The Superior Spider-Man arc is perhaps one of the biggest shake-ups to happen in the Spider-Man comics in recent memory. As we’re sure most of you are aware, the story revolved around the dying Doctor Octopus switching minds with Peter Parker, leaving Peter to die in Otto’s decaying form. Peter went to the great web in the sky, and Octavius was left behind the controls of his spider-body and all its superpowered perks and privileges.
The storyline was divisive amongst fans at the time, and while the general consensus on the series is pretty positive these days, there are still some who see it as a silly gimmick. However, even the critics have to concede that it was at least a break from the status quo. Love it or hate it, the series managed to cover some interesting ground during its run, resulting in some curious facts. Here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Superior Spider-Man.
15. Writer Dan Slott “accidentally” tweeted out some fake spoilers before release
Longtime Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has a bit of a reputation for messing with Spidey fans. Perhaps his biggest troll came prior to the reveal of the Superior Spider-Man. He tweeted artist Ryan Stegman ostensibly talking shop about the new issue and dropped a familiar name – that of popular Spider-Man 2099 Miguel O’Hara. The tweet was deleted soon after, lending credibility to the idea that it was a genuine mistake. The online comic book community being what it is, soon, the news was everywhere and fans were excitedly talking about Miguel’s triumphant return.
However, this turned out to be a ruse. Doctor Octopus was revealed to be the new Spidey and many fans felt misled by the whole situation. Dan Slott eventually apologized for the whole debacle and made promises that Miguel O’Hara would end up in the series, albeit not as the main Spider-Man. Slott made good on his word, but some fans were still left disappointed after the promise of a new story centering on one of the most underrated Spider-Men to ever wear the tights.
14. Spider-Ock killed and brutalized villains
The whole idea behind Superior Spider-Man was to establish how morally mixed-up Doc Ock was in the superhero hotseat when compared to the altruistic Peter Parker. Spider-Ock (sometimes referred to by fans as SpOck) had none of the qualms that Peter did when it came to dealing with villains, and he soon established himself as a completely different entity.
Let’s have a quick look at his rap sheet. He executes the villain Massacre in Superior Spider-Man #5. He sucker-punches Black Cat in issue #20. In Superior Spider-Man #6 , he mercilessly pummels low-level crooks The Jester and Screwball with way more force than required. He punches the Scorpion’s jaw clean off in Amazing Spider-Man #700, and he takes down the Vulture in Superior Spider-Man #3, sending him careening into the Spider-Signal spotlight, leaving Adrian Toomes blind, burnt, and cut to shreds. Worst of all, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson starts becoming a big fan of this newer, edgier Spidey. You know you’ve messed up when Ol’ Flattop starts singing your praises.
13. He made Peter Parker a doctor
One of the lasting changes from Ock’s stint in tights was the fact that Peter Parker became Dr. Peter Parker. This all came about after a lab argument with Peter’s coworkers after they catch him working on an unapproved project. Ock states that he’s a doctor and should be above such questioning. His colleagues rightly state that he doesn’t have the required doctorate, and Otto is incensed by it.
Ock wastes little time in getting his PhD, purely so he can lord his fancy title over everyone. It’s a great insight into Octavius’ mind and shows how much pride and self-worth Otto has wrapped up in his title. Once he’s a legitimate doctor, he starts building a scientific empire that would make him (and later, the actual Peter Parker) a multi-billionaire. It pays to stay in school, kids.
12. The storyline introduced fan-favorite character Anna Maria Marconi
When Otto first transferred to Peter’s body, he became hung up on trying to rekindle Parker’s relationship with Mary Jane Watson. After a few false starts, Otto realizes that the whole situation interferes with his “heroics” and does something Peter never managed to do – definitively ends things with MJ and draws a line under everything that’s come before.
Despite being a crazed genius, Otto is still as human as the rest of us, and he soon starts up a relationship with his tutor, a woman by the name of Anna Maria Marconi. Anna is a little person, but at no point does that seem to matter to Octavius. Aside from being sweet and caring, Anna Maria has a sharp scientific mind and is attracted to “Peter’s” intelligence. When the real Peter returns, he tells her the whole truth, and Anna Maria takes the devastating news that the man she lives with is no longer the man she fell in love with.. surprisingly well. Peter offers her a permanent gig at Parker Industries and she became his confidante, often covering for him when heroic duty called. Marconi soon became a popular addition to the Spider-Man canon, and she stands as a great example of diversity done right in comics.
11. He reprogrammed one of Spider-Man’s oldest villains, The Living Brain, to be his lab assistant
Whilst the Living Brain may not have the name recognition of the Green Goblin, Vulture, or indeed, Doctor Octopus, it has been around since Spider-Man’s earliest adventures, debuting in Amazing Spider-Man #8 way back in 1964. The Living Brain was a learning computer that goes rogue after a malfunction. It’s never been a particularly large threat for Peter to deal with, but it has proved to be surprisingly resilient, outlasting many other villains of the week and making several glorified cameos in Spidey stories ever since.
