Posted September 9, 2013 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Superior Spider-Man #17

Writer: Dan Slott
Art/Cover: Ryan Stegman
Variant Covers: Olivier Coipel, J. G. Jones, Mike McKone

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man from a year I probably won’t live long enough to see. It was the powerhouse team of Peter David and Rick Leonardi that brought us one of the most compelling and well-received comic book series of the ’90s, the dearly missed Spider-Man 2099. With a visually striking costume, wit as razor-sharp as the claws he uses for climbing walls, and a completely different approach to crime-fighting from his predecessor’s, Spider-Man (just “Spider-Man”, because it wouldn’t make sense for people from 2099 to call him “Spider-Man 2099″) held (or “will hold”) his own against an assortment of supervillains and evil corporations in his civilian identity. Eventually, he would become the leader of all mankind, helping to save humanity from itself and ushering in a new Golden Age for civilization, a thousand years later. The Miguel in this story, however, is probably from the time between issues #25 (because Miguel already knows about Tyler Stone being his real father here) and #34 (because Tyler Stone is still in charge of Alchemax/hasn’t been appointed by Doom 2099 as Corporate Minister yet) of the Spider-Man 2099 series.

Many people were simultaneously excited and worried when Dan Slott first announced that Miguel was slated to appear in a Superior Spider-Man story arc. I remember when everyone (myself included) was thinking (hoping/praying?) that Miguel O’Hara would be the man under the Superior Spider-Man’s mask. Well, we ended up getting the exact opposite of a “thin man in a fat suit”, but it’s been 17 issues into the run and most of the people who hated the idea of Doc Ock – the mass-murdering, humor-impaired greaseball of a villain who has always been one of Spider-Man’s most terrible foes – taking over the body, life, and identity of Peter Parker have stuck around for what the good people at 4chan call “the wild ride that never ends”. Anyway, the newest issue of Superior Spider-Man finally brings us the story promised by Slott months ago, and so far it’s looking good.

Real shockin’ good.

I enjoyed this issue immensely, partly out of nostalgia, and partly because it was well-written and had practically no dragging moments. Slott’s also managed to capture the sarcastic and sometimes self-deprecating sense of humor that fans loved so much about Miguel. The Miguel in this issue really sounds like the Miguel in the original ongoing, and aside from the fact that Miguel-as-Spider-Man was a little too chatty for me (he was – “will be”? Oh God, I hate time travel – the inverse of Peter Parker: a wisecracking loudmouth in his civvies, and a serious, focused fighter as Spider-Man) in this comic, the character was about as close to perfect as I wanted him to be, and was definitely leagues better than what I was expecting from Slott. If I had any gripes about this issue, it would be how this issue seemed to spend too much time setting up instead of actually pitting O’Hara versus Ock. Give us the Spider-fight we want to see, jammit!

The issue DID pay off richly in terms of tying up loose ends, connecting the events in this series to a major Marvel event, dropping hints for upcoming story developments, and even presenting a possible explanation for the Alchemax brand name. The issue also features an Osborn you probably aren’t expecting to see (I know *I* was surprised) and confirms what practically every Spider-Man fan thought about good ol’ Tiberius Stone (I know *I* wasn’t surprised – nyuk nyuk). Slott gets extra points from me for taking an Iron Man villain and breathing new life into him as an integral figure in the Spider-mythos.

On the art side of things, I’m happy we got Ryan Stegman for this arc, because he and Marco Checchetto are my favorite Superior Spidey artists. Stegman’s busy, hyper-detailed artwork, while a bit too scratchy at times, works excellently with the script, and that last page is easily one of the most visually awesome pages I’ve seen in months. Stegman’s vision of 2099 is amazing, and I found myself silently saying “hell yeah” when I saw that he drew a featherless Tyrannosaurus rex. I also like how Stegman renders people (as opposed to Giuseppe Camuncoli’s stocky, well, everybody, and Humberto Ramos’s improving-but-still-too-cartoony civilians), and I think it’s a nice touch that we got the same guy who drew the “last” Peter vs Ock fight in Superior Spider-Man #9. It’s a brilliant parallel that gives the reader the same impending sense of dread, except this time, it’ll be two notably brutal (and clawed!) Spider-Men facing off.

I’m very excited to read the next issue. Bring it on (and please kick SpOck’s butt, Miguel)!

Below are the variant covers by (L-R) Olivier Coipel, Mike McKone, and J. G. Jones. I think I want ALL of them. Heaven help me.

VERDICT: 10/10

Visit Comic Odyssey and get your copy of Superior Spider-Man #17 now – otherwise, you might have to resort to time travel to get this issue the moment it inevitably sells out.

Mikael Angelo Francisco