Everybody loves a good antihero, especially in tales of redemption in which a bad person wants to become good through heroic acts. Superior Spider-Man is one of those tales. The story begins in the long going Amazing Spider-Man series Issue #700, where Doctor Octopus implants himself into Peter’s brain, switching their consciousnesses. He quickly realizes this was a mistake and tells Peter who is now in his body that “I don’t want this.” to which Peter can only reply “You better…you’re Spider-Man now.” Doctor Octopus then promises Peter that he will take his place and protect the city.
The story begins with Otto Octavius, who now possesses the body of Peter Parker, standing at his own grave. He denounces his old evil ways and promises a new life of no more crime and making right all of the evil he had done in the past.
I enjoyed this part heavily as Otto’s first thought it just to ease into the life that Peter had. Then after a while he realizes that Peter’s life just wasn’t for him. He wasn’t attracted to the beautiful Mary Jane, he wasn’t satisfied that Peter didn’t have a doctorate, and the Spider-Man suit of all things was also not up to Otto’s standards.
Readers then get to see the re-imagined suit where Otto has four spider-leg-like appendages and a button on his symbol on his chest with many tricks and inventions implemented into the suit that Peter never could have done. He also enrolls in school to get his doctorate, leading him to opening Parker Industries, where he would create many different inventions, including one to help Aunt May walk without her walker.
Most importantly, he meets the love of his life, Anna Maria, a little person who is attending the same college to get her doctorate. The two begin studying together and quickly fall in love. I normally don’t like the romance scenes in the comics as they are usually all the same, but this one was different. Otto loved her for her brain whereas Peter, described as “more closed minded” than Otto by author Dan Slott , loved Mary Jane mostly for her good looks. The two have amazing chemistry throughout the comic and there is a lot of build up of genuine care between them.
Being A Superior Spider-Man
Throughout the comic, we see Otto implement things and strategies that Peter could never hoped to accomplish. In one of the first issues we see the creation of Spider-Bots, thousands of small robots with surveillance cameras, a report to the NYPD system, and many more. Otto is also known for general intelligence, when fighting the Spider-Slayer he predicted he would attempt to steal his body, so he attached a metal plate to the back of his head in the Spider-Man suit.
Another good example is when he calls villains by their real name to demean them like when he fought Hobgoblin and when he escaped, announced to the whole city that his real name was Phillip Urich leading him to panic. There was also a couple issues where he controls the Venom Symbiote and is able to take on all of the Avengers at once, and then when he loses it, plays it off like it controlled his brain.
The Flaws of Superiority
Just like every well-developed character, Superior Spider-Man come accompanied by his own flaws. Although Otto excels in many things that Peter did not, there are quite a few things that Otto doesn’t do well at. For one, he is extremely prideful and will often underestimate his opponents and even with his amazing advantages, they will surprise him. Another downfall to that pride is he couldn’t admit this Spider-Bots were hacked by The Green Goblin to ignore all Goblin Gang crime around the city.
Second, he was once a villain and does not possess the innate heroic nature that Peter did. There are times where he would rather have civilians possibly die to make the most statistically logical approach to a situation. Finally, near the end of the comic he realizes that Peter truly is the Superior Spider-Man. The Green Goblin had captured Anna Maria and he knew that only Peter had the skills needed to take him down for good. He invents a machine to give the tiny bit of Peter’s subconscious left in his head back to him with his final words being “You, are superior.”
Good Character and Development
Superior Spider-Man shows us the misunderstood genius of Otto Octavious who was abused as a child, shunned by known heroes like Dr. Strange when approaching them with inventions, and never feeling that anyone he could meet could surpass his intelligence.
This shows that almost every villain in the Marvel Universe may have good in them but never has a chance to show it. In Otto’s case he would give up his new life back to Peter to save Anna Maria, stating “And to save her, I would give up every part of that love. For I know….only you can save her. Because you are the Superior Spider-Man.” Not only would we see Otto become a more caring person throughout the series, but more heroic, and to the point where he made a self-sacrifice that he was never capable of before.
Superior Spider-Man is my favorite comic series to date. There are many other antihero stories out there, but in my opinion they do not nail all of the developmental and storytelling elements that this series does. Things like this also help break from the monogamy of heroes saving people because they are heroes stories that we see all the time. This is a great series of comics and I can definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good story.