That was until SpOck got his hands on it. Octavius single-handedly defeats the Sinister Six and takes the Living Brain with him as a trophy. He reprograms the poor ‘bot to do his bidding, helping him out in the lab and serving drinks to guests. It isn’t enough for Otto to simply win, he needs to completely dominate his enemies to fuel his superiority complex.
10. His mechanical spider-arms were strong enough to lift a car
Superior Spider-Man was a very Doctor Octopus take on the web-slinger. Otto took all that he’d learned from years of being a supervillain and adapted it to fit his new role as the protector of the innocent. Spider-Man’s eye lenses were modified to resemble Ock’s signature goggles, his Ockbots became Spider-Bots and, for the second version of the suit, he crafted himself a mechanical arm harness that was like a mash-up of the Iron Spider suit and his own tentacle rig.
The arms certainly made Superior Spider-Man look more intimidating, but they were impressive in their own right. SpOck is seen lifting a car with little effort in Superior Spider-Man #18 during his fight with Miguel O’Hara. When Peter returned, he souped up the rig to take on the villain Itsy Bitsy, modifying them to shoot lasers capable of destroying things at an atomic level. After the battle was over, Peter ditched the arms and went back to a more classic, traditional look.
9. The suit has featured in a ton of video games
Part of the fun of playing Spider-Man in his numerous video game incarnations is unlocking new costumes to web-sling around in. It’s practically the law that the symbiote suit be included, but the badass Superior Spider-Man suit has also made its way into the gaming sphere multiple times. In the first Lego Marvel Super Heroes game, the Superior Spider-Man character is your reward for jumping off the Empire State Building and falling through several rings. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game, the Superior Spidey suit (without the extra arms, unfortunately) is unlocked when you beat all the game’s combat challenges.
By far the most interesting take on the idea is to be found in MMORPG Marvel Heroes, which has two versions of the suit. The first is a simple change of clothing, but the second “enhanced” suit features the voice of Christopher Daniel Barnes, known to Spidey fans as the voice of Peter Parker in the well-regarded ’90s animated series. Considering that many older web-heads grew up with CBD’s vocal stylings, it’s a nice nod to the character’s history and a hit of pure nostalgia for many. Here’s hoping the suit makes an appearance in Insomniac Games’ awesome looking Spider-Man PS4 title.
8. Spider-Verse was originally intended to be a Superior Spider-Man story
Marvel’s big Spider-Verse crossover brought in nearly every conceivable Spider-Man that has existed and threw them together in one big event. The basic story involved double-tough Spidey villain Morlun and his family hopping through universes and going on a spider feeding frenzy, offing costumed heroes left and right. The writing was on the wall for all the Spider-heroes, and even obscure versions like Hostess advertisement Spider-Man couldn’t escape Morlun’s malevolent clutches.
Spider-Verse was pretty well received by the fans, but interestingly, the whole thing was meant to be a Superior Spider-Man story. While Superior Spidey played a key role in the arc (and added to his body count by killing Morlun’s brother Daemos), it wasn’t centered around him. Apparently, Marvel’s editorial team loved the idea, but weren’t so keen on having Otto Octavius being the hero of the piece, and so the story was tweaked so as to focus on the various teams of Spider-heroes rather than zeroing in on the murderous, coldly logical Superior Spider-Man.
7. Otto has a soft spot for kids due to a traumatic childhood
In perhaps one of the most revealing passages in the Superior Spider-Man arc, SpOck goes after the Vulture. Adrian Toomes sics his diminutive flying Vulturelings on Spidey and they grapple. Spidey attacks with his usual gusto but is stopped in his tracks when a henchman’s mask slips, revealing him and his winged brethren to be children.
Otto flashes back to his own childhood and his physically abusive father. He furiously questions Toomes, and his unrepentant answers sends him into a blind fury. He ends up giving Vulture one of the biggest beatdowns of his life, leaving him a broken and burnt mess after putting him through a massive searchlight. Despite his brutal attack on Vulture, this was one of the first signs that Otto’s heart was in the right place, even if his methods left a lot to be desired. It crucially humanized Octavius and tinged his plight with a sense of tragedy that made him a complicated and compelling lead character.
6. He tried out a new catchphrase – “The die is cast!”
Whereas Peter Parker has a quip for almost every occasion, Otto Octavius doesn’t really do jokes or one-liners. However, when he became the Superior Spider-Man, he felt compelled to give it a try. He soon settled on “The die is cast!” as his signature pre ass-kicking proclamation.
