Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Superior Spider-Man Volume 4: Necessary Evil (Marvel NOW!) review

The Superior Spider-Man Vol. 4: Necessary Evil

Spider-Man takes hide-and-seek pretty
Writer: Dan Slott

Artists: Ryan Stegman and Guiseppe Camuncoli

Collects: The Superior Spider-Man #17-21

Background Information:

Doctor Octopus is now Spider-Man (until he isn’t). Get over it.

Gee, that was quick.


The first three volumes of Superior were highly entertaining and well-paced. They took time to really showcase how a super-villain fights crime; killing criminals, unleashing drones to watch the city and even hiring minions complete with tanks to battle gangs. With that in mind, it’s sad that Necessary Evil sees a severe drop in momentum. The worst Superior Spider-Man volume is still better than the best Deadpool volume, but it’s still disappointing.
Yeah, shut up!

Over in the year 2099, Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of the future is noticing strange things afoot- Time is going crazy and it’s all because of something happening in 2013 and because it will somehow result in his ancestors dying, he needs to go back in time to save them. Meanwhile in the present, Otto’s workplace, horizon labs, is in a lot of trouble and will likely go under. It’s up to Otto to try and save his inventions from the company, and save the company if he has the time.

The first thing you’re going to notice about this book is the language Dan Slott uses for Spider-Man 2099. His dialogue is full of slang that, back in the 90s, writers were sure we’d be using in the 21st century. Word and phrases like “shock” and “son of a glitch” pepper the 2099 Spidey’s quips and threats. It’s true to the character, a 90s creation first written by Peter David, but that doesn’t mean that these kind of quips have aged well.

That said, Miguel is a pretty well-written character. He’s the only one with the gall to call Otto Octavius “low tech”. To a certain point, his “edgy” anger falls flat when you consider that we have two angry versions of Spider-Man (the same happened when Superior Spider-Man Team-Up crossed over with Scarlet Spider), but thankfully, 2099’s Spidey acts as an effective “voice of reason” to Otto’s self-interest.

I’m making it sound like this is a terrible book, but it isn’t. Like I said, it’s still better than the best Deadpool. Slott does a great job of really taking apart Otto’s self-perception as Peter Parker’s “superior”, as he fails to save the day, and the possibilities to come out of this volume are worth the price of the book- Otto’s new start-up company, Miguel stuck in the present, it’s all stuff that I really want to see play out.

The weakest part of this book, though is the second story arc, featuring Otto’s old flame, the Stunner. It’s largely uninteresting, and for new readers, it may as well not exist. There is a great moment where Otto is accused of plagiarising himself, but I don’t know if it justifies the existence of the arc.

Spider-Man remembers everything in the dated-art medium.
Art here continues to be solid. I miss Ramos’ art, but it’s hard for me to hate Stegman’s pencils; it’s what I cut my Marvel teeth on, and it’s great to see his style still in play- the guy just gets spider-characters.

Necessary Evil is the official low point of Superior Spider-Man, but that’s a long shot from saying that it’s a poor book. There’s some great art here and the story progresses nicely, it’s just not amazing on the way. It gets a two-and-a-half out of five best Deadpool volumes.

** ½

+ Miguel well-characterised.

+ Art still good.

- Second arc not good.

- Some “shockingly” bad dialogue.

Alternate Option: Superior Spider-Man: No Escape

A great volume to if you find yourself needing a reminder on why you read this series.

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