Monday, August 12, 2013

Superior Spider-Man #12 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

This issue seems to address two of the things that have been bothering me for a while.

First, I never really believed Otto's conversion to a good guy.  I could see, I guess, why he would be inspired to have Spider-Man stay a good guy, if only for the selfish reason of not finding himself a hunted criminal again.  But, his commitment to saving innocent lives, even if only to show Peter how superior he was as Spider-Man, never really felt true to me.  Here, we see Otto more or less ditch that oath to protect innocent lives, leaving Gloria, Norah, and the remaining civilians on the Raft to their fate at the hands of the Vulture in order to pursue the Spider-Slayer.  Otto is clearly chosing eliminating a threat (and a rival) as well as currying favor with JJJ, Jr. over saving lives.  That, I buy from Otto.  Otto sees everything in terms of power, so taking out the Spider-Slayer is more important to him than saving people.  Interestingly, Slott doesn't make a direct connection between Otto's more aggressive behavior here and his loss of Peter's memories.  (He was previously aggressive, but, even when he murdered Massacre, he was doing so to protect innocent people, at least tangentially.  Here, he's willingly sacrificing them.)  Otto losing his moral compass with the memories was a working hypothesis after the events of issue #9 and this issue seems to confirm that.  I wonder where Slott is going to go with it.

A corollary to Otto not feeling bound to protecting innocent lives is that Otto's over-confidence is leading him down this road.  This issue, we see Otto exult after manipulating Smythe into leaving the scene by expositing ("like a Bond villain") that he relied on the generators to power his devices.  Otto knew that the Raft had back-up generators, so he was really just trying to distract Smythe.  However clever Otto might have been here, it seems a sign that Otto is once again being blinded by his over-confidence.  He manages to pull of his plan regardless here, but it's not hard to see that he won't always be able to do so.  After all, Otto clearly believes that he can kill Massacre and the Spider-Slayer and still have the support of New Yorkers.  But, will he continue to have that support if innocent people get sacrificed along the way?  If Peter's memories are no longer providing him with a moral compass or a realistic assessment of his actual abilities, this blind-spot could push Otto into areas that undermine the public's support and lead him further and further into a publicly perceived villain category.

Finally, and perhaps more importantly, we see JJJ, Jr. poised for some level of come-uppance.  Ever since he ordered the police chief to take out Massacre in "Amazing Spider-Man" #656, JJJ, Jr. has made it clear that he viewed the law as only a guide.  Assuming that Spidey recorded JJJ, Jr. ordering him to kill the Spider-Slayer and that said record will be revealed to the public at some point, JJJ, Jr. seems to have finally passed the point-of-no-return.

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