The Ending of Superior Spider-Man #1

SuperiorSpiderMan_1_TheGroup-022At the end of the first issue of Superior Spider-Man, we learn that Peter Parker is still alive, and that he has limited control over Spock’s (As a refresher, Spock= Spider-Man + Doc Ock) actions. Some revelation about Spidey’s survival was to be expected after all the comments by Dan Slott during promotions for Amazing Spider-Man #700 about how there was still one more twist to the story. But it could have gone slightly differently. There are specific effects to doing this particular story beat in this way.

Doctor Octopus is unaware that Peter Parker is still around in some form. Because this isn’t something he sees, readers can be reasonably confident that this is the real Peter Parker, as opposed to a hallucination. So it removes that question of whether Peter’s mind survived, and makes it rather likely that the real Spider-Man will be back pretty soon. As a result, fans of Peter Parker can appreciate an unconventional status quo, without worrying about the morality of the character’s possible death.

Because Doctor Octopus can’t see Peter Parker (yet) he won’t be constrained by Peter’s thoughts. One test of whether his motives as a hero are genuine would be if he makes an effort to save Peter’s life. As he’s unaware that Peter can be saved, he has no obligation to change the status quo. He can also screw up more, without Peter Parker guiding him to the correct course of action. The morality is different should the former supervillain intentionally ignore the hero’s requests.

I’m not sure how long this dynamic can last, with Peter Parker unable to communicate with the outside world. Peter’s opinions of what Doc Ock is up to don’t seem like it would be particularly interesting the tenth time around, especially when he’s not able to argue the point with anyone. Solicitations for Superior Spider-Man #8 already suggest that Peter will make an effort to regain control of his body. So something may happen pretty soon to change things for Peter and Otto, although I suspect that Otto will remain as Spider-Man for some time.

Superior Peter

If Peter was able to communicate with Otto, the status quo could last a little bit longer, because there is potential in having a man arguing with his conscience. Battlestar Galactica had years of material with Gaius Baltar conversing with someone only he could see. So it wouldn’t surprise me if a story eventually ends with Peter managing to make himself visible to Doc Ock, changing the dynamic of the series once again. And there won’t be any question about what Ock is seeing, and whether it signifies that Peter Parker is alive, or that the lead of the series has gone insane. By that time, Spider-Ock would have a few victories as a superhero under his belt, so his arrogance would be slightly more justified.

The revelation that Peter Parker is alive, and incensed that Doctor Octopus possesses his body does somewhat undercut the ending of Amazing Spider-Man #700, in which Peter realized that Ock had the potential to be Spider-Man. It’s worth noting that Peter does have more options than when he was dying, and the only good thing he could so was convince a man who had recently tried to kill all life on Earth to go in a drastically different direction. Peter could also not like what he’s seen from Doc Ock since their heart to heart talk. That scene where Spock stared at MJ’s chest was unpleasant from Peter’s point of view. He also presumably doesn’t approve of all the beatings Spock has administered.

spideybeatdown

The confirmation that Peter Parker is alive echoes Grant Morrison’s conclusion of Final Crisis. For one month, the question presented to the reader was whether Batman had died. And a savvy reader knew the answer to that one. With the reveal that Batman survived, the question changed to how will he get out of this one? Even the savvy reader had to wait for Morrison to provide that answer.

So that’s a positive aspect of this cliffhanger, even if it would have been better at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #700. The media hype would have been a little different without two weeks of Marvel editors and writers halfheartedly pretending that Marvel’s flagship hero is dead.

The Infinite Spider-Man is a series of mini-essays regarding Marvel’s options for the future of the best character in comics.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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