Posted January 21, 2013 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Avenging Spider-Man #16

Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Paco Medina

It’s always annoying whenever the relationship between two characters gets portrayed inconsistently by different writers.

Take Spider-Man and Wolverine, for example. They’ve been written as almost-bros by Brian Michael Bendis (in his Avengers titles) and Dan Slott (over at Amazing Spider-Man), which is well and good – it’s believable that after all their shared experiences, these two would and should have eventually gotten over their pet peeves about each other and developed some semblance of friendship. This is most evident in comic books wherein Wolverine is written as the gruff “older sibling”, treating Spider-Man like (and calling him) a kid, and being generally protective and appreciative of how the wall-crawler’s jovial attitude plays off against his own no-nonsense approach to life in general. On the other hand, we have writers like Reginald Hudlin (during his stint on Marvel Knights Spider-Man) and Jason Aaron (in that confusing and altogether unsatisfying mess of a limited series, Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine), who are apparently firm believers of the idea that these two hate each other and would snuff each other out when they get the chance. I think this portrayal is not only lazy, but also disrespectful of established continuity.

The dynamic between Peter and Logan serves as a significant point in this issue of Avenging Spider-Man; one that Christopher Yost uses as a device in order to further illustrate the difference in attitude and methodology between the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and the new, Superior Spider-Man, Otto Octavius (in Peter’s body). Otto-Peter’s arrogant, callous, and downright antagonistic attitude towards the X-Men definitely catches Logan’s ire, as he is the first one to immediately detect that something isn’t quite right about “Peter”. As it’s still Peter’s body (only with Otto in the driver’s seat), Logan is unfortunately unable to sniff him out, and Otto-Peter manages to weasel his way out of a mind-reading session with Rachel Grey through what he reluctantly calls a bit of “Parker charm”.

I normally praise Chris Yost’s work on the Spider-related properties, but for some reason this issue falls a bit short of expectations. I’m not even sure about what the problem here is – is the issue too short? Is it the unsatisfying way that things got resolved? Is it the fact that the idea of Otto essentially wearing Peter’s skin still makes my skin crawl? We do get a really nice look into the mind of Otto Octavius, dealing mainly with how he views the rest of the X-Men. His opinion of Storm is creepy, his reaction towards Wolverine is understandable, and while it’s no secret that an air of superiority is all over Otto like white on bond paper, I was quite surprised that he did not regard Hank McCoy’s considerable intellect as anything to write home about. The end of the issue also reveals the villain pulling the strings during the entire adventure, and despite him being the logical choice, well… him? Again?

On to the art – Paco Medina’s pencils play well against Yost’s action-oriented script. Exhibiting a good sense of perspective and a mastery of effective paneling and storytelling through art, Medina’s only problem here is in the way he portrays Superior Spidey. The costume is…ugly. The nose-flap bothers me (and I don’t even think it was part of Ed McGuiness’s design sketches) and the colors seem… I dunno, wrong. Then again, the alien, sickly vibe works in a sort of twisted way – I don’t think we’re supposed to like this Spidey, and really, we shouldn’t.

If anything, this issue has made me want to see Peter’s return more than ever . It’s going to hurt to see Otto-Spidey bumble and stumble his way through all of Peter’s personal relationships; it seems like this is going to be the way things will resolve themselves – Peter being alone and friendless when he returns, all over again.

VERDICT: 3.5/5

It’s a solid read – nothing outstanding or extraordinary, but definitely worth following. I still don’t buy how Otto-Peter talked his way out of a mind-scan by channeling Peter. Or maybe it’s just my bias talking, I don’t know. Whatever.

“Badger sense” made me chuckle, though.

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Mikael Angelo Francisco