Two Questions About Superior Spider-Man

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Spock’s solution to the question of whether he should try seducing Mary Jane (Why bother if he can remember everything that happened to Peter?) reveals a new wrinkle to Superior Spider-Man that Slott and other writers might exploit.

There are elements of Superior Spider-Man that make this a different book than it was before Amazing Spider-Man #698. It’s revealed in the latest issue that he has the ability to experience whatever Peter Parker has experienced. This is somewhat similar to what a comic book reader can do by flipping through a back issue. It’s a bit meta, especially if you infer a message that Otto Octavius is more like the typical comic book fan than Peter Parker is.

This would allow Spock to operate in a way that differs from Peter Parker, and in a way that pleases comic book readers, who can remember events in a specific issue better than what they did at work on September 17 2008. Writers could argue that a protagonist shouldn’t be expected to recall events from years earlier, although that raises some questions about whether this is a justification of plot-induced stupidity. If Spider-Ock could suddenly remember in perfect detail the events of an earlier issue, it’s a new narrative tool to play with, especially if some fans are interested in playing along.

Marvel could release previews with Spock considering a way out of a problem, before asking readers which Spider-Man issue offers a solution to his dilemma. Whenever a back issue is referenced, that makes it more appealing for potential consumers, who may try to download it from Marvel’s website or track down a TPB in which the story is reprinted. A drawback is that these types of references could very quickly get indulgent, alienate newer readers, or seem rather childish, with actual children being unable to play along as well, since they’re less likely to have access to as many issues. I’ve also noticed on the internet that fans often get details wrong, which could also lead to some time-consuming arguments. A fan may be mistaken, but it could take some time to convince him of this.

In the first two issues of Superior Spider-Man, Spock is also much more proactive than Peter Parker, who was a fundamentally reactive character. In the first issue, he sets boobytraps for a rematch with the new Sinister Six. In the second issue, he creates spider-shaped robots to patrol the city, while enjoying a date with Mary Jane.

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It’s fitting for Otto Octavius, who has actually gone by the nickname the Master Planner before. During the Big Time era, Spider-Man had become a better strategist, using his resources at Horizon Labs to build new armors to combat specific threats. Peter’s appreciation for Ock’s tactics raises some quesitons about his superheroing, especially when he inevitably gets back in the suit. Can this become the norm for future Spider-Man stories? Or would it be a little weird if Peter is expected to be that efficient at all times? Does it really fit the character?

A smarter Spider-Man forces writers to depict a protagonist who constantly makes efforts to stay one step ahead of everyone else. This can be difficult, inviting greater scrutiny of the hero’s efforts, and the depiction of such. It would reduce the number of coincidental scenes in which Peter Parker just happens to come across a situation in which Spider-Man is needed, so that could be a good thing.

If the wall-crawler plans ahead more, it could also disrupt the balance between Peter Parker’s life and his duties as Spider-Man. Essentially, his role as Spider-Man is a hobby, even if it has contributed to some of his greatest tragedies, and some of the best moments in his life. It’s not what he does for a living. If he were to take his job as Spider-Man more seriously, it could diminish the appeal of a character who is supposed to be Peter Parker first. It’s okay to have Spock operating differently, since he’s not actually Peter Parker.

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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