In Superior Spider-Man #1, one of Peter Parker’s fiercest enemies plans an old (but familiar) gambit: good ol’ body swapping.
To commemorate the decade anniversary of the original Superior Spider-Man first hitting stores —ignoring the fact that they’re nearly a year late with it by this point!— Otto Octavius is once again looking to shed the Doctor Octopus persona and borrow Peter Parker’s body to become the titular anti-hero. The original Superior Spider-Man run was a somewhat contentious (but now beloved) piece of the Marvel NOW! era that represented a massive status quo change for a character whose history was already full of them. Could Otto become a better Spider-Man than Peter himself. Well, obviously not in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a fun idea. This isn’t actually the first time Marvel has revisited the concept since it initially ended (they did a second run in 2019) but because anything Spider-man adjacent is a huge seller for the company, naturally they’re putting Otto back in webcrawler drag for a new story.
Because Spider-Man is such a prolific and oft-used character, however, there’s a surprising amount of context and baggage to understand going into Superior Spider-Man #1, even for his standards. Attempting to make a long story short, Peter recently discovered he had a child sidekick (Bailey Briggs, AKA Spider-Boy) for many years before the latter was deleted from everyone’s memory but has since re-emerged, while Otto’s own memories of being the Superior Spider-Man have faded while an old experiment of his from the Superior era has returned, seeking revenge on the person she thinks ruined her life. Comics!
The problem with this Superior Spider-ManI think, based on the first issue, is that it doesn’t really fulfill the premise in a satisfactory way. Despite what the marketing may have led you to believe, Otto doesn’t actually become the Superior Spider-Man in this issue, and solicits for future issues are worded so vaguely they imply he may not even make the transformation very soon either. I could be making baseless assumptions here, but Otto is notably visible on half of the four currently solicited covers in his Doc Ock persona alongside the Superior suit, which I think is at least suspicious. I understand that this could just be the same culprit that plagues a lot of comics —decompressed storytelling— but I think if you’re picking up an issue titled Superior Spider-Man #1, you would reasonably expect to see Otto become that character by the end of the first issue. But I suppose a series titled Doctor Octopus won’t sell as much based on name alone. The point is just that I don’t know how successful this issue is at hooking people coming for what the title promises, especially if they maybe haven’t checked in on Spider-Man in a while and find themselves faced with all this new (and admittedly, confusing) lore.
But if you miss Dan Slott writing and/or Mark Bagley drawing Spider-Man, you could do worse than Superior Spider-Man #1, and it will possibly give you exactly what you want. Those two creators need little explanation, and their work here is probably exactly what you’d expect from them. I’m just not someone who has any nostalgia in particular for either with this character, so I come off reading it a little cold. (What I did love, however, is the appearance of the Marvel NOW! era F4 in the Spider-Boy backup story. Bring back Darla Deering, dammit!!)
Superior Spider-Man #15.99
- Writer: Dan Slott
- Artist: Mark Bagley (pencils), John Dell (inks) & Nathan Stockman ("Negative Reinforcement")
- Color Artist: Edgar Delgado
- Letterer: VC's Joe Caramanga
- Cover Artists: Mark Bagley & Edgar Delgado
- Editor: Ellie Pyle
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment