It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a Superior Spider-Man book, I didn’t know how much I missed it until I got the opportunity to review this Annual.
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1
Written by CHRISTOS GAGE
Art by JAVIER RODRIGUEZ
Cover by J.G JONES
I have to admit I do get some subtle enjoyment out of this. It seems like every time a new story comes along in the Superior Spider-Man series you have a group of people being happy that the series is coming to an end and Peter Parker is coming back. But it never happens. All we actually get is more and more evidence that the Superior Spider-Man is going to be around for a while because, well, it’s actually very good.
But this isn’t about the main series or any of the main series or any of the other books in the Superior family, this is about an Annual that comes real close to capturing what made the Annuals from years ago unique. While this Annual lacks the traditional bios, technical specs, and pin-ups it does have a story that wouldn’t have fit in the regular series so we end up with this Annual. It feels more like an Annual than many of the Annuals from recent years.
What made this book a must read for me was this part of the original solicit: “This ain’t no regular Annual, buck-o! This one counts!” While seeing former Ghost Rider villain Blackout was a selling point as well it was this solicit that made me even more eager to see this book and while these things normally don’t mean anything, this time it does.
The story focuses on Blackout wanting to re-establish himself as a killer after having fallen on bad times. He figures the best way to regain his rep would be to kill the Amazing Spider-Man. He tracks down Aunt May and her husband Jay Jameson and kidnaps the poor woman. While the plan would have possibly worked the one thing he didn’t figure on is the Amazing Spider-Man is dead. He just crossed the line with the Superior Spider-Man and he doesn’t take these things lightly. After gathering some information on Blackout from Dan Ketch, former host of the Ghost Rider, he uses his skills to track down the monster.
This is the part of ‘this one counts’ comes in. After tracking down Blackout and freeing May he begins to put into motion a plan that will protect his (or Peter’s) friends and family. He makes an example of Blackout and does things to him that goes a little further than when Ghost Rider left him tied up outside before sunrise. While Spider-Man does use sun lamps on the guy whose skin is sensitive to sunlight, he also tries his hand at dentistry. He then tells Blackout that he isn’t going to actually kill him but he wants Blackout to deliver a message to every crook, thug, and villain that Peter Parker and everyone he knows is totally off-limits. If anyone Parker knows is hurt or annoyed in any way the Spider-Man is going to come down on the criminals. Hard.
This is going to change some things in Superior Spider-Man because many of the street level villains are already afraid of the Wall-Crawler but now everyone knows that Spider-Man means business. It’s going to make the inevitable confrontation with the new Green Goblin, aka the Goblin King, very interesting.
This was a very entertaining read. Cage knocks it out of the park and makes Spider-Man even more intimidating and threatening than he has been in the main title. He takes the concept of being a hero and protecting his loved ones to a level we’ve not seen before. This isn’t simple intimidation and threats on a Batman level. He doesn’t stare down Blackout, he tortures him and mutilates him then lets him go to prove a point. This makes the Superior Spider-Man not only better than the Amazing Spider-Man but also more intimidating that Batman. A lofty statement, I know, but I have never seen the Dark Knight cross the line like this.
While Cage’s script was amazing and dark, Javier Rodriguez certainly shows that he belongs in the Superior Spider-Man artist pool. I hope we see more of his work in the future on any of the Superior titles. I should also mention the amazing cover by JG Jones. I absolutely loved it!
Man, I really can’t express how good this book was without repeating it over and over again. This is how Annuals should be, previous ones have just felt like expanded issues and didn’t have much impact on the main title, if any. This one will have a major impact on the world of Spider-Man and I for one cannot wait to see the full impact of the events from this book.
I recommend it. Highly.