When writer Dan Slott kicked off Marvel Comics’ “Superior Spider-Man” series, the consciousness of Spidey’s arch-enemy Otto Octavius occupied Peter Parker’s body. Otto had a genuine desire to be a hero, but in his own egotistical way, experiencing his biggest success when attacking crime with the same ruthless tactics and planning he used in his career as the villain mastermind Doctor Octopus.
As his success grew and his methods became more ferocious, The Superior Spider-Man found himself opposed by the clinging bits of Peter Parker remaining in his mind. A mental battle ensued and those last vestiges of Parker were excised. Now Otto is finally free to try crime fighting his own way, and on the final page of “Superior Spider-Man” #13 readers saw him getting ready to do just that. CBR News spoke with Slott about his protagonist’s new modus operandi for fighting crime and his new costume design by “Superior” artist Humberto Ramos.
CBR News: Dan, at the end of “Superior Spider-Man” #13 we saw Otto’s brand of crime fighting heading in a new direction — what can you tell us about his current state of mind?
Dan Slott: This is the story I’ve been waiting to tell. This is what happens when Doc Ock tries to be Spider-Man. When we first started the book there was this feeling, especially on the part of Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso, of how do you do a Spider-Man book without Peter Parker? He felt there had to be a piece of Peter floating around, which gave birth to the idea of the “ghost” — and to the idea of the ghost eventually going away.
It acted like a Peter Parker nicotine patch, allowing people who were really freaking out about the end of “Amazing Spider-Man” #700 to kind of go, “Ahhhh, Peter.”
Once we had the story in issue #9 where Doc Ock expels every last ounce of Peter Parker out of him and is free to be his own man, he’s immediately caught up in this adventure on the Raft in the “No Escape” arc Christos Gage and I wrote, running through issues #10-13. That adventure is now over. It really is a time for him to reassess his idea of how he’s going to be a Superior Spider-Man.
There’s something really exciting and energetic about that. The emergency brake is off.
At the end of issue #13 we saw Otto working in his new headquarters, which he dubbed Spider-Island II. You hinted this work might involve robots and even recruiting minions — plus a new costume. What can you tell us about the Humberto Ramos design of Spidey’s new digs?
He based it on a number of things. I heard Humberto talk about an Alex Ross inspired design. There were other ideas he really wanted to incorporate into it as well.
I like the black lenses. They’re creepy, making him seem more alien — it’s like, “Who knows what he’s going to do?” Humberto also liked the idea of showing he was symbolically askew by doing imperfect webbing all over the costume. There are all kinds of neat elements to the look, and of course it has the one thing everybody was waiting for — four mechanical arms. [Laughs]
Those arms suggest this costume is more than just a way for Otto to protect his identity. Are they also weapons and a way to defend himself?
Yeah, it has Iron Spider-like arms, but now there are four of them. They very much look resemble mechanical spider arms that Spider-Man himself has used in the past and not like octopus limbs.
When we saw Ben Reilly originally show up as the Scarlet Spider, he had all these ideas and concepts that he added to the mix. Things like impact webbing, which left Peter wondering, “Why didn’t I ever up my game? Why didn’t I ever expand my arsenal?” If you’re Doc Ock you’re going to say, “Let’s look at this anew. Let’s build a Spider-Man suit that I’d want.”
What can it do? How does it work? You’ll have to wait and see.
Let’s talk about the story that begins in “Superior Spider-Man” #14. Can you give us a taste of what we’ll see in that issue?
Yeah, the Peter Parker Spider-Man was always swinging and patrolling — so he would go on whatever adventure fell into his lap, or if one of his villains escaped he’d react and do something. But if things were slow, he never really went, “Well, what should I specifically do tonight?” There are things you can do proactively if you want to move the needle, which superheroes never seem to do because they’re always very reactive.
The one thing supervillains have is they come up with a plan and they do it! “I’ll build a weather machine and terrorize the city!” The hero just kind of goes, “I’m going to date my girlfriend and I’m going to go to work.” Or they do a bunch other mundane tasks. Then it’s “What? A weather machine! I have to stop it!” [Laughs
The villains are the go-getters in the Marvel Universe. They’re the ones that say, “Hey! Let’s do this!” Now it’s Doc Ock as a hero. “There is crime in this city — I will stop it! I’m going to look into why there’s crime in the city, where it’s coming from and how I can destroy it! The people of New York depend on me! I must destroy crime!”
The issue is about Spider-Man doing something that should have been done a long time ago.
Interesting. The solicits for issues #15-16 suggest Spider-Man is about to set his sights on the Hobgoblin. What made that match-up interesting to you? Is this just the Phil Urich Hobgoblin, or is Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin, involved as well?
Otto did uncover the original Hobgoblin’s super villain franchising operation in Chris Yost’s “Avenging Spider-Man,” but issues #15-16 involve the Phil Urich Hobgoblin. The fun of Phil is here’s this guy who’s a supervillain that takes video of himself and sells it to the Daily Bugle. [Laughs] It’s very obvious who he’s patterned after.
Now here you have Doc Ock as Spider-Man and he decides to go after this guy. It’s very much a complete role reversal. It’s like, “This is bizarre. What’s going on here?” That’s the kind of feel you want in “Superior Spider-Man.” You never know who to root for. Everything is a bit off kilter and through the looking glass.
We’ve talked a lot about Spider-Man’s super powered life in these three issues. I’m wondering about the role his life as Peter Parker will play in these tales — does Doc’s new M.O. mean we’ll see less of Peter and his supporting cast?
That is a very good question… and you’ll have to read the book for answers!
What can you say about Ramos’ interior artwork on “Superior Spider-Man” #14-16?
From the minute Spider-Man appears in issue #14 you know all bets are off and you’ve never seen him act like this before. It’s chaotic, over the top and crazy that it really takes someone with the manic energy of Humberto Ramos to show you how insane it’s going to be.
Supervillains are going to see that this isn’t your Friendly, Neighborhood Spider-Man. He’s acting completely different, and isn’t taking any guff! He’s leaping in, doing things that other heroes in the Marvel Universe just aren’t doing. Maybe that’s not a bad thing?
Finally, I’ve noticed something in terms of sales in this book. I believe congratulations are in order because “Superior Spider-Man” is Marvel’s best-selling ongoing title. How does that feel?
It feels great that people are supporting all the hard work Humberto, Ryan, Giuseppe, Victor, Edgar, Antonio, Chris, Ellie, Steve and everybody on the team is putting into this title. It’s tough putting out a twice a month book, and everyone gives it their all. It feels good that it’s getting out there and people are invested in it.
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos’ “Superior Spider-Man” #14 goes on sale July 24 from Marvel Comics