Comic Reviews: Superior Spider-Man and Ra’s Al Ghul!
The Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 finally have it out in Superior Spider-Man #18. Now in our present, Miguel O’Hara has to prevent Otto Octavius (who’s in the body of Spid-you know what, if you haven’t caught onto this now, you haven’t been paying attention) from killing Tiberius Stone, the arrogant genius threatening to take over Horizon labs who also happens to be Miguel’s grandfather. At the same time, the “temporal event” that’s threatening to wipe out O’Hara’s present (the year 2099) is inching ever closer.
Writer Dan Slott is clearly having a blast writing this story. The opening pages deliver on what the cover promises, with a break neck and surprisingly brutal fight between Otto and O’Hara. The ramifications of Octavius removing Peter Parker’s psyche from his mind comes into major play here, as Otto has no idea who the Spider-Man of 2099 is, leading Spidey 2099 to realize that this is not the same hero he teamed up with in the past.
After a very entertaining fight, the two heroes split off on their own paths, with O’Hara going after Stone to protect him and Otto swinging off to grab his inventions before Horizon Labs closes for good. There’s a clear shift in this issue with Otto Octavius: where he was once trying to be come a better person while in Peter Parker’s body, he now is back to thinking only of himself, proving that old habits do die hard. We’re also starting to see more and more people realize that Peter Parker is not the same guy he was, which of course adds to the drama of the series.
Slott also does an impressive job of weaving in the numerous subplots in Superior into this main time travel story. In this issue alone we get a reappearance from Mary Jane, the Green Goblin masquerading as the Hobgoblin, and Liz and little Normie Osborn, as well the supporting characters from the Spider-man 2099 universe. If that sounds like a full plate, it is, but somehow Slott is able to spin all of these plates at the same time without causing the main story to suffer. If anything, all of these subplots add to the story, as it starts to showcase how difficult it must be for Octavius to keep up his act as Peter Parker.
When it comes to the art in this issue, Ryan Stegman hits it completely out of the park. Actually, I take that back. He doesn’t just hit it out of the park; he hits it out of the stratosphere. This is hands down some of his best work to date. From the opening fight scene between Superior Spidey and Spidey 2099 to “Peter Parker” ransacking his lab at Horizon, every page of this book is stellar. Stegman was already one of my favorite new artists when this series started, but this one just pushed him to the top of the list.
Superior Spider-Man #18 is, simply put, a fantastic comic. It’s got everything that makes not only Spider-Man great, but comics too. While it’s strange that an issue of Superior Spider-Man, where the main character is pretending to be the real Spidey, can “get” Spider-Man so well, it does. This book is one of the best Marvel titles on the stands and this issue is proof.
The Demon’s Head gets the spotlight in this Villains Month tie-in, and just like last week’s Riddler, we have another winner. Written by Red Hood and The Outlaws writer James Tynion IV with art from Jeremy Haun (who also did the Riddler issue), the book details Ra’s Al Ghul in modern day, meeting with a messenger from the Secret Society. The Society is offering him an invitation into their new world, and Ra’s Al Ghul, of course, will not just blindly accept it. He needs to be persuaded. What follows is an excellent overview of what makes Ra’s one of the Dark Knight’s greatest foes.
I’m not very familiar with Tynion’s writing, but he does a very good job here. He clearly has a handle on Ra’s as a character, which is something that many writers can have a problem with. Sure, Ra’s Al Ghul is evil, but he also has a sense of nobility around himself, and a great deal of respect for the Batman. Tynion’s connection between Ra’s and Batman, as two men who similarly made themselves into legends, was very cool, and perfectly captured their relationship. There are even some neat callbacks to classic Ra’s stories like Denny O’Neil’s “Daughter of the Demon” and Grant Morrison’s Batman, INC, which plays a major role in Ra’s current state of mind.
Artist Jeremy Haun’s art is perfectly moody here as well. From Eastern deserts to 1800’s New York City, Haun effectively captures the changing environments around Ra’s, while keeping a very noble air around him. It should also be noted that his action scenes are spectacular, with Ra’s swordfight with the messenger being the standout of the book.
Ra’s Al Ghul #1 is the perfect example of what the “Villains Month” titles should be. It explains why Ra’s Al Ghul is not only dangerous, but one of the best members of Batman’s rogues gallery. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be found in this issue for both seasoned Batman fans and new ones alike, and it’s even got me interested in the upcoming Red Hood and The Outlaws issues featuring Ra’s. If you weren’t planning on adding Ra’s Al Ghul to your pull list, you should, as it’s one of the better Villains Month releases of the month.