Otto Octavius has once again taken up the mantle of the Superior Spider-Man. It could not have happened at a better time as Terrax, former herald of Galactus has landed in San Francisco and the city desperately needs a hero. They’ll have to settle for Otto. While he’s got all the powers of Spider-Man and all the smarts and gadgets of Doc Ock, will that be enough to stop the Power Cosmic?
Based on the bulk of The Superior Spider-Man #2, the answer to that question is “no.” Otto gets his butt kicked in some increasingly brutal attacks. There’s a reason the real Spider-Man tends to stick to more street level enemies and not cosmic ones, the symbiote not withstanding. The differences in power sets here are devastating.
While this fight is pretty one-sided, it works to knock Otto down a peg. He’s so annoyingly arrogant so he almost deserves this beating just to put his ego in check. You can see this realization dawn on him as the battle continues. Writer Christos Gage puts in some great inner narration from Otto as he pushes himself farther than ever. He has to dig down deep and remember why he’s trying to be a hero in the first place.
By the end of the issue, Otto can barely stand. Letterer Clayton Cowles shows just how weary the character is with these wobbly word balloons. It’s a struggle for him even to speak. I love details like this because it says so much with so little.
Otto’s costume gets torn to shreds during this battle. Artist Mike Hawthorne gives it a great battered look for the most of it. It gets almost too ripped up by the end, to the point where you can barely tell it’s a Spider-Man suit. Otto is practically naked by the end of this issue. That’s a little excessive, but when you’re getting hit with blasts from the Power Cosmic, I guess that can happen.
Colorist Jordie Bellaire casts a dreary tone in Superior Spider-Man #2 during the fight between Terrax and Otto. The sky is dark and foreboding with greys and browns. The smoke and dust from this fight has been kicked into the air creating a cloud of despair around the area. It underscores the hopelessness of the scene and just how harrowing this battle is.
Otto does have a few tricks up his sleeve. While he’s fighting Terrax in the streets, his spider-bots are building a contraption in his lab. This brings Anna-Maria, his ex-girlfriend into the mix as she’s watching this chaos unfold there. She provides a reality check every so often, reminding us that our only hope of safety is Doctor Octopus. This could help win her over a little as she was ready to turn Otto into the authorities in the previous issue.
The relationship (or lack there of) between Anna-Maria and Otto brings a human quality to this book. It’s that personal element that has been a constant in Peter Parker’s life and was missing in Otto’s. Part of the fun of Spider-Man is how he juggles his personal life with his super hero life. When Otto buries himself in his work, there’s no room for supporting characters to provide him context and a reason to do what he’s doing. He’s just out there trying to prove himself superior.
After essentially causing Spider-Geddon, Otto Octavius needed to prove once again that he’s a hero. Superior Spider-Man #2 certainly shows the lengths he’s willing to go to do that. I’m not sure what lesson he’s going to learn as a result of this though. Knowing Otto, he could take this the wrong way and build some terrifying robot to protect the planet from alien threats.