This is easily the darkest issue of Superior Spider-Man yet. Octavius/Parker takes on Massacre; an emotionless mass murderer who escaped from prison in the last issue. What follows is not only a lot of great action, but an ending that makes you think. While this issue is already controversial for long time Spider-Man fans, it’s also probably the best in the series so far. There will be spoilers in this review, but I’ll warn you ahead of time.
Despite the dark nature of this comic, there are still a few lighthearted scenes. In issue four, Spider-Man went back to university, determined to finish Peter Parker’s undergrad studies and give him a doctoral degree. In this issue he meets a rather persistent tutor, and it’s a charming scene that could easily develop into a relationship. There are also a few amusing panels with various supporting characters.
The main story is the real highlight though. In Peter Parker’s fights against Massacre in 2011, he vowed that nobody would ever die again while he was around. As arrogant as that vow might be, the story surrounding it might still be Dan Slott’s best in his entire Spider-Man run so far. Now that Octavius is in Spider-Man’s body however, his methods are more … extreme.
Spoilers – after saving hostages from a warehouse before he directly confronts Massacre, Spider-Man defeats the villain and executes him in cold blood – end spoilers.
The way the fight ends makes you question how much control the ghost of Peter Parker really has, and it makes his involvement all the more interesting. Also, the last page in this comic has vibe reminiscent of “The Dark Knight” movie, yet with darker overtones. It makes you wonder how much farther the Superior Spider-Man will go in his crime-fighting efforts. They may be effective, but will he destroy all of his former relationships? If Peter Parker ever does get his body back, will there be anything left for him? It’s quite fascinating.
The art in this comic is also very good. Massacre’s emotionless expressions make him look all the more menacing, while others’ terror is easily recognizable. Otto’s smug looks in the tutor scene subtly ease up as it moves along. As with the storytelling though, the real highlight is the fight between Spider-Man and Massacre. Even without seeing his face, Spider-Man looks just as cold and intimidating as the serial killer. The panel where he walks up to Massacre’s gun is particularly brilliant.
Not all Spider-Man fans will enjoy this issue. Some may even hate it. But for those who have been enjoying Superior Spider-Man so far, this is an easy recommendation. It’s dark, somewhat weird, provocative and fun.