The Superior Spider-Man #9 will, no doubt, leave many fans divided with varying degrees of equal disdain and hearty approval. In many ways, it is both a work of genius and a bittersweet beginning of a new chapter for the Wall Crawler. Dan Slott weaves a complicated web of emotion, bearing the psychological workings of Peter Parker, as he literally struggles for his soul against Otto Octavius.
Last issue, we discovered that Otto was aware of Peter’s consciousness latching on to him and, to a degree, controlling him inside his physical body. To purge this threat, Otto implements a brainwave machine and the two battle inside the mental plain. Peter fights Otto to the best of his ability, using memories of his loved ones. Otto is able to eliminate them from the battle, using Peter’s own insecurities and doubts in the form of his most dangerous villains. One by one, his family and friends are “destroyed” and his memories of them, as well as his very soul, are in danger of being lost forever. As a last resort, Peter takes the fight to Otto one-on-one. Who will win in this battle of the minds? Who is truly the Superior Spider-Man? The answer may surprise you.
Since this title started, many fans have been won over by Dan Slott’s unusual change of the status quo, rooting for the unlikely Otto as the hero of the story. At the same time, many fans hold on to the hope of Peter finding some way to return to his body and regain control of his life. While I highly doubt this issue is the definitive and final word on the subject, it does turn the tide towards a decidedly semi-permanent state. Regardless of personal feelings, it’s hard to deny that this is a wonderfully written and meticulously executed story. Peter’s mental personifications of his hopes and insecurities are very well-depicted to the reader and we get a pretty good idea of what he cares about and what he fears the most. While this story is bound to polarize a lot of fans, it is all done in a very exciting and exhilarating way. Slott knows exactly what he’s doing.
As for Ryan Stegman’s art, this is, arguably, his best work for Marvel yet. Each page is rendered in such a breathtaking way that you truly feel the intense struggle between the two powerful minds. Stegman particularly excels in the fight scenes, as we are taken on a virtual roller coaster ride of emotions, always on the edge of our seats, right up to the very last page. The coloring also brings an appropriate otherworldly, dreamlike feel to the story, giving the reader fascinating visuals to go along with the suspenseful drama.
This issue will, undoubtedly, unsettle a lot of readers rooting for their favorite Spidey and will make them question their love for both of the main characters, as well as accentuate what they’ve grown to love most about them. This issue is a turning point for the series that you won’t want to miss and will simultaneously frustrate and intrigue you. It will also make you wonder… just who really is the Superior Spider-Man?