What Superior Spider-Man #26 offers
Spider man comics tell a heroic story with a clear set of ethics. To understand the current story offered by Superior Spider-Man #26, however, requires a jaunty bit of information:
Only moments for death, the villain Doctor Octopus – Otto Octavius – uses a science fiction device to swap bodies with Peter Parker – Spider-Man. Otto experiences all of Peter’s memories, learning that with great power comes great responsibility. He carries on Peter’s role as Spider-Man.
Keeping this plot point in mind is the only obstacle that prevents this Spider-Man comic book becoming an accessible reading experience. What Superior Spider-Man #26 offers is:
- a Literature resources – references to the German novel All Quiet on the Western Front
- War and Anti-war themes
- Resilience themes
- Critical reading opportunities
- A story that contrasts and compares Heroes and Villains
One page depicts Marvel’s Avengers arriving at a battle between Spider-man, his personal army of minions, and the criminal organisation AIM.
Captain America throws his shield. The star in the centre of the shield is overlayed with gradually fading white stars. This creates the illusion of movement. Like a spinning wheel. On the next page, Captain America catches the shield, and the star centre is sharp and still, ending the illusion.
It’s a clever art choice that enhances the energy of Superior Spider Man #26.
Artwork of two villains clashing through the air is supernatural. There is an otherworldly darkness about these scenes. Fire illuminates them. The Goblin masks transform them from humans into monsters. Depicted in eye-catching orange, purple, and green colours, these scenes are impossible to look away from.
Only one panel has questionable art. The Goblin Knight stands over a fallen enemy. Depth and perspective are missing in this panel. The art immediately returns to the energetic and detailed standard, however, by the next panel.
A quote from German Literature appears in this issue, and it’s a stunning written message coming from the villain Green Goblin. Violence and death define Green Goblin’s – Norman Osborn’s – life achievments. There is irony that an anti-war message would come from Osborn.
Peter Parker struggles against a trap set by Otto Octavius, and regain control of his body. Norman has a similar struggle against a rival villain. Explicitly, the hero and the villain share similarities in this issue.
Another ironic moment is Otto/Spider-Man complaining that the Avengers are invading his privacy. Captain America and Iron Man ask Spider-man to justify his outrageous behaviour (raising an army of spider-themed minions, for example). They ask for medical tests to confirm he is fit to be an Avenger. Otto sees their concern as an invasion and unwanted.
What’s ironic about Otto’s complaints lies in his surveillance system. Otto sent thousands of tiny spider robots to spy on the streets of New York City. While he has innovated in his battle against crime, his disregard for privacy makes his reaction to the Avengers request for information ironic.
Themes, Ethics, Values
The clear ethic expressed in Superior Spider-Man #26 is resilience. The comic book addresses this theme directly at two separate moments:
“Anyone can fight when the odds are easy! It’s when the going’s tough – when there seems to be no chance – that’s when it counts…I am the man who never gives up! That’s who I am! And I will find a way to win!”
-Peter Parker, Superior Spider-Man #26
A similar statement appears again. This time, from Green Goblin:
“Nothing keeps me down…Not death. Betrayal. Even the entire world against me! Every time I rise back up! Stronger than before! Every time!”
-Green Goblin, Superior Spider-Man #26
Both the hero and the villain have this character trait in common. It’s not unusual for a hero and villain to share characteristics. Spider man comics at Marvel are approaching another upheaval – it’s possible that drawing a comparison between Peter Parker and his nemesis Norman Osborn fits into a large set of themes and values that are about to emerge in future issues.
Norman Osborn raises an interesting point with his overtures of peace. He quotes from All Quiet on the Western Front: a book written in Germany following World War I. Osborn selectively quotes from the German text, showcasing a small item of world literature in the comic. He uses the reading to achieve his goal: lure his opponent into a fight he cannot win.
It’s a good moment for exploring critical reading: when a dubious speaker, like the Green Goblin, will use a credible source to prop up an agenda.
Superior Spider-Man #26 is published by Marvel Comics. ($3.99 USD).
Dan Slott (W.) Humberto Ramos, Javier Rodriguez, Marcos Martin (P.) Victor Olazaba, Alvaro Lopez, Marcos Martin (I.) Edgar Delgado, Javier Rodriguez, Marcos Martin (C.) Chris Eliopoulos (L.) Cover artwork by Ryan Stegman and Jason Howard.