Saturday, February 01, 2014

RE: Superior Spider-Man Part 6 (Or "Peter Parker is Indeed Coming Back!")

It would have been a hundred times more awesome if the announcement of Peter Parker’s return broke out after Superior Spider-Man #25.   Why?  For this happened…

Nobody was expecting that.  Everyone would have their mind blown by that twist – which was no longer a real twist since everyone knew Peter Parker was set to return prior to reading that issue.  It would have been as electrifying as the last page of the first issue of Superior Spider-Man.   That was a missed opportunity.

Anyway, it’s really happening! Superior Spider-Man is ending; Peter Parker will finally get his body and life back from Otto Octavius. 
When the reports of Peter Parker’s return first leaked, I was thrilled but suspiciously prudent.  But now it has finally been made official, I can relax and just be thrilled about it.  I can’t wait for April!

Here are some key quotes from Dan Slott (writer and mastermind of Superior) during some recent interviews on him when Peter Parker’s return was already established as eminent – plus, my reactions:
“The fan reaction has been brilliant. It's been so polarized and, most of all, passionate. That's great. If Peter Parker, Spider-Man and Doc Ock make you feel this passionate, even if it's pulling your hair out? That's a wonderful thing. It means you care.”
That is so true.  I can’t believe how the whole thing provoked me into writing a lot about it.  I never wrote about a particular topic as extensively as I’ve done on Superior Spider-Man.  And here I am again, writing my thoughts on Superior Spider-Man.  Heck, this is the sixth part already.  And I will probably do a seventh (and, hopefully, final) one on April to wrap things up.         
“One of the great things we got out of Superior is that something happens in every issue. When you look at it, almost every issue or arc had some massive status-quo change for Spider-Man and his world. ‘You just destroyed Horizon Lab? Spider-Man just took over the Raft? What?’ Everywhere you looked around, something happened. Working on the series, we knew from day one that we were jamming our foot on the accelerator and we weren't lifting up. We're firmly on the gas, just going as fast as possible. That's the feel we wanted for this book. It was fun to see readers going, ‘Why is something big happening all of the time?’ That was part of the energy of this book.”
It was indeed mindblowingly fast-paced, I will acknowledge that.  It was one of the positive things about the book.  The exhilarating-car-ride metaphor works.  Good one.    
- “He’s Peter Benjamin Parker – the only one, true, amazing Spider-Man. He’s been a cultural icon for over half a century; did you really think he’d be gone forever? I remember back when I heard about the Human Torch dying in Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four series, and I had plans to write some Spider-Man stories where Johnny Storm would’ve shown up. They changed because of Johnny’s absence, and the scripts I was turning in had Spidey acting the way I felt: ‘Oh yeah, Johnny Storm is dead? Hey Reed! Did you see a body? He’s gotta be coming back.’ I had Spidey in complete disbelief that Johnny was truly dead, but Tom Brevoort said I couldn’t do it that way. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked him, and he explained that I had to be true to Johnathan Hickman’s plans; I had to play as if Peter believed he was dead, to be fair to the other guy’s story.
“That’s very much how this worked as well. This has been in the works since Amazing Spider-Man #700 – the death of Peter in the Dying Wish storyline, the new Superior Spider-Man, all that. I’m kind of new at this secrecy thing, so I practiced the best poker face I could muster. At conventions and signings and public events when people asked if he was truly dead, I had to say ‘yes.’ I had to bellow it while twirling a mustache and acting sinister. [laughs] I had to own it for a good solid year; it’s akin to what they call in wrestling a ‘heel turn.’ As a writer I had to be evil and flat out lie to you. Of course, it was a lie.”
- “To do that for a solid year of my life, that’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do — to look small children in the eye at a convention and lie to them. One of them with an honest-to-God Little League uniform and a quivering lip. Inside, part of me was dying.”
- “It happened at a signing in New Jersey. During the course of that day I hit that scenario about three times. And I had to do it with a straight face. There was one sad little moppet in a little league uniform with a quivering lip who asked if Peter was dead, and I told him ‘sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes the hero doesn’t always win. I’m sorry.’ I went home feeling terrible, but I had to stick to my guns.”
Well played, Mr. Slott.  Well played.
That totally makes sense.  Everyone who reads comic books knows that death is never permanent in comics. Every character comes back from the dead, one way or another, when convenient to a current tale.  Hence, there’s the general lack of concern on comic book deaths.  So to remove this sense of smug security on the inevitability of resurrection among fandom, Slott and his co-conspirators had to maintain “kayfabe” as if SpOck (Spider-Ock) was already permanent, or, at least, a long-term status quo.   They had to sell it well to make the whole story experience emphatic to fans.  I admit that that worked brilliantly.  Indeed, with all that gimmick, everyone is more euphoric by Peter Parker’s upcoming return

