Hero or Menace?
The Superior Spider-Man #1-3
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Ryan Stegman
Colored by Edgar Delgado
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
Spider-Man is dead.
Not dead dead, of course. But in Amazing Spider-Man #700, Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man swapped minds, shortly before Doc Ock's body died of massive organ failure. In his final moments, though, Spider-Man was able to use their shared mental connection to instill in Doctor Octopus an important lesson: with great power comes great responsibility.
So what we have here is pretty simple: Doctor Octopus has taken over Spider-Man's body, but he's still committed to being a hero. Except of course, he's going to do it his way. Sometimes, this means fighting crime in clever ways that Peter Parker would never even consider. And sometimes this means taking all sorts of ethical shortcuts that remind us why Peter Parker is a hero and Otto Octavius is a villain.
For instance: injecting villains with some nano-scale spider tracers so he can eavesdrop on them is fairly clever. Using this information to set up a trap? Also fairly clever. Setting that trap in a public area in a way that needlessly puts civilians at risk? Now that's just callous indifference.
Fortunately the minty-fresh ghost of Peter Parker is still lurking in the back of Octavius's mind, providing the occasional piece of ethical advice and vainly trying to reassert his conrol over his body. Because you all knew he was never really dead all along.
A unique premise? Hardly. I've seen at least half a dozen "someone tries to replace Spider-Man" stories in my lifetime. The sheer length of this one should at least allow Dan slott to explore what it really means to be Spider-Man in more depth, though.
The first arc on Superior Spider-Man is illustrated by Ryan Stegman, and he doesn't quite work for me. His work is a bit too scratchy and angular, to the point where figures sometimes seem lumpy or over-rendered. It's not bad, per se, but it doesn't always seem to capture the right tone. He's able to capture he scenes that are meant to be horrific or grotesque, but comedy seems to fail him. Look at that scene above — Carlie's hamster cheeks just look grotesque, and the pacing feels off. Hopefully future arcs will have better art.
Separated at Birth?
They've been doing some interesting work with Spider-Man's body language to convey the change-over. His hair is slicked back, his smiles a bit too wide, his body movements a unnatural and stilted. It's effective, but I can't help thinking I've seen those mannerisms somewhere before...
Oh yeah, that's where.