Review: Superior Spider-Man #6.AU by Christos Gage and Dexter Soy

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The Superior Spider-Man #6.AU
Writer – Christos Gage
Artist – Dexter Soy
Letters – Joe Caramagna
Cover – Marco Checchetto
Editor – Ellie Pyle

All through Age of Ultron #1, I was brimming with questions. First and foremost, who is Spider-Man? At first glance, of course it’s Doc Ock, the book is still The Superior Spider-Man. However, it wouldn’t be the first time Marvel has played with it’s continuity for the sake of a larger scheme, and frankly, the Spider-Man we saw in Age of Ultron was written very much like Peter Parker, not Otto Octavius as Peter Parker.

Age of Ultron jumped in the cold deep end and left us disoriented, and Christos Gage is here to answer us. Not only does he resolve this confusion with on the first page, in the first panel, in the second caption, but Christos Gage has crammed more plot intrigue, world knowledge, and characterization into Spider-Man and the surviving heroes in one issue than Age of Ultron has conveyed in three issues. By issue’s end, he even gives up the plot twist that Age of Ultron spent three issues crawling towards with sadistic delight (if you’re like me and had to read Spider-Man before AoU #3 because you had to know how the Spidey angle worked).

In a world ravaged by a sentient robot on a revenge kick, The Superior Spider-Man is Doctor Octopus, and now that he’s the focus of the story, we learn that his maniacal ego isn’t coping well with this scenario. As superior as he is, he knows he could have prevented this nightmare world, and puts the blame on Peter. And when Iron Man unveils his master plan to stop Ultron, Doc Ock is forced to play along so he can achieve his own schemes. He even recognizes that now is the time to finally act like Peter Parke and maintain his cover.

Honestly, some of that smacks of a rewrite, like this was all originally meant for Peter, but I haven’t kept up with the editorial end of things, and Gage not only presents it, but executes it so well that I don’t mind, and it’s just really cool. It’s actually about time. How will this play out against Superior Spider-Man #7 when he runs against the Avengers? I don’t know. Maybe there still is that classic Marvel incongruity, but who cares? This issue is fun.

Ever the scientific genius – you have to love the line “used his skills as a mad scientist” in the opening text crawl – Otto isn’t going to play along with Stark’s plan. No, he’s…wait for it…the superior scientist. He has a much better scheme.

Gage gives us more insight into Doc Ock working to be the superior superhero than Dan Slott has in the actual title, where I feel he reads like a super villain (albeit the tragic and relatable kind Marvel excels at) pretending to be a superhero. There’s more pain and motivation in this issue, and this is the biggest peek into how his mind works that we’ve seen so far. Especially at the end, when he realizes the power of friendship. No, really. It’s clever, Gage touches on why the Sinister Six always failed and Spider-Man and his amazing friends always won the day, and Otto takes that lesson to heart. You get a sense of redemption from Otto, which is welcome after the bland thug behaviour in the last issue of Superior.

Also, in some very brief interactions with Quicksilver and Iron Man, we see the other heroes’ admiration for Spider-Man’s (well, Peter’s) brilliance, and some acknowledgement that this isn’t the immature joker some know him as. Quick little bits of dialogue that go a long way into showing, rather than telling, thanks to the brevity of the moment.

And what moments! Dexter Soy (I last saw him on Captain Marvel) is on full art duties from lines to colors, and this book is fantastic to look at. The motion is there, keeping your eyes moving across the story, and making Spider-Man always in action or tensed for action. This is how you draw Spider-Man. The page layouts are simple and clever – not basic, but simple and genius in their execution. I really love the work put into the machinery and backgrounds. Dexter Soy is an artist to watch, if only because his skills are an inspiration.

As I said, this presentation of Peter still doesn’t click with the core mini series’ presentation of Peter, and there’s an even bigger jump from the Superior series. However, Gage has trumped both of those with his approach to Otto Octavius. As much as I enjoy the Superior book, Gage really nailed the voice. And in one single tie-in, he has told us more about the world and the characters than Age of Ultron proper. If you look closely, it even gave up Age of Ultron #3’s cliffhanger reveal without all the fanfare.

As Hollywood agency ICM says, “Concise, concise, concise.” I’m glad Gage and Soy understand that in the execution of their craft.

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