At New York Comic Con, writer Dan Slott made it very clear that there would be important developments in “Superior Spider-Man” #19. Slott reiterated the assertion during an interview with CBR and throughout the week on social media. Having read the issue, I can assure he’s absolutely correct.
Slott, as he usually does, doesn’t follow the obvious path. Nor does he throw out red herrings for the sake of it. What Dan Slott does in “Superior Spider-Man” #19 is game-changing: for this title and the future of the Marvel Universe, Slott plays Otto Octavius through Spider-Man against Tiberius Stone while tightening the connections between the 2099 Spider-Man (Miguel O’Hara) and Peter Parker. Much of what Slott has introduced during his run on both “Superior” and “Amazing Spider-Man” shifts as well. Octavius decides he needs to advance Parker’s life while O’Hara tries to salvage his future and avoid the founding of Alchemax. Slott also relies heavily on the visuals from his artist, Ryan Stegman, to communicate the thought process of Otto Octavius.
Stegman delivers admirably. There is a sequence in “Superior Spider-Man” #19 where Octavius searches for a memory from Parker’s experiences. In doing so, a number of classic scenes are reimagined with the original Doctor Octopus’ head (complete with bowl cut) on Spider-Man or Peter Parker’s body. Stegman does more than simply swap out heads in his drawings. He completely delivers fresh takes on those scenes. Some are quite comical, others scary, but every single one of them is well-constructed and true to the spirit of Spider-Man. At the end of that sequence, Stegman also delivers a visual that is certain to stir up a little buzz. Stegman’s art is edgier than his “Superior Spider-Man” co-artist Humberto Ramos, but no less animated. Add to that timespace dissolving as the chronotons chomp out pieces of the timeline in the story. The negative space the chronotons create in the panels and pages adds uncertainty to the story and a sharp visual that Edgar Delgado brilliantly illuminates.
I never expected the subplot with Miguel O’Hara to hook me quite as much as it did, given my shallow experience with the character. There is no denying that Slott has done a great job blazing new trails for Spider-Man’s world and given the developments of “Superior Spider-Man” #19, I’m more enthused to read this title than I have been in quite some time. Stegman drew this story with machined precision and the conclusion of “Necessary Evil” leaves ramifications certain to affect the Marvel Universe to come, especially as that universe is still reeling from the time-shaking effects of “Age of Ultron.”