Written by: Christos Gage and Dan Slott
Art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli and M.A. Sepulveda
When I first heard Marvel were planning to release two bonus issues of the “Superior Spider-Man” series as a prequel to their upcoming “Spider-Verse” event I was highly excited. Being a huge fan of Otto’s run as Spider-Man I was looking forward to reading his smug dialogue and witty put-downs once more. Now that I’ve read both issues I’ve came to a sad realisation; two issues is not enough! It may seem greedy, but I truly hope once Spider-Verse is over that Marvel put Christos Cage on a new Superior spin-off book following everyone’s favourite mind-swapping narcissist. If no such thing happens though, then I’m glad at least Superior goes out strong.
Whenever Cage writes Otto he seems to find the perfect voice for him, striking that delicate balance between being egocentric and mean while still making us want to root for him. Since this version of Otto comes from quite late in the “Superior” run he seems much more softened than he’s often portrayed elsewhere, at times he even feels sympathetic; the scenes with Anna Maria particularly lend a very human element to Otto and show that even though his view of a hero is flawed, he still has good intentions at heart. Since this is SpOck however, we of course have to seem him act arrogant around others, another area Cage deals excellently in. Pairing up SpOck with other parallel universe Spider-Men is a brilliant idea, most of the other Spideys he meets are very similar to the Peter Parker mold so we get to see friction between the idealist natures of these Spider-Men with the cynicism of Otto. It’s here were we get to see him at his most egotistical, attributing all the team’s success down to him and putting down the other Spider-Men’s intelligence in truly hilarious ways (such as the Six-Armed Spider-Man not knowing the meaning of the word ”polymelian”).
As well as giving us the glorious return of SpOck, this issue actually acts really well as an introduction to “Spider-Verse”. Usually I’m wary of tie ins and prequels to big event comics, as more often than not they’re just padded fluff meant to squeeze some extra money out of consumers before the hype machine dies down, but this issues manages to be as relevant as it is fun. Seeing a team of Spider-Men in action gave me a taste of the thrills I expect to see in the main series, but also gives me hope we won’t have to go through the typical event book problems of a few issues of set-up before we get to the fun stuff. Having a team of Spider-Men fighting hunters through the multiverse gives a great place for the main series to start at without needing to explain why they’re all here. The villains of the book also get some nice explanation, particularly in the back-up story which delves into the origins of Karn. It’s an interesting tale that sets him up well and gives him some cool motivation and some depth.
While Camuncoli’s art didn’t really impress me much during the “Amazing” series, often feeling stiff and awkward, it is the perfect visual match for “Superior Spider-Man”. Camuncoli’s Spider-Man certainly has an edge to him, he looks unfriendly and even physically imposing with fits Otto’s harsher Spider-Man perfectly. The way in which is body language and look is framed makes him feel different to Peter and is something I very much appreciate. When several Spider-Men are sharing page time Camuncoli manages to keep the action clean and clear, giving each Spider-Man their own look which makes them feel like their own character rather than cannon fodder.
Overall, while I am sad about having to say goodbye to this series once again, I’m glad we had these two extra issues to remind me why I loved it so much in the first place. The quality of these two issues ensure they should be picked by anyone who loved the original series or is looking to get into “Spider-Verse”. Here’s hoping the main event can live up to the bar that has been set here.