Superior Spider-Man #24

Writer Dan Slott, now along with co-writer Christos Gage, sometime penciller Humberto Ramos and inker Victor Olazaba, continues to mine all kinds of possibilities created with the current status quo of Spider-Man. In "Superior Spider-Man" #24, readers get to see what happens after the Venom symbiote re-bonded with Peter Parker at the end of last issue, except as all regular readers know, it's Otto Octavius' mind inside Peter's body. It's a tangled web indeed, but a clever one that readers have come to expect from Slott, and it's only made better with Gage sinking his own fangs into the series.

From the issue's opening moments, Slott and Gage seize on the dynamic created from the fusion of these three characters. Venom finds his old host oddly different and distasteful, while Octavius becomes enamored with the even greater power the symbiote gives him. The idea from afar sounds like a rejected premise for a contrived "What If...?" story, but it nevertheless entertainingly begins to answer the never-asked question: what if Doc Ock took over Peter Parker's body and then bonded with Venom? One interesting aspect to that answer is the all-too-logical yet clever way that Venom manifests itself under Octavius' command, and the way that the character is creepily imagined and rendered by Ramos.

As has always been the case under Slott's watch, and with most all of the great Spider-Man runs over the past few decades, the subplots involving Spidey's supporting cast go a long way towards supplementing the main storyline. There's Peter's current girlfriend and her relationship with Aunt May, not to mention another subplot with Peter's ex-girlfriend, and yet another with his never-wife MJ. There's the return of not one but two Goblin-type foes who are at odds with each other. And now there are new complications with Peter's childhood frenemy Flash Thompson. These aren't disconnected plot threads; they all carefully spun together and the actions of one ripple outward and affect others. This kind of complexity is what's carried the title through the few weak issues Slott's run has seen, but in a strong issue like this one, they only make it stronger.

The issue does have its weak moments, though; Ock's unhesitating acceptance of the symbiote plays out too quickly, and the subsequent shift of his mindset from Venom back to dealing with issue's in Peter's life is equally abrupt. Abrupt, but not impossible to accept, as Slott and Gage make the issue so entertaining in large part to the amount of content they cram into it, that such transitions are forgivable. "Superior Spider-Man" #24 featuring the Superior Venom is a very enjoyable and thrilling issue, typifying what Slott has delivered since taking the character into such unexplored territory.

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