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Superior Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)
As promised, Otto Octavius takes center stage once more in a brand new Superior Spider-Man series from Marvel. After laying dormant for a few months, the character made a big return in his own Superior Octopus one-shot and the Spider-Geddon event that played out through the Fall, and now he’s got a brand new ongoing series. As a big fan of the original Superior series, it’s good to have Otto back, and the fact that Christos Gage and Mike Hawthorne are returning to the character after their Superior Octopus special makes the return even sweeter.
Picking up after the events of Spider-Geddon (which you don’t need to have read), Superior Spider-Man finds Otto Octavius living under the new identity of Eliot Tolliver, a prized professor with Horizon Labs. He’s also the costumed hero Spider-Man, or at least, one of the many spider-characters that goes by that name. Operating out of San Francisco, Otto has done his fair share to keep the city crime free, and the network of “reformed” criminals under his tutelage are doing more than enough to help him accomplish his goals of fighting crime. But when his old colleague and former lover Anna Marie returns to his life, she knows that Eliot Tolliver is not all that he seems, and is determined to reveal his secret. But when the cosmic menace known as Blastaar arrives in the Bay Area, will it be too much for Otto to handle?
One of the great things about Superior Spider-Man #1 is the fact that it distills the many events that got Otto Octavius to this place in a very succinct and entertaining way. Even though I’ve been following the character since he first swapped bodies with Peter Parker, at no point was I bored by Christos Gage’s script, which is pretty damn impressive when you think about it. Getting a new reader up to speed on just regular Spider-Man would be tough to pull off, but with a character like Otto Octavius, it’s almost impossible. But Gage somehow pulls it off, and gives Otto the type of side characters that really make the Spider-Man family of books their own. Having Otto contend with not only the villains he has working for him, but also Anna Marie, who knows first hand that Tolliver isn’t who he says he is, make s for some really fun comics, and Gage is clearly having a blast on the series.
We already know how well Mike Hawthorne can draw Otto’s adventures from the Superior Octopus one-shot, but it’s worth repeating here: the man can draw. Hawthorne handles all of the aspects of Gage’s script with ease, alternating between crazy action set pieces to inter-office drama between Otto and his co-workers. At no time does it look rushed or half-hearted, and if he can keep this up I could see Gage and Hawthorne becoming one of the great comic teams on the stands.
Superior Spider-Man is back, and while it’s got a few new tricks under it’s sleeve, it’s also refreshingly familiar. Now “free” from his villainous ways, the real hook of the series will be if Otto’s super-villainy was due to the radiation from his initial accident, and if he can truly become the hero he believes he is. I have a feeling he thinks a little too highly of himself, but I’m very much invested in the ride.