by Dan Slott, Christos Gage (Writers), Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba (Artists), Edgar Delgado (Colorist)

The Story: Otto presents and open his company to others, as Flash Thompson tries to bust a new Crime-Master, only to end up meeting Spider-Ock.

The Review: With a new big arc and the return of Christos Gage, Superior Spider-Man returns to big events as both writers mesh up the slow-building situations with the more present situations. The last time both writers were on was the arc in which Otto was in the raft, fighting against Alistair Smythe and other villains, which was an enjoyable ride. However, does both writers continue the life-building and the fun that is generally attached to the concept of Otto Octavius as Peter Parker?

They do in many ways, although this issue is a bit plagued by some smaller problems that do annoy. The way they balance things out and play with many of the tropes of the Spider-Man mythos, with Venom this time being the object of focus, is rather interesting, yet a bit flawed.

What this issue does right is pushing forward some of the developing threads of Otto’s life, with the debut of Parker Industries being the focus of a couple of pages. The way Otto acts as the boss of his own company is rather humorous, with his villain speech near the beginning being a highlight. There are also several other subplots that are either teased or evolving here, with J. Jonah Jameson and Wraith receiving just enough panels to be relevant without eating too much space in the book.

The pacing here is actually pretty good, with each scenes getting their point across not too slowly or too fast, but with close to every line of dialogue being either true to character or with just a touch of exposition. Most of these scenes are rather well-handled script-wise, which makes the characters mostly enjoyable and true to their root.

I do say close to every line, as one of the flaw here is Venom. While it is easy to appreciate the fact that Slott and Gage are trying to bring readers up to speed on who Flash Thompson is, due to the fact that not everybody did read Venom and Secret Avengers by Rick Remender, his lines of dialogues comes as rather forced most of the time. Going as far as putting a lot of narration to explain his current situation, a lot of what Flash Thompson says is actually useful information, but it comes at the cost of credibility and the general enjoyment of the issue as a result.

Of course, this is also due to the fact that this is, after all, the very first part of a three-parter, which has the task of bringing several elements to the forefront in order to put them in the right place. For the most part and to their credit, both Gage and Slott manage to make close to everything smooth without delving too much into familiar territory, adding some new elements or juggling with some that aren’t always covered. The appearance of Cardiac, the spiderlings and the reminder that Otto collaborates with the police is actually a nice touch, as it does bring several elements up in a way that is well-presented.

Of course, the presentation in this issue would be nothing without Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba, who brings their hyperbolized and cartoonish sensibilities to this issue. The dynamic panelling here provide a good sense of motion, making the few amount of action rather impressive, while making it so the scenes with a bit more dialogue and interactions between characters a good deal better to look thanks to a good visual flow. Something that also help the issue is the exaggerated expressions on the characters face. While it is not subtle by any mean, it does help with the narrative flow between each panels, as it make the expressions of the character concise and clear despite how big and sometime cartoonish they are. The poses alongside many other details are also affected by this style, putting an emphasis on being flashy rather than meticulous, which works in most cases, like with Venom and his gooey symbiote suit. Ramos may not be for everyone, but he is really well-suited to this book overall, which makes the world of Spider-Man come alive really well.

Part of this is also due to Edgar Delgado, who really comes forth with flashy colors and a lot of use for bright and dark contrasts in the page. Dealing in rather big and obvious contrasts, Delgado plays well with Ramos and Olazaba, as the Venom scenes are suitably darker in tones, while those featuring Otto and Aunt May are much more bright, with a lot of emphasis on white to better focus on the faces and other elements that readers are supposed to focus on. There is a lot of diversity in the colors and the scenes, which helps each of them have an identity and a purpose of its own as well as dividing the book concisely. It’s big, but also effective coloring from Delgado.

The Conclusion: There may be a few problems with the dialogue and exposition here and there, yet the handling of several subplots and fun elements of this shift in the Spider-Man mythos along with the bombastic art and colors of Ramos, Olazaba and Delgado makes this an enjoyable issue nonetheless.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière