DC and Marvel have successfully utilized the concept of a multiverse, the existence of universes in parallel to our universes, for decades now. It’s useful for a multitude of reasons. It allows for slight differences in characters, universal level events that change the continuity of the comic book universe, and crazy elseworld stories. Perhaps most importantly, it means that creative teams can take their ideas and put them to comic book paper without having to worry about continuity and canon. Throwing a story into an alternate universe means unlimited potential. Characters and continuity are a playground for writers, and because the limitations of these universes are a mere shrug, the universe created by a writer can be revisited or completely thrown out without consequence. 2013’s Superior Spider-Man, largely considered to be one of the best Spider-Man stories of all time, is a product of these universal shifts and crazy changes. Now, near 6 years later, Marvel is revisiting the Superior Spider in hopes to tell another successful Superior story. It’s massive shoes to fill, and Marvel’s track record in the past few years will likely make Spider fans a little nervous.
The Superior Spider-Man in 2013 focused on Otto Octavius, better known as the Spider-Man villain Doc Ock. For a bunch of long and complicated comic book reasons, Otto switches bodies with and becomes Peter Parker. Now with memories and morals left over from Parker’s DNA mixed with his own, Otto becomes conflicted with his clashing beliefs and soon after, becomes obsessed with being a better Spider-Man than Parker was. Thus, the Superior Spider-Man was born. The Superior Spider-Man 2019 is a mostly direct continuation of the 2013 series, even though it starts back to #1 (Thanks Marvel). Otto, now going by the alias of Elliot Tolliver, a university professor, seems to have all of his stuff together. He’s by all regards better, stronger and smarter than Peter Parker. Every move is calculated both in battle and his everyday life. Parker’s remnants keep his moral compass from falling apart, and an Otto Octavius unsullied by his claimed influence that the mechanical arms had on him, is a near unstoppable genius. When faced with the scheduling dilemma Peter Parker so famously had: how to balance life with being the Spider-Man, Otto has no problems. He has no divine obligation to protect anyone. He’ll save people when convenient, and Professor when he’s needed. All seems well. Things will finally come to a head however, when he’s recognized as Otto Octavius by someone he hurt during his times as the Octopus. His past seems to be the only thing that can catch up to him, and it finally does. For the first time in the comic, Octavius seems vulnerable, and despite his claim of being a reformed man, he won’t be able to get off so easily. The sudden appearance of Terrax The Tamer, however, an old Fantastic Four villain who looks almost uncomfortably like Darkseid from DC comics, pulls Octavius away from the awkward situation with his accuser, but he won’t be able to run forever, even with those brilliant calculations of his.
It’s difficult to make any quick conclusions about this new comic run, though I’m sure comic book fanatics will have preconceived ideas regardless. The original Superior Spider-Man run was cool for a few different reasons, but one of it’s primary pulls was the ‘reformed’ Otto Octavius’s take on the Spider-Man role. His moral ambiguity and emotion-minimal take on vigilantism draws in similar ways that a character like Batman does, but even more so, Octavius’s evolution from a supervillain to a protector of the people is not only admirable, but the crux of the original run. With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see how this team takes an otherwise ‘complete’ Superior Spider-Man and makes a decent story out of it. Octavius’s character is by far the most interesting thing in this first comic, as the story is fairly nonexistent, which is mostly excusable in a first issue comic. The art, not to be ignored, is also very pretty. All-in-all Superior Spider-Man #1 is a solid relaunch of the incredibly popular series, but its shoes obviously remain to be filled. All readers can do now is wait and read, but I think and hope there are good things ahead for this new Superior Spider-Man.(4 / 5)