Know what I dislike more than Marvel’s habit of double shipping? When they dispense with the week grace period for whatever reason and just release issues one after the other. Such is the case with SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3, which has your unfriendly neighborhood Ottoman fighting Spiderman’s old enemy and his own old ally, the Vulture. How will the two evil masterminds handle the altered nature of their relationship?
This issue opens in one of the funnier moments in the Spiderman books I’ve seen all year. It’s a straight up parody/deconstruction of the Bat-signal. I’m not even joking, this actually happens. It’s like they wanted to put the (admittedly outmoded) idea of the city authorities lighting up the sky to call their champion to rights.
It’s a cheap shot, but sometimes those are the most satisfying.
Anyway, SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3 pits Spiderman as played by Doc Ock against the very first recurring baddie introduced in Amazing Spiderman…The Fantastic Four! Okay not really, though they were the first people Spiderman fought back in ASM #1. In ASM #2, he fought the Vulture, and it’s him his replacement Ottoman has to fight.
Getting people up to speed, the Vulture is the oldest recurring Spiderman villain, both in the sense he was introduced earliest and in the sense that he’s an old man. Adrian Toomes was a scientist who developed a wearable rig that allowed him to defy gravity. He dressed himself up as, of course, a buzzard, and used it to commit crimes. Usually larceny, as stated in flashbacks in this issue. He’s kind of like the Flash’s Rogues, interested in the score over any kind of sweeping control. But as we see here, his desire for phat loot is rivaled by his desire to see the webbed wallcrawler dead, or at least so long as he’s in his way.
I mentioned flashbacks, and these go a long way to give readers an insight into the kind of relationship the Vulture and Doc Ock had in the early days of the Sinister Six. These flashbacks also cover, albeit briefly, Otto Octavius’ relationship with his abusive father. This last bit, by the way, factors heavily into how the encounter between these two mad scientists ends.
It’s worth noting that, despite the Vulture being probably in his eighties, he’s a force to be reckoned with. There’s a reason he’s among Spiderman’s staple of villains, and it’s not all seniority. The Vulture can choke a man if he needs to. I kinda want to see a sequel film of Amazing Spiderman where he fights the Vulture, and Peter gets all cocky about fighting an octogenarian, only for him to lift him by the neck and drop him from a thousand feet in the air. That would be cool.
One last element that I haven’t discussed is Carlie Cooper, Peter Parker’s ex-girlfriend from immediately after his infamous deal with Mephisto. When Peter and Mary Jane were forcibly separated by means of retroactive continuity, Carlie Cooper (who by the way was named after Joe Quesada’s daughter; fun times) was introduced in a vain attempt to get readers over Mary Jane. The Spidey books described her as being the perfect woman for Peter, his ideal love interest. As you can imagine, fans already sore from the betrayal of One More Day hated Carlie Cooper. More than fans of Hal Jordan hated Kyle Rayner, more than fans of old school Doctor Fate hated that terrible (and rightly short-lived) series with the replacement Fate as a muscle-bound knife-wielding generic nineties anti-hero, the fans of Spidey hated Carlie Cooper. Probably still do.
Personally I came into Amazing Spider-Man more recently, after the entire Peter/Carlie romance was buried by Dan Slott. As such, I harbor no vitriol for her. She’s acted more as a curious side character who rarely gets involved in the plot unless she needs to conspire with Mary Jane, the two being love interests who know Spiderman’s identity.
That being said, she’s been far more important now since Otto took over Spiderman’s identity. This is because, during ASM #700, Peter Parker tried to get Carlie to believe him when he was in Doc Ock’s dying body. At the time, she shrugged it off as being the villain trying to mess with her head (which could have worked, given how often people swap minds in the Marvel universe). Now, seeing the Peter Parker she knew and loved acting uncharacteristically, she’s started to have doubts. Serious doubts. Enough doubts to be the subject of future storylines.
So if you don’t like Carlie Cooper, if you’re one of those fans who resented One More Day yet stayed with the title after all this, then unfortunately we’ll be seeing much more of her. Sorry.