaviour, and Mayor Jameson sanctions the Alchemax Corporation to enhance the Spider Slayer automatons.
This is one of my favourite arcs of the Superior Spiderman series. It was only a matter of time until we had a Venom story in this new Spidey era. It's well scripted by Dan Slott and Christos Gage and superbly drawn by Humberto Ramos. I gather that Ramos is not everyone's cup of tea, with his cartoony and mis-proportioned style, but I quite like it and is a nice change from the more photo-realistic styles that are out there.
After the Venom story, the final showdown with the Green Goblin, aka Goblin King, looms and it is all now set up for the grand finale. There's also a significant piece of the story that occurs about 3/4 through the book that will set the fanboys and girls off.
The Superior Spiderman has been one of my favourite titles in the revolutionised Marvel Now! era, and this story has been one of the stand-out arcs of the whole series.
I can't wait to see what's in store next.