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‘Superior Spider-Man Vol. 1: Supernova’ is a welcome return to the most ridiculous Spider-Man

The die is cast, and it’s bringing back a fan-favorite.

Doc Ock is back, and he’s looking for a chance to become Spider-Man yet again. With Spider-Man standing in his way, a slew of Spiders are left warring once again. Written by Dan Slott and drawn by multiple artists, Superior Spider-Man (2023)’s first TPB is a great way to leap right back into the shoes of the least friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

At a glance, the bulk of the book is filled by just four issues — Superior Spider-Man (2023) #1-4. This is a compelling point, but this book is somewhat of an exception to the idea that four issues are too little. Superior Spider-Man Returns #1 and Superior Spider-Man #1 work masterfully to reintroduce the character and to provide almost half of the book’s material. It creates a rewarding experience that never needs to pad for time or space.

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There are some parts of the books that don’t work in this format — references to “last issue”, for instance — but the vast majority read as if this was entirely written entirely for trade. The story progresses at the perfect pace, and the slow development of Supernova’s story is as fun as it is tragic.

Dock Ock’s struggle to regain the memory of his time as Superior Spider-Man is a perfect way to capture both his hubris and the tragedy of his loss. Unfortunately, his memory loss is somewhat confusing. While he spends ample time recovering his memory, the initial loss feels undefined and fluid. It can be difficult to care about the emotional impact of the memory loss when readers never even know just how much Doc Ock remembers in the first place.

Doc Ock meets Supernova in Superior Spider-Man

Marvel Comics

One major critique of the book is that the title, as it stands, is somewhat inaccurate. While Peter plays at being Superior Spider-Man, the character himself only appears in flashbacks. Anyone hoping to see the character’s return in the modern age will be bitterly disappointed. Still, it’s hard to mind when the character remains as interesting as ever. Getting to see Doc Ock working with Peter is always fun, and it’s a good glimpse into a future that could have been.

Supernova is also a well-developed villain, making it difficult to truly root against her. She’s a sympathetic character who works well to remind readers about Superior Spider-Man’s flaws. While Doc Ock is only reminding readers of the positive elements of his time as a hero, it’s nice to see the narrative directly contradict him.

Spider-Boy also has a prominent presence in the book, having starred in two different collected issues. It’s a sign of just how much Marvel is investing in this character, even when overlooking the fact that Spider-Boy has a book of his own now. His part of the book explains exactly where he was when Doc Ock first took Peter’s body. It’s a clever way to explain about Spider-Boy’s lack of involvement in the greater narrative and feels in line with other retcons involving the character.

Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Boy

Marvel Comics

One major negative in the book is fairly apparent, which is that it ends in the middle of an arc. Anyone hoping for a conclusion to the Supernova storyline will be summarily disappointed and will need to pick up the follow-up TPB. Still, what is here is compelling enough that it is undoubtedly worth picking up.

The art in this TPB is certainly a highlight. Supernova’s design is impressive, and the characters are as expressive as ever. The colors pop off the page, and there are two major splash pages that must have taken an eternity to draw. The attention to detail is also impressive, as characters constantly change in and out of costumes. In the span of two pages, Doc Ock and Spider-Man each change costumes three times, and the setting is constantly shifting around them. It’s certainly a great way to set a fight apart.

It’s been a few years since Superior Spider-Man last wore his suit, but he has undoubtedly become a mainstay in the Marvel universe. Superior Spider-Man’s continued presence in Marvel Comics is always fun, and this book is no exception. The art and the well-developed characters makes it a blast to read — and the page is certainly filled with blasts. There are certainly flaws in the book, but it’s hard not to have a good time reading it.

Superior Spider-Man cover
‘Superior Spider-Man Vol. 1: Supernova’ is a welcome return to the most ridiculous Spider-Man
Superior Spider-Man Vol. 1
It's been a few years since Superior Spider-Man last wore his suit, but he has undoubtedly become a mainstay in the Marvel universe. Superior Spider-Man's continued presence in Marvel Comics is always fun, and this book is no exception. The art and the well-developed characters makes it a blast to read — and the page is certainly filled with blasts. There are certainly flaws in the book, but it's hard not to have a good time reading it.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.5
Doc Ock's version of Spider-Man remains as fun as ever.
Supernova is an excellent villain who serves to mirror Superior Spider-Man.
The art is downright excellent.
The book is relatively incomplete and ends in the middle of an arc.
Superior Spider-Man is just left as a flashback character, which is disappointing.
8
Good
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