Covering Issues #1-6
Let's put Amazing Spider-Man #700 to the side and just focus on Superior for a moment. The story picks up mere days after Otto has taken over Peter's life and shows his assimilation into his new roles. Otto is unapologetic where fighting villains is concerned. He goes all out, aiming to maim or kill the foes he faces in order to discourage them from future crimes. Otto even brings up the classic revolving villains argument that is usually just outside superhero comics; however, there is a force holding him back. Peter Parker is not completely gone. Some shred of him remains, and he's trying to take back control of his body. This apparition Peter is completely uninspired. As a comics fan, I saw this coming, but I'm actually disappointed by it being an element introduced so soon in Superior's run. While most of what this disembodied Peter does is cliché and boring, there are a few benefits to having Peter around. His commentary about Otto's actions help put them more in context compared to the Spidey we all know and love, and while he's rummaging around in their shared mind, Peter stumbles across some of Otto's memories. This is a brilliant way to shed some more light on what drives Otto to try and be a force, if a twisted one, for good, and to show more than just his villainous side that has been largely seen during his time in Spider-Man comics.
While he's not Peter, heroic Otto is vastly entertaining. Just because he's Spider-Man now doesn't mean he's left his old tricks behind. He brings a dash of mad scientist to the character as he incorporates more gadgets into his vigilante arsenal and starts to look for ways to make his job as Spider-Man easier. His manner of speech and behavior is separate from Peter's, villainous and arrogant sounding, and very funny to read in traditional Spider-Man contexts like chatting with MJ or bantering with a foe. I'm also pleased with Otto's interactions with the now Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, which can be summed up with the word frenemies. But, Superior Spider-Man isn't solely focused on the cast from Peter's life; several new characters are introduced. I'm especially fond of Anna Maria Marconi, Otto's Physics tutor as he works towards earning a doctorate in Peter's name, so he can once again have the “proper” salutation. Anna and Otto's interactions are cute, and she seems like a great character to try and pull him back from the edge.
I'm not a fan of the art direction. Three artists have been on the first six issues: Ryan Stegman, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Humberto Ramos. In particular, I'm not a huge fan of the way Camuncoli and Ramos draw characters. In these later issues, Otto in particular looks ridiculous and way too over the top in every panel, whether it's deserved or not. Ramos' art in particular has bothered me in the past on other titles, and on Superior Spider-Man, it's better but still one I can't get behind. I appreciate the similar but different look they went for on Otto's Spider-Man costume - removing the blue for more black is a nice touch - but the separate toe on the boots is weird, and I hate the changes to the lenses of the mask. While not apparent on the issue covers, there are segments running through it that are used to show off some of Otto's emotions, but it just looks goofy to me.
Superior Spider-Man is something fresh and new, while I don't want to see Otto's Spidey as a permanent fixture of the Marvel Universe, for the time being I'm at least as entertained by this book as I am frustrated by it. Going forward, I'd like to see some different artists on the title who can draw a normal character model, but storywise I like the direction it's going. The ramifications of Otto's actions are about to start coming into play, and I can't wait to see how the former supervillain will handle the added pressure.