Waiter, There’s a Bat In My Spider-Soup – The New Take on Spider-Man

Love it or hate it... there's a new Spider-Man. You'll mostly hate it, but that's why I love it so much!

Peter Parker is a Bluetooth-headset-wearing loser. Peter Parker is an egotistical jerk and a liar. Peter Parker is a killer. This is the Superior Spider-Man.

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Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself… if you haven’t read Spider-Man lately, let me catch you up on some things.

Peter Parker no longer works at the Daily Bugle, he now works at a tech company called Horizon Labs. J. Jonah Jameson is now the mayor of New York. Peter is divorced from Mary Jane, and Aunt May is alive and remarried. Spider-Man is an active member of the Avengers. Oh yeah… the real Peter Parker is dead, and inside the brain of what was once his body, is the mind of Dr. Otto Octavius… aka Dr. Octopus.

What’s more is that this is not some “Ultimate” story or alternate timeline… this is now the main Spider-man title; replacing The Amazing Spider-Man, which was in print since 1963. That’s bound to turn off many long time Spidey fans, but at the same time, its breathing new life into the same story we saw retold for decades. Making a darker Spider-Man has been done in the 80’s, with the introduction of the black symbiote suit that would ultimately become the character Venom.

The similarities of the Superior Spider-Man to Batman are many.

He uses gadgets like little robotic spider drones, he has a robot butler, and he beats his enemies mercilessly to the point where they fear him and hide underground.

Throw in a dash of Wolverine and Punisher, and you have a Spider-Man that slashes people open with his claws and is not afraid to use a gun. Layer that on top of all of this the evil genius of Doc Ock, and you have a Spider-Man that hires henchmen and is a maniacal control freak with a really creepy laugh.

This Spider-Man is easy to hate…

… and that was exactly the goal of writer Dan Slott. The Batman comparisons are very deliberate, they even have J. Jonah Jameson use a “spider-signal” spotlight to summon Spider-Man. So why would anyone want to read this title? To balance out Spider-Ock, you have the ghost of Peter Parker coming along for the ride. You see, during the mind transfer, Otto gained all of Parker’s memories and experiences. He actually means well and is trying to be a hero… in his own way.

Just like the fateful meeting of chocolate and peanut butter… somehow it works.                      

Ghost-Parker has to watch his worst enemy dating Mary Jane, fooling the Avengers, and at times, being a smarter, more efficient Spider-Man. It’s a brilliant way to keep in that trademark humor and not totally alienate fans by wiping Pete out of existence entirely.

There’s a lot of smart writing; like having Peter’s college professor being one of Otto Octavius’ old college classmates. As Spider-Man, Doc Ock is fighting against his old team-mates from the Sinister Six. It’s a fresh take on an old formula, and I can honestly say at 20 issues in, it keeps on getting better.

The art for the series is also fantastic. The art mostly switches back and forth from Ryan Stegman, who has a kind of modern Art Adams style, to Humberto Ramos, using a more stylized (almost manga) drawing style. Giuseppe Camuncoli rounds things out as my least favorite artist of the series… his Spider-Man seems too bulky. The way these artists are utilized is quite brilliant though, matching the tone of the story to their specific styles.

I was turned on to this series by fellow Gameskinny member Don Gibson. I find it great that we have a place to share our own personal interests and passions. Hopefully I’ve gotten you interested in picking up Spider-Man again… this is definitely a storyline that fans are sure not to forget. Actually, make sure you read the letters section as well… the amount of hate mail they get in the early issues is absolutely hilarious.

Marvel has done a fantastic job of revitalizing their most iconic character. There’s plenty of twists and turns you won’t see coming, and when the real Peter Parker returns, it will be a moment for the ages. 


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Author
Ryan Kerns
Lifelong gamer, artist, writer, lurker, occasional troll, and 1994 Blockbuster Game Tournament Store Champion.