Spoiler alert: Peter Parker is dead and Otto Octavius is Spider-Man now. Okay, if that’s a spoiler, you obviously haven’t been keeping up with the Marvel Universe. But if it happens that “Superior Spider-Man Team-Up” #1 is a reader’s first Spider-book in a while — well, the preceding is all explained in the first page catch-up blurb anyway.
The problem with having a decades-old Spider-Man villain in the role of Spider-Man is readers can’t trust him. The hero of the comic spends the entire time running around New York City fighting all the other Manhattan-based superheroes, which is sometimes fun (Spider-Man punching out Doctor Strange in what appears to be a bland office) and sometimes not (Spider-Man faces off against Sun Girl?). But as the issue wears on, no real reason is given. Frankly, it’s tough to get invested in a comic without knowing whether to root for or against the protagonist.
A reason is eventually given, and it does vindicate Doctor Spider-Pus’s actions, which makes him sort of retroactively heroic in a standoffish kind of way. It doesn’t really change the fact that throughout the issue, readers can never really get on Spidey’s side, never really relate to him or put themselves in his shoes. Countless times, Spider-Man has had to go against the grain of heroism, doing things that seem villainous or sacrifice his friendships and happiness as Peter Parker. But during all those sagas, readers always been right there with him, watching him make the hard choice. They’ve felt the unfairness of his persecution by the heavy-hitter heroes who just don’t understand. “Team-Up” #1 picks up after the choice has been made, and considering that Doc Ock/Spidey is kind of a jerk, the persecution of the Avengers feels fairly justified.
The art in “Superior Spider-Man Team-Up” #1 is similarly unsatisfying. It has a hit-or-miss quality to it that makes the book feel rushed. Some frames are solidly drawn, with one or two key moments given plenty of attention. But much of the rest of the book suffers from awkward angles, a lazy lack of backgrounds, and a facial style that’s just manga enough to look weird in a very western comic. The coloring has a similarly rushed feel, with mostly flat blocks that add little to the depth of the world.
Readers who are really invested in the Doc Ock-as-Spidey storyline, or really want to see Spider-Man fighting every hero in New York (does that mean this is like a thirty-way team-up issue?) then “Superior Spider-Man Team-Up” #1 might be worth the time and money. But it’s clearly not the flagship Spider-Man book, which shows in the lackluster writing and art.