By Christos Gage and Javier Rodriguez
Christos Gage writing an issue of Superior Spider-Man is never a bad thing. He’s typically a better writer than Slott with a more sophisticated sense to the material. This time, he gets an oversized Annual to play with and for the most part, Gage delivers.
The lingering plot thread of Spidey-Ock dealing with Parker’s personal life is somewhat inconsistent. In one issue, he’s trying to improve it. In the next, he’s completely cutting ties. Can Otto not decide what he wants or is it the writers? Anyway, Octavius has decided to spend some more time with Aunt May, only for her to be kidnapped by a crappy Ghost Rider villain.
Blackout is just the worst, but in his defense, he has the burden of being created in the early nineties. He certainly has potential, but this issue (as well as all of his other appearances) fails to provide any reason to care about him. He’s just a scary dude that is only there for Spidey-Ock to perform terrible acts on and since its Blackout, nobody cares what happens to him. You can even kill him. It’s only Blackout.
Back to those scary acts, Spidey-Ock tears out his teeth and rips out his fingernails in the single most gruesome scene in all of Superior thus far. I’m torn on this scene. On the one hand, it was crazy and establishes Spidey-Ock as a total badass. However, it feels like a bit much. Also, Blackout is half-demon –he doesn’t seem like the type of guy that would be intimidated by this.
Javier Rodriguez has a dark edge to his work, so his art fits right in with the plot. There’s also a Silver Age vibe that always works well in a Spider-Man title. He throws out some little references from the past, but things start to look very sinister after the first few pages. This all blends together nicely, as Rodriguez eases you into the darkness.
Superior Spider-Man Annual #1 is a dark tail that is a nice departure from the typical Slott stuff. There are a number of problems, but it’s a breath of fresh air compared to some of the inconsistencies in previous issues. The $4.99 price tag sucks and will turn most people off. Actually, you don’t even need to read this in order to understand future issues of Superior as this is a stand-alone tale. That being said, you could do far worse with your five bucks.