Another important effect in the end is that, as Axel Alonso (current Marvel Editor-in-Chief) pointed out in one interview, people who have been taking Peter Parker for granted (after five decades of stories that featured Parker battling a recurring set of villains and personal problems) will appreciate him a little more. 
- “But there’s a twist. There’s always a twist.”
- “On top of that, Peter will have to deal with something else [when he returns]. You always have to throw the left hook. It can't just be what everyone expects it's going to be, or where there's the fun in that? There's always one more thing on top, one more twist, one more bump in the road you did not see coming.”
Uh-oh.  I don’t like the sound of that.  But this development is to be expected. 

Overall, I think I’ve had some new found respect for Dan Slott.  I’ve not yet fully forgiven him – for epic SpOck might turn out to be, it was still a blasphemous thing to do to Spider-Man – but it’s going there.  It depends on how Slott will handle Peter’s return, if all of these will be worth it.  But he had already proved how clever he is.  He clearly knows what he’s doing.  And he knows how to play work on the readers.       

As of this point, there are a couple of questions we can’t wait to have answers for.  The most important is, of course, how Peter Parker will take back his body.  But there are a couple of other intriguing questions: What will happen to Otto Octavius?  Will he end up dead, or will he remain in Peter’s sub-consciousness? 

And what is Slott’s main purpose in marooning Miguel O’Hara – the Spider-Man of 2099 – in the present?  Will he be the catalyst to Peter’s return?  Will he become Otto Octavius’ new vessel?  At this point, I know Slott always has something under his sleeve.  I don’t think Miguel O’Hara was utilized in the story just because.  There’s a deeper reason.

Spidey quitting the Mighty Avengers.
Spidey quitting the Avengers.
Will Peter Parker make amends with the Avengers?  SpOck leaving both Avengers teams he belonged in doesn’t sit well with me.  I hope Spider-Man will be accepted back once Peter returns and explains everything.  One of the most delightful and funniest moments in comics is Spider-Man’s interactions with his Avengers teammates, and it will be a terrible downer if Spider-Man will no longer be part of the Avengers.

What will Peter Parker’s reaction be when he learns that Otto had made him a doctor but had made him hook up with a little person?  Without Otto’s efficiency and organizational skills, how will Peter Parker serve as CEO of his own company?    Will he finally get to reunite with Mary Jane? 

Will Peter keep some of SpOck’s hardware?  I sure hope so!  He should keep the cybernetic goggles and the spider-bots (but make them smaller and less conspicuous, the same size of a common spider).  But the SpOck gadget I really like for Parker to keep is the retractable mechanical spider-limbs.  That gadget is pretty sensible and awesome!  He might also want to keep maintaining a secret lab or “hide-out” (maybe within Parker Industries’ premises), with the Living Brain still on hand.        

I’m extremely excited to learn the answers.  Can’t wait for April – for the culmination of Superior Spider-Man and the relaunching of Amazing Spider-Man.   So see you in Part 7 for my final evaluation of Superior Spider-Man.  Till then.  
Now, that’s what Spider-Man is all about. That’s why Peter Parker is the one and only Spider-Man!

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