Published by: Marvel
Released September 4th 2013
Spider-Man v Spider-man in a new story pitting The superior against the (eternally) 2099 – who will be victorious? Or more likely, how long before they stop fighting each other and team up against a common enemy?
Previously on Superior Spider-Man: This issue sets up a nice new storyline, but Doc. Ock is still in the driving seat and the GPS is set to super-villain territory. The Hobgoblin, having had his secret identity broadcast to the world courtesy of our friendly neighbourhood super-hero, has been taken in by a new gang of Green Goblins who have found a way to fly under the spider-radar.
First things first: there are two Spider-men on the front cover so naturally they are not going to meet until the last shocking pages so stop getting your hopes up now and lets enjoy the ride – a ride that starts with 2099 Spider-Man fighting WWI fighter planes and a slightly bewildered looking T-Rex. Well that's all I need to keep my interest and if I had a Marvel drinking game I'm starting to think 'take a shot when Spider-Man fights a T-Rex' would be part of it.
We soon find out that time has been broken by the Age of Ultron storyline, and 2099's big bad, Tyler Stone, seems to be the target of some sort of attack. Since the Spider-Man of this time is his genetic offspring, he's going to have to go back to 1985 (2013) and make sure his parents kiss at the enchantment under the sea dance (people stop mucking with time). Switch to 2013 and Peter Parker is playing softball.
I never did learn the difference between softball and baseball, I would assume that the former uses softer balls... I've had a baseball thrown at me, I fully endorse this change.
It's an Otto Octavious moment here, with a nice inner monolog that lets us know how much he
relishes in the fact that the pot-bellied nerd he used to be is now a young athlete with his girl watching from the stands. It's a wonderfully written scene that not only gives a little insight into the character, but also seems to resonate with the wish-fulfilment themes of superhero comics in general.
The time-travelling intro goes mostly ignored for most of the remaining pages– the villain of the piece is introduced as ex-Horizon employee Tiberius Stone (any relation?) who seems to be whistle-blowing on Max Modell to the federal government. Time travel isn't the only thing we're forgetting as Spider-Man looks to have throttled back on his return to super-villain decent some with nary a foot soldier or spider-bot to be seen in the whole issue. It's a 'new storyline' change in pace, but while it is a little jarring it would have been difficult to keep up the momentum without forcing a conclusion of some sort before they're ready. While I wouldn't call this the perfect jumping on point for Superior Spider-Man (we're only 17 issues in, I very much recommend going back to the start) it does mean someone could start now and not feel completely out of their depth.
It is worth noting that this is very much a number one issue; Slott takes his time introducing the pieces and getting them into their starting positions for the rest of the run. The writing is excellent, as has been the case with most of Superior Spider-Man to date, and the pace is perfectly timed to make it feel like a lot more happens than actually does. The exposition-heavy dialogue and thought bubbles at the start are perhaps a little heavy handed, but it is necessary to get everyone caught up.
The series in general has been very good at not focussing on the action pieces, even letting background characters have a little development, and that doesn't change here. The bookend fight scenes are well done, but the development between them is just as interesting. One head-scratching moment, though, was a single frame appearance of Normie Osborn. This is a character I hadn't heard of from my teen years with comics so I had to look up what was happening with him these days and why he was a little... littler than I was expecting. It turns out not much has happened actually, so I'm curious where we're going with it.
The look for Superior Spiderman was basically defined by Ryan Stegman's art and he returns here with stunning results. The man even makes a group of people sat in a basement feel dynamic so when either of the Spider-Men suit up for action you know you're in for something special.
To conclude this is a fantastic read that will keep you entertained for several reads as you pick up on some of the more subtle points you may have missed the first time. I doubt it would convert anyone who's against the very concept of Doc Ock in a Peter Parker suit, but for anyone curious where this universe's Spider-Man is right now, there are worse times to dip your toe. I'm giving it five enthusiastic THWIPS before going off to read issue 18.