by Dan Slott (Writer), Humberto Ramos, Javier Rodriguez, Marcos Martin, Victor Olazaba (Artists), Edgar Delgado (Colorist)

The Story: As the war against goblins rages on, the Avengers starts to question just what exactly is Spider-Man doing.

The Review
: Receiving an even experience is always something that readers are looking for. A stable issue in terms of quality can certainly be appreciated more than one that delivers good and bad in rather visible and obvious ways. It makes for more memorable issues in terms of general appreciation, but it can certainly be enjoyable to have an issue where everything is good. Not necessarily excellent, but good.

Thankfully, while it has one or two minor problems, this issue of Superior Spider-Man does deliver such an issue, with a lot of elements moving forward. Delivering a rather fast-paced and well-divided issue, Dan Slott does some pretty good thing with this issue in the saga of this title.

The first element handled, perhaps one of the less-interesting though decidedly not boring one, is the conflict against the Hobgoblin and the Goblin King. The stakes between the two and their goons is big, making for something rather interesting, yet it’s not the action that makes this interesting. As non-descriptive and rather secondary as the battle feel between the two, it’s really how the characters interacts and what they say that makes this a rather huge advance to the story. The way they bicker, they argument and they guess exactly who and what the other is makes for a rather neat scene.

The second one, perhaps better in terms of characterization and general impact is the one actually featuring Otto Octavius. Presenting how he deals with things, Slott presents another take on one of the more infamous scene in the series, with the Avengers starting to question just why he did some of his previous actions and why he’s starting to act so differently. It’s a rather good scene, one that showcase the logical, but prideful attitude of Otto, cementing his take on the character and how he envisions the Avengers. It’s not the focus of this issue, yet it does allow for the seeds of Otto’s downfall to be set up effectively.

Perhaps one of the better scene, though the shortest one as well, is the one focusing on Peter Parker. Advancing the small idea that he is still present in Otto’s mind, Dan Slott shows a great understanding of the character in a few pages, presenting one of the greater qualities of Peter. Almost done as a certain counter-argument to issue #9, the core of what made readers connect to the character is indeed intact and on display here, making for some brilliant pages.

While, however, all those scenes are rather effective, the downfall of this issue, in a sense, is the fact that they don’t have a lot to do with each other. Each advance their subplots and threads in a consequent manner, bringing one or two surprises along the way, yet it does not make for a cohesive whole.

The same could be said for the art, as many are in charge of the issue, with pencils and inks being done by a small army. Humberto Ramos, with Victor Olazaba, is in charge of the goblins scene, showing the hyperbole and the madness behind the characters rather brilliantly. The acrobatics, the agility and the dementia behind the action is rather expressive, as well as the way the panels are layered-out. However, the fluidity of the storytelling is a bit sketchy, with the action being rather non-important in the schemes of things in these pages, making the talent of Ramos not that well-used.

Javier Rodriguez, all the while, does the scene with the Avengers and Spider-Ock, presenting a good and fluid progression of events. The way his backgrounds and his sense of depth works for the right mood is pretty nice, as well as the way the low amount of action is portrayed. Where he loses a few points, though, is with how stoic some of his characters look. There is a certain lack of natural motion and energy in his pages, with the faces of the characters being almost lifeless, as if not caring at all about what was happening around them. It’s pretty in a general sense, but it’s certainly not the best around.

Marcos Martin, however, is superb. His use of minimalism in terms of details and his focus on Peter Parker and his reactions makes for some rather expressive storytelling. Making the depth, low composition and lack of numerous details work for him, Martin is able to pinpoint the exact tone and what is important down to its essentials, making those pages of his rather striking. His characters are expressive, either through minor details like a few twitch in their faces or with their poses, making the desired effect from the script very strong here.

The colorization, like the rest of the issue, follows pretty much the same guideline. Individually, the colors of Marcos Martin, Edgar Delgado and Javier Rodriguez are very expressive, with just the right touch of shadows, light, minimalism and diversity, yet they don’t really work all that well together. The explosive and highly contrasting work of Edgar Delgado for the goblins scenes is really well done, playing with shadows and character designs to pinpoint obvious contrasts effectively, yet the focalization on a very low amount of colors of Marcos Martin makes the work of Delgado a bit odd in terms of cohesion. The same goes for Rodriguez, who uses a rather rich selection of simpler colors neatly, playing lightly with shading and light effects in a way that is not overwhelming to the readers. All good work, but once again not participating very well in the whole that is this issue.

The Conclusion: As a whole, this should not work very well, yet the number of interesting developments, the skills of each artists and colorists and the rather good characterization on display makes for something that is somewhat better than it should be. Not quite the best of this series, but far from the worst by a large margin.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière