Posted - July 24, 2014

Superior Spider-Man 4
The Aggressive Approach

This issue is about two things. First, it's about the continuing reactions and initiatives of Otto Octavius in his new identity as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Second, its about the Spider-Man villain known as Massacre.

Let's tackle Massacre first. Here's the infomative "blurb" on him.

basic info on massacre

After decades of creating super-villains, and with all the villains ever created, one would think it would be increasingly diffifult to come up with a novel antagonist. Massacre is unique in the sense that he was created not by adding something but by taking something away. And that something is empathy. It's a subtle difference but the resulting "creature" is pretty blood-curdling. It's all introduced by a series of panels that reminds me very much of an issue of Batman.

First, we come upon Ravencroft.

ravencroft asylum

My immediate thought is "Arkham". Then, inside the sanitarium, we have this little scene.

spider=man, jameson
					and a police team inside ravencroft asylum

If you switch Spider-Man with Batman and J. Jonah Jameson with Commissioner Gordon this panel would be at home in an issue of Detective Comics. Another thing is that this can never happen to Peter Parker's Spider-Man. Look how cooperative the authorites are. Heck, they called Spider-Man over to help. No, its more than that, J. Jonah Jameson called Spider-Man to help. That can never happen to Peter in a million years, he just doesn't have the personality to swing this. And yes, I do admire Otto Octavius for being able to pull this off.

These panels show how absolutely terrifying Massacre is.

massacre attacks

The eyes of the poor doctor says it all. There is no reasoning with a man with no conscience. And no, its not the usual "man without a conscience" who is just suppressing his inherent ability to empathize. The frightening thing about Massacre is that his lack of conscience is a clinical condition. He literally doesn't have the part of the brain that allows him to feel. In that way, he's the ultimate killer.

Check out this scene at a fast food joint. Massacre drops by for food and drink and holds everybody hostage at gunpoint. I really like this detail which is clearly about Pepsi vs. Coke.

massacre in a fast
					food joint

Anyway, Massacre very calmly informs everybody that he only needs a ride and everybody will be detained at a back room while he escapes - no one will be harmed. AND HE MEANS IT. In the same way that there is no mercy and kindness in Massacre there is also no anger and cruelty. So he's all about logic and a cold, brutal honesty. This being so, it is a terrible disaster that this service crew member does this.

a fast food crew
					member hits the silent alarm

Before he kills everybody, except a mother and child that he uses as a hostage, he explains himself.

massacre close up

Massacre's personal symbol should be a gore-spattered blade. He is as cold as that steel. And as bloody.

The art in this issue is very impressive. It's by Giussepe Camuncoli. Now, let's segue over to Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man.

Right at the start of the issue we are greeted by this beautiful splash page.

					on a rooftop with spider bots

Look at the unique way Otto carries himself as Spider-Man. Chest out. Shoulders squared. Hands unclenched in a "clawed" pose. Aside from that, all those Spider Bots (which I think are a great idea) make this Otto's Spider-Man. The Spider Bots increases Otto's awareness of what's going on in New York. Superior awareness. According to Otto he's catching 400% more criminals than Parker. He even has a dollar value on how many thefts he's foiled - 12 million dollars. The downside of all this "data" is that its coming from Otto Octavius, so this pronouncements are laced with a very unhealthy does of personal aggrandizement.

Viaually, the unique lenses used by Otto on his uniform are both curious and beautiful.

superior spider-man's 
					unique lenses

Two more things about this new Spider-Man.

First, he's ruthless. So criminals just surrender.

criminals surrender
					to superior spider-man

Second he's sensible. Yes, sensible.

spider bot and 
					swinging superior spider-man

Otto is not governed by Peter Parker's great flaw: the unreasonable guilt felt by Peter Parker because of the death of his Uncle Ben. A guilt that has compelled Peter to attempt doing the undoable job of taking responsibilty for quelling every criminal activity in New York. An obsession that has nearly hijacked Peter's life.

My vote for the most amusing panel of the entire issue is this one.

otto octavius as peter
					parker throwing a fit

In front of Max Modell and Uatu Jackson, Otto Octavius as Peter Parker loses it. And why? BECAUSE HE FINDS OUT THAT SORRY-ASSED PETER PARKER ISN'T A DOCTOR. Hahaha. In Otto's world, that's equivalent to saying somebody never had any formal education at all. Not even kindergarten.

That said, I would like to note - gladly - that the Spider-Man books, as a whole, put a very big premium on smarts and education. Whether its Spider-Man - superior or otherwise - or his foes, the message is usually very stark: brain power = advantage. Add in revealing outfits worn by the Black Cat and Mary Jane Watson and we've got comics that haven't been out of print since '62.

Excellent and entertaining, and that's the issue.

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