Thursday, November 14, 2013

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #4 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I've written this review twice.  In the first review, I expressed confusion over Rodi's portrayal of Otto-Spidey. To me, he felt more like the Otto-Spidey that Slott delivered in the first few months of "Superior Spider-Man," still motivated to be a hero.  However, in those issues, he was motivated by Peter's consciousness and history.  Since Otto eradicated both from his mind, I've struggled to understand why he's been doing what he's doing as a superhero.  However, Rodi provides an answer.  My "confusion" came from the gap between Slott not caring about Otto's motivations and Rodi providing a clear sense of them.

First, Rodi reminds us that Otto is motivated by the firm belief that he can be the greatest superhero of all time.  Slott also makes that argument, though I've never felt like it was enough to justify Otto not returning to a life of crime.  Slott lately seems to be arguing that Otto interprets "greatest superhero of all time" as "most powerful superhero of all time.  You need look no further than Spidey's assault on Shadowland.  It was all about Otto strutting his stuff and proving to the people of New York that he could take down the Kingpin.  Rodi doesn't dispute that power plays into Otto's motivations, but he focuses more on the competitive nature of the goal.  Rodi has Otto taking umbrage at Luke Cage not only implying that Spectrum should take care of Fulmina, but also that Otto created the problem in the first place.  This motivation rings more true to me.  In Slott's version, it's not hard to see Otto becoming so obsessed with power that he'd slide right into becoming a villain.  Rodi's take seems to put a check on that happening, since you can't "win" the competition if you resume being a super-villain.

However, it's still not enough to convince me that Otto wants to be a superhero.  It's here where Rodi provides a motivation that Slott lost once Otto ditches Peter's conscience and history.  Rodi reminds us that Otto isn't just motivated by competition, but also the approval from the people that he saves.  Slott has only explored this emotional motivation in a limited way, mostly in Otto striking against bullies that remind him of his father.  But, Rodi goes beyond that, showing that the adoration that Spider-Man receives when he does things like fixing the generator at a hospital motivates Otto.  It's a motivation completely lacking in Slott's Octo-Spidey, explaining why his actions feel so emotionally hollow.  It's why I increasingly don't buy Otto as Spidey in "Superior Spider-Man."  But, combining this theme of competition and power with the need for approval, Rodi delivers the most convincing reason why Otto hasn't started robbing banks.  Now, I just have to hope that Slott read this arc.

In the art department, Del Mundo really excels in this issue, showing a fluidity of form that fits both Fulmina and Spidey.

Despite disliking the first issue of this two-parter, I find myself hoping that both Rodi and Del Mundo stay on this title or appear somewhere else in the Spideyverse.

**** (four of five stars)

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