Writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage take readers on another adventure with Otto Octavius, the Spider-Man in the pages of “Superior Spider-Man” #32. Although Peter Parker is back in control of his body in “Amazing Spider-Man,” Slott and Gage provide readers with an opportunity to read one more Octo-Spidey story. This one, however, is a doozy that doubles as a prologue to the upcoming “Spider-Verse” event.
Slott and Gage explain to readers how it is possible to have Octavius around in a succinct manner, building the reason into the story of “Superior Spider-Man” #32 and presenting “Spider-Verse” in a logical manner. This affords the writers an opening to spread the spider-love all across dimensions and time. The story is energetic and tense, loaded with an anything-is-possible undertone that plays out on more than one occasion. The writing duo gives readers a fun “gathering of heroes” plot to kick off the “Spider-Verse” event. Gage then steps up to deliver a tale on his own that dials in on one specific Spider-Man, who has a very close encounter with the mysterious antagonist and enters into an agreement with the Superior Spider-Man that he may come to regret later.
Much of “Superior Spider-Man” #32 is action-driven, and firmly executed through the tight storytelling and pencil work of Giuseppe Camuncoli in the first segment and Adam Kubert in the second. Camuncoli uses a magnificent array of panel orientations and page constructions. There are pages with five page-width panels depicting the action and two dynamic verticals delivering tragic emotional beats as well as full-bleed splash pages and more dense gridded out pages. The artist doesn’t skimp on detail, from background barbed wire to moments of Todd McFarlane-inspired webbing. Antonio Fabela colors the lead story with bold, vibrant tones, sending the visuals over the top, but he keeps the palette tight enough that “Superior Spider-Man” #32 doesn’t become an overloaded explosion of color.
Kubert and colorist Rain Beredo answer the challenge, but the pacing and density of “The Spider-Sanction” back-up requires more conservative page construction following the use of a double-page spread for the story’s critical turn. Kubert and Beredo collaborate on the dimensionality of the characters, with Beredo providing shading instead of any spotted blacks or cross-hatching from Kubert. The art isn’t as impactful as Camuncoli’s, but it serves the purpose, tells the story and provides a nice slice of variety as the web of Spider-Verse expands.
While I was skeptical of Slott and Gage dipping back into the Otto Octavius/Superior Spider-Man well so soon after the return of Peter Parker, “Superior Spider-Man” #32 hit me as a pleasant surprise. Unencumbered by current continuity, Slott and Gage are able to play around with the concepts and characters that are set to become the spine of “Spider-Verse.” It’s not spider-sense, but the uncertainty backed by action and excitement appears to be setting “Spider-Verse” up to be an event to remember.