Superior no more
Spoiler alert: Contains major spoilers for The Superior Spider-Man #30.
As the dust settled on Otto Octavius’ 15-month reign as the Superior Spider-Man, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sadness. Over the 31-issue run of The Superior Spider-Man, what had started out as genuine outrage at what Dan Slott had done to Peter Parker had slowly grown into a reluctant acceptance that Doc Ock really was a superior Spider-Man.
By the time the series-ending Goblin Nation arc came around, I was already rooting for the one-time villain to redeem himself before the inevitable return of Peter Parker. And redeem himself he did, in The Superior Spider-Man #30. Realising that despite possessing the superior intellect, he lacked the instinct and reflexes required to be a true superhero. So Otto sacrificed his consciousness to allow Peter to take back control of his body, in order to save the love of his life, Anna Maria.
It was a “death” scene (for we have no doubt that he will be back one day) that was worthy of the greatest superheroes (and one rarely accorded to supervillains), and showed just how far Otto Octavius had redeemed himself through his stint as Spider-Man.
So, on now to this series finale, which sees Peter mopping up Otto’s mess, first by taking out the Hobgoblin with a single blow, and then teaming up with Spider-Man 2099 (who is set for his own solo title in July) to lay siege on the Green Goblin’s (or Goblin King, as he likes to be known these days) base at Osco... sorry, Alchemax’s headquarters.
The moment when the Goblin realised that it wasn’t Otto he was dealing with anymore (through a trademark Parker wisecrack, no less) was a real pleasure to read, as was the smackdown he subsequently received from Peter.
This was a real bittersweet issue. It’s great to have Peter Parker, along with the banter and the old costume, back, but it’s a testament to just how Otto had reinvigorated the character that this actually felt like a step back for the character. Somehow, I missed the complexity and the arrogant confidence of Otto’s almost anti-hero-like Spidey, not to mention his frequent “Imbeciles!” admonishments. The Superior Spider-Man may not have been the nicest person around, but by Uncle Ben’s ghost, he certainly could get the job done.
For me, the best part of this finale wasn’t the action – it was Peter’s final realisation that despite the mess Doc Ock had made in his life, his former nemesis still had to die in order for Peter to come back. The bonus Actions Have Consequences story at the end of the book also underlined the massive task Peter has of reintegrating himself back into “his” life, as well as how irreparably Otto messed up his relationships with the people he loves, as well as with the Avengers.
How Peter deals with these issues will undoubtedly be addressed in the relaunched Amazing Spider-Man title next month (also written by Slott with art by Humberto Ramos). For now, however, let us take a moment to mourn the demise of Doctor Otto Octavius, also known as Doctor Octopus, and the one and only Superior Spider-Man.