Otto Octavius has been through quite a bit since he set up shop in San Francisco. He’s saved the city from a former herald of Galactus, a demonic monster, and the War of the Realms. It’s no surprise that the Mayor wants to honor him with the key to the city. With all this praise that Otto has long felt he deserves, why does he feel so angry and doubtful?
I will never get tired of this journey of an evil man learning how to be good. That’s the core of Superior Spider-Man and writer Christos Gage delivers this so very well. This is what makes Otto such an interesting characters. Yes, he can be annoying at times because of how arrogant and condescending he can be, but that masks the inner struggle he’s constantly going through. Every moment is a fight against himself as his baser instincts push him to do the worst while he’s trying so hard to be on the side of the angels.
The mask and tights side is just part of Otto’s fascinating transformation. He’s not only learning how to be a better hero; he’s also learning how to be a better man. We see this in his relationship with Anna Maria and Emma. Both women care for him, despite the pain he’s caused. They see the potential he has to be great if he can keep his ego in check and stay out of his own way.
Advice as to how to deal with all this comes from Peter Parker, who swings into town to check in on the superior one. Artist Mike Hawthorne creates a nice contrast between the two heroes, despite their similar costumes and abilities. Peter is cool and confident as he’s been doing this far longer and has come to terms with all the crazy things he’s needed to do during his time as Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Otto is still out to prove himself, so he carries himself differently. He stands and swings with a stark determination, constantly trying to show the world he’s better than everyone.
The story builds to an emotional outburst which Hawthorne absolutely nails. You can feel the pressure that’s been steadily rising within Otto until he lets it all out. He’s never had to deal with these kind of feelings before. He’s learning how to put others before himself and that comes with a whole new set of emotions that are shaking him to the core. Inker Wade von Grawbadger highlights the shadows on Otto’s face to bring out the feelings of dread coursing through him.
Colorist Jordie Bellaire shows Otto in a bright light, despite this inner turmoil. It shows the good he’s doing for the city even though he’s having a hard time with his inability to save everyone. Otto is operating in the daylight instead of scheming away in the shadows, which is still taking some time for him to adjust.
Otto’s anger bubbles up in the midst of a fight with the obscure and hilarious villain, Turner D. Century. He lets loose on this poor, goofy-looking man with clenched fists full of rage. Letterer Clayton Cowles steadily builds this tone into bigger and bolder word balloons, adding to the intensity of Otto’s actions.
The cover for Superior Spider-Man spills the beans on the cliffhanger ending, bringing back two of the breakout stars of Spider-Geddon, Norman Osborn and Spiders-Man. If there’s anyone that could become a perfect nemesis for Otto, it’s the six-armed version of Norman from another world. I cannot wait to see how these two interact.