Friday, 20 March 2015

The Superior Spider-Man Volume 5: The Superior Venom (Marvel NOW!) Review


Superior Spider-Man Volume 5: The Superior Venom

"I think it says... SUPERIOR!!!"
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage

Artists: Javier Rodriguez and Humberto Ramos

Collects: Superior Spider-Man #22-26 and Annual #1

Background Information:

Otto Octavius, the former Doctor Octopus, has switched bodies with Peter Parker. Peter has died inside Otto’s body and now Otto is the Superior Spider-Man. He’s determined to carry on Peter’s legacy but do it his way.

His way means fighting crime like a super villain. He has henchmen, an island lab and a robot servant. Long story, short, this is a very different Spidey to what you’re used to.

Review:

The must recurring theme in The Superior Spider Man has been Otto’s skewed idea of what being “superior” actually means. Last volume saw Otto fail spectacularly and this volume is not much different. But where Necessary Evil’s plot felt lacklustre and pointless, The Superior Venom is far more entertaining, far more significant and, most importantly, far more “Agent-Venom-Featuring”.
There! See?! Even HE says it!

In this volume, Otto has found himself bonded to the Venom symbiote. Tricking himself into thinking he can control the black piece of globular doom, Otto dubs himself the “Superior Venom” and goes about terrorising criminals in a way that New York has never seen him do before. Naturally, this earns him negative attention from his family, his workmates, and his allies.

If there’s one truly effective villain in Superior Spider-Man, it’s Otto’s pride. It’s been the cause of his downfall more than the Sinister Six, the Jester, the Spider-Slayer, or any Goblin has ever been. Seeing Otto’s pride get the better of him so many times in this series, and in Superior Venom, it’s at its best.

Seeing Agent Venom here is also great; I quite like Flash Thompson as Venom. I was introduced to him in the Venom issues that tied into Spider-Island, got a second taste with Minimum Carnage, and got very disappointed by his under-utilisation in Thunderbolts and seeing him here is great. Flash is an anti-hero-turned-hero these days and that lines up quite well with Otto’s hero-turned-anti-hero vibe. What really excites me, though, is Humberto Ramos’ art. Ramos’ art can look a little outlandish when applied to completely human characters like Mary Jane or even Peter; his cartoony “jangliness” sometimes looks silly on these people. On Venom, however, Ramos’ body designs only accentuate the “alieness” of both Agent and the Superior versions of the creature
SUPERIOR... um... superior... uh... FIGHTING! I'm really
grasping at straws here.

It’s not all great, however. The Annual Blackout story is underwhelming at best. I didn’t know who blackout was at the beginning of volume, not sure I really know at end, and not really sure that I care. The issue offers some interesting Otto/Aunt May drama, and makes references to Otto and May’s almost-marriage (which I surprised Slott didn’t refer to before- kinda the elephant in the room), but the issue has no relevance to the rest of the series. Odd, since previous issues had told such a tight tale, but there you go.

Superior Venom could have done just fine without the Annual, but it’s still a VERY fun read. It gets 4 out of five globular dooms.

****

+ Agent Venom

+ Otto vs Otto’s ego

- Blackout is… meh.

Alternate Option: Scarlet Spider: Life After Death

Another dark and gritty version of Spider-Man