Superior Spider-Man #30: Truths Laid Bare
Here it is. Superior Spider-Man #30, the much-hyped game-changing issue in the ongoing "Goblin Nation" arc, and boy, does it completely change the game.
The Green Goblin's armies are terrorizing New York in such numbers that even the Avengers are stretched thin trying to handle them. Otto Octavius, who has taken up residence in Peter Parker's body, is getting frantic, as the Goblin has taken over Mayor Jameson's new Spider-Slayers and is gang-tackling him and Spider-Man 2099, who can't believe something he helped build – complete with failsafes to stop them – has been hacked from the outside. And the Goblin also has Anna Maria Marconi, the woman Otto loves, as a hostage.
Be forewarned, you'll want to read the issue before you read this review, because HERE THERE BE SPOYLERS.
First of all, this feels like a super-sized issue, but that's because you get a free copy of Black Widow #1 attached to it, which is cool, because that book is good.
Secondly, the fact that we haven't seen the face behind the mask of the Green Goblin bears fruit here, because despite all the claims that it was Norman Osborn behind the mask, we see the head of Alchemax, one Liz Allan – mother of Norman's grandchild – hiding a goblin mask of her own. If she's somehow been the Goblin the whole time, it's a little disappointing that the Norman/Otto showdown wasn't really that… but at the same time, an impostor Spider-Man deserves an impostor Goblin. Or, perhaps, Norman is just working in cahoots with Liz, who has now accepted her involvement in the Goblin lineage. Or it's a red herring.
Most importantly, though, Peter Parker's swiss-cheese memory, which had been suppressed as he's been forced to relive Otto Octavius' entire wretched life, is fixed when he finally gets to Amazing Spider-Man #700, the point where the dying Peter, in Otto's old body, forced his memories into Otto's mind – and thus the Spectral Peter of Now is able to reabsorb his full self… and possibly with a new outlook about just how much fun it is to be Spider-Man. This, combined with the fact that Otto's time as Spider-Man has proven to be an unmitigated disaster that he has no idea how to fix, means that the time has come to give up the charade. Otto commits his most heroic act to date – the self-sacrifice.
The fat lady hasn't completely finished her song yet, but Otto has called in Peter to clean up his mess, and it's a triumphant return for the Truly Superior Spider-Man. Did he sacrifice himself entirely? That seems unlikely – odds are that he somehow transferred himself back into a Spider-Bot or an Octo-Bot or maybe even into The Living Brain robot, which would be appropos because it is also an awkward, tubby kind of robot. But it's a strong moment when all the facades and blusters have come crashing down, and Otto realizes he almost selfishly let a child die at the Goblin's hands because he had a preferred hostage to rescue. Even Otto can't cling to his arrogance anymore after that, and he recognizes harsh truths about himself – and shows Peter a side of his own psyche that he hadn't considered.
Also of note – no one saw this change, and there's no trace of Otto left right now, which might mean that no one will believe Peter when he asserts that Otto took control of his life for a year. The Avengers have plans to arrest Spider-Man in conjunction with his work with Cardiac, doing illegal medical things to help people, for one thing, and he'll have so much work to do to salvage any of his friendships. In fact, during our talk about the upcoming giant arc called Spider-Verse, writer Dan Slott seemed to imply that there were some huge changes afoot for Peter's supporting cast going forward. We'll have to see how this all plays out, but it's exciting.
Slott and Christos Gage wrote Superior Spider-Man #30, and it is heavy with the burden of defeat. Otto has no answers, no patience, and no hope, and it's not the bombastic end we might have expected to his tenure as Spider-Man… it's just kind of depressing – enough so that the final splash page of Peter Parker getting ready for action again doesn't quite feel as exciting as we'd like it to feel – although your mileage may vary if you're one of the people who hate Otto and just wanted Peter back as soon as possible. I suspect the excitement will come more from the next couple of issues, watching the real Spidey (and you can call him Spidey again, since Otto would always be a formal, hyphenated Spider-Man) take the Goblin to school.
Giuseppe Camuncoli's artwork is great as usual, emotional and moody where it needs to be, although there's something a bit off about that final splash page as well, as it doesn't have the striking look it needs, either. It's an awkward-looking pose, but that's a complete nitpick, because there' so much greatness going on throughout the issue as Otto comes to terms with failure and Peter finally finds a way to triumph.
So, here we are, folks. the Amazing Spider-Man is back, and the Superior Spider-Man is gone. I, for one, am kinda maudlin about it. I'm sure I'll get over it, soon, but I loved this storyline with my whole heart, and I'm sad to see it end. But all things must end. And Spider-Man must endure.
See you soon, Otto. Somewhere. And the lessons you've learned here will make you very interesting whenever you resurface.