I don’t believe that the Superior Spider-Man status quo will be permanent, any more than the Spider-Man Unmasked period was permanent. But it’s certainly promising in the short term. The hook of having a victorious vllain trying to actually replace the hero is interesting, and can be readily explained to new readers.
“This is Moriarty in the head of Sherlock. This is Prince John inside of Robin Hood. This is the greatest villain inside the body of the greatest hero and trying to do good.”
He ties it to Spider-Man’s origin, and the themes of Amazing Fantasy #15.
“Peter Parker was selfish and horrible for all of part of one story. From then on, we’ve seen him be a hero,” Slott says, referring to Spidey’s origin. Doctor Octopus, though, “has a lot to overcome, and on some level, that road of salvation and stepping up and doing the right thing, it’s more interesting to see it from a character who has to fight his basic nature to do that.”
“He had to be a hero in his own eyes, and on some level Otto Octavius is facing that struggle not with Spider-Man’s world but with the readership,” Slott says.
“How do you get more Peter Parker than that? Now the readers think he’s a menace. That’s exciting. On a meta level, that is Spider-Man.”
When you look at Peter Parker, and the kid he was before he got bit by that radioactive spider, he was an outcast, he was a nerd, he was resentful of all his peers. One of the first things he says is, “Someday, I’ll show them all. They’ll be sorry they laughed at me.” That’s one of the first things Peter Parker ever says, when you read Amazing Fantasy #15.
Peter Parker, at that point, is a guy who could have really easily become a supervillain. We’re just all lucky he was raised by Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and even being raised by them, he still went on to become a complete jerk until the moment he learned that lesson of “great power” and “great responsibility.”
And then you look at Doc Ock. He’s the adult that Peter Parker would have become. He’s this spectacled nerd. And his first appearance is him saying, “They’re all just jealous of my genius.” This is what Peter could have become. Doc Ock had an accident with a radioactive experiment, and he became the eight legged, super-powered being. He’s almost a shadow version of Peter.
When we first meet Doctor Octopus in the comics, he’s already an old guy. We’ve never seen Doc Ock as a young guy.
[Superior Spider-Man] is Doc Ock getting a second chance at life, and not just any kind of second chance: He gets to be this young, athletic, handsome superhero with a great job and respect, who is a member of the superhero community. He gets to be accepted in ways that Otto Octavius never was.
And in a weird way, the final gift that Peter Parker gives him is the lesson of great power and great responsibility.
So now he’s been sent on the right path.
But we all know he is that arrogant, egotistical Doctor Otto Octavius. What’s going to happen now?
He’s going to try to be a superhero. He’s going to try to take this new lease on life and use it for good. But he’s Doc Ock, so of course he’s going to do it through his own lens.
That’s going to be an interesting journey.
To me, the fun of this is, for years, thanks to J. Jonah Jameson, everyone thought Spider-Man was a menace and the readers knew the whole story. The readers knew this was a good guy, this was a hero who’s not getting any breaks. They were rooting for him.
Now we’ve flipped that. It’s the Marvel Universe that doesn’t have the whole story, and they think he’s a hero. And it’s the readers who are going, “No! No! No! No! He’s a menace! I don’t like him!” The readers have become J. Jonah Jameson.
To me, that’s the greatest challenge of all. This character of Superior Spider-Man is the most “meta” Spider-Man you can get.
This Spider-Man is going to have to prove to the readers that he’s a hero. That’s an exciting journey.
What Slott’s going for is interesting, and certainly a viable story engine for at least an omnibus’s worth of material. The most fun may be seeing Spock (Spider-Man + Doctor Octopus for those unfamiliar with the new nickname) interacting with other superheroes in Avenging Spider-Man and other titles. It could be similar to what Damian Wayne brought to Batman & Robin, and the pre-Flashpoint Teen Titans.
Even stories that are familiar with have a new energy, because of Otto’s character and history. If he takes on the Vulture, he’s fighting a former coworker. If he has his own “great weight” sequence, he’ll have to compare himself to Peter Parker. Interactions with Peter’s supporting cast may be a lot of fun, especially considering the arrogance of the new Superior Spider-Man. Although there is one pairing some readers are worried about.