Doc Ock vs Shadowland
In this issue, Doc Ock takes on Shadowland, currently under the control of the Kingpin and the Hand ninjas he controls. It’s initially disconcerting just how Ock does this, with lots of big spider-bots and apparently loyal spider-flunkeys. This clearly follows on from Ock’s deal with Jameson last ish, granting Octavius his own Spider Island II as a base, but it feels like author Dan Slott has elided over too much here (not least Ock’s suspiciously familiar robotic arms). Still, it was entertaining to see them all in action, and artist Humberto Ramos does some great work in the storming-the-castle scenes
This was a fun issue: the Kingpin is usually a scene-stealer, and proved to be that here. And it’s always nice to see JJ blow his top. We also got a hint at some intriguing Goblin-related shenanigans which should prove troublesome for Ock. Here’s hoping so, anyway, because the current SSM thread of Otto Octavius crushing all who oppose him and rarely breaking a sweat is getting a little tedious, and one of the reasons this issue worked was that Ock was only occasionally the center, and then doing little more than spout platitudes.
That’s indicative of a problem with Superior Spider-Man. Slott has not yet really got into Ock’s character: fourteen issues into his deception as Spider-Man and he remains quite crudely sketched. His given motivation, of proving himself “superior,” is a weak one, and his human interactions remain largely cartoonish (except with the excellent Anna Maria Marconi, of whom we need to see more). For this book to thrive he needs to be more three-dimensional: Ock is a megalomaniacal murderous control freak, so he shouldn’t ever be a sympathetic figure, but he can at least be a recognizably human one.
I think a shake-up on the level of Superior Spider-Man was necessary. Amazing Spider-Man was floundering (ironically, due in no small part to Dan Slott’s failure to inject new life into the book). However, like most supervillain books, it’s turning into something of a one-trick pony. There’s fun lines and confrontations, good fights, but no real emotional bite. I’ve mostly enjoyed SSM, but I really am starting to miss Peter’s strength of purpose, compassion, and friendships.
Still, good issue.