It was never going to challenge something like “It’s clobberin’ time!” in terms of fame, but the phrase perfectly sums up who Ock is and what an ill fit the whole Spider-Man gig is for him. It also neatly encapsulates his personality and approach to the role. The quote is originally attributed to Julius Caesar, so it makes perfect sense that Otto would think it was cool. Its meaning — being past the point of no return– also ties into his black and white viewpoint on crime and villainy. Once you cross the line, Otto will make you pay. It may not have stuck, but there’s something great about Octavius trying to make the catchphrase his own.
5. He genuinely improved several people’s lives
It’d have been easy to just paint Doc Ock as a straight-up villain when he became Spider-Man, but as the whole “villain poses as a hero” story has been done approximately a billion times in comic books, something was required to give SpOck a bit of pathos. Instead of becoming a simple bad guy in a hero suit, Ock seemed to have a genuine desire to help people.
Early issues of the Superior Spider-Man had Peter coming back like a ghost, observing Ock’s actions and being powerless to stop him. Otto soon cottons onto Peter’s presence and starts working on a way to isolate the Parker consciousness. However, the device he needs is in the possession of Cardiac, who is using it to keep a young child named Amy Chen alive. Partly due to his soft spot for kids and partly because he’s responsible for her condition, SpOck ends up operating on the girl and preventing major brain damage. During his time, Otto also purged Carlie Cooper of the Goblin Serum and invented a device to help Aunt May walk again. If you look past all the murder, crime, and brutality, he’s actually kind of sweet.
4. Dan Slott received death threats over Amazing Spider-Man #700
As many of you will be painfully aware, comic book fans can be a passionate bunch. If a writer or an artist does something that’s seen as “wrong”, they’re undoubtedly going to hear about it from the very vocal minority. This was the case when the actual reveal from Amazing Spider-Man #700 was leaked online a couple of weeks before release. Faced with the knowledge that Peter Parker was going to die and be replaced with Doctor Octopus, several fans became furious and started sending death threats to Dan Slott, convinced that he’d ruined Spidey’s legacy.
One of the best things about fanbases is their passion, but it’s a double-edged sword. No-one in their right mind should be sending death threats to anybody, but to do it over something like a story twist in a long-running superhero series seems completely absurd. You’d think that comic book fans would know that no matter how different things get, everything usually returns to normal eventually.
3. The storyline is referenced in the Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors animated series
In the third season of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, Spidey becomes a proper card-carrying Avenger and eagerly joins the team. However, in the episode “The Avenging Spider-Man Part 1”, the trickster god Loki finds a way to switch bodies with Spider-Man. Loki then sets about trying to dismantle the Avengers from within, starting by turning them against their new recruit.
Loki teams up with Doctor Octopus, and the pair conspire to end Earth’s Mightiest Heroes once and for all. When Loki reveals his grand plan to Octavius, Otto (rather unsurprisingly) is a huge fan of the idea and makes sure to note it down for future use. This is an obvious, but undeniably neat, reference to the Dying Wish story and the Superior Spider-Man arc in general. While the Ultimate Spider-Man audience skewed young, it’s cool that the creators put in a throwaway reference for the older superfans in there as well.
2. Dan Slott only told two people outside of Marvel that Peter would return before the series ended
Here’s the thing about Superior Spider-Man. Marvel hyped it up as the definitive end for Peter Parker. Fans were told that Peter wasn’t going to come back and that SpOck was here to stay. Of course, this wasn’t actually the case. There were already plans in place to bring Peter back in time for the Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie’s release, but it was a closely-guarded secret.
Dan Slott has gone on record as saying that he found it tough to lie to people at conventions. In one interview, he admits he came close to spilling the beans, especially at one signing in New Jersey – “There was one sad little moppet in a little league uniform with a quivering lip who asked if Peter was dead, and I told him ‘sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes the hero doesn’t always win. I’m sorry.’” However, he did break his oath twice. Once for co-creator and all-around legend Stan Lee, and once for cinematic Spidey Andrew Garfield. We hope the kid wasn’t too traumatized by the ordeal.
1. The suit’s design was inspired by some unused concept art from the first Spider-Man movie
The story itself may remain somewhat divisive, but it’s pretty much agreed that the Superior Spider-Man suit is badass. It takes the familiar iconic design and twists it into something new, going with a striking red and black motif and cool polarizing lenses.
Weirdly, the inspiration for it comes from some unused Alex Ross concept art that was commissioned for Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. Apparently, Ross’ suit design very nearly made it to the final film, but it was scrapped at the last minute in favor of a more traditional take on the Spider-Man outfit. Ross also did some stunning Green Goblin concepts, but for some reason, Raimi decided on the Power Rangers look for his big bad instead. That being said, at least Ross’ Spidey art got a shout-out from the Superior Spider-Man team and is now part of the wall-crawler’s ever-expanding wardrobe. It’s now become emblematic of that time when Doctor Octopus took Peter’s body for a joyride.
What else should diehard web-slinger fans know about the Superior Spider-Man? Let us know in the comments.
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