Inhumanity: Superior Spider-Man #1

Posted by Donovan McComish 06 February 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Inhumanity: Superior Spider-Man #1.

Synopsis:

In the aftermath of Infinity, New York is partially in ruins, with many people taking part in repairing the city. The "Superior Spider-Man" is one of them, though he isn't doing this for entirely altruistic reasons. His main motivation is instead to harvest the Inhuman technology that's now scattered across the city. Having just claimed a piece of said technology, he moves on, wondering how people can stand having no control over the world, before receiving a call from one of his Spider-Lings, who informs him that they've maybe found another one in a nearby apartment block. The henchman moves in for a closer look, but the mystery tech in the building disables the Arachnaught, forcing SpOck to prevent it from flattening several civilians, which he does so by suspending it in mid-air with his webbing (I'll give him that since he tweaked the formula.).

As the henchman acted without orders, Otto promptly fires him before speaking with firefighter Lieutenant Coyle, who tells him that their communications are gone. SpOck takes him up to the roof so he can show Otto the impact site there. It turns out a chunk of an Inhuman building hit the roof, which the firemen tagged since it was a low priority when compared to the damage. Upon reaching the roof, the two discover that someone has broken in and stolen whatever was inside. They quickly deduce that the residents of apartment 10D, Arthur and Susan Schweibe, have the mystery device since there's an otherworldly glow coming from their window. The pair enter the building, with SpOck noting that the tech is sapping the bio-energy of the buildings occupants. Otto tries to gain access to the apartment by knocking, but instead gets a punch in the face from Arthur Schweibe who is wearing the mystery Inhuman device, an exoskeletal suit.

"Spider-Man" attempts to reason with Schweibe, asking him to take the suit off (oh you'd like that wouldn't you?), but he refuses to listen, saying he's sick of everyone else getting the breaks, and that this device is his wife's last chance since she is suffering from cancer, which Ock discovers when he finds some Katipatine (a cancer drug) by her bed where she is still sleeping. He then reveals to Schweibe that the armour he's wearing isn't meant to cure disease. It is in fact, used to strengthen wounded warriors by feeding on the "the enemies", in this case, the occupants of the apartment life force. Schweibe however, doesn't care, his only concern is his wife. Coyle then makes his presence known by asking Arthur why his wife is asleep? He reveals that Schweibe in fact drugged his wife since she didn't want the energy that was being drained from other people and he couldn't say no to her. Coyle also tells him that when you use the ones you love as an excuse, your not doing it for them, your doing it for you.

Arthur then slumps to the floor in defeat, allowing Otto to deactivate the exo-suit. He tells Schweibe that he will make arrangements for Dr. Elias Wirtham (aka Cardiac) to treat his wife and as the suit did affect his mind, he'll tell the authorities that Arthur wasn't responsible for his actions, remarking that no one should go through what his wife is about to face alone. SpOck then leaves the apartment, noticing one of his Spider-Lings talking down to another fireman. Otto interjects, ordering the henchman to treat the firemen with respect and assist them any way that he can, because today, they are his superiors...as well as Otto's...

Thoughts:

This issue is written by Christos Gage, who previously did the series tie-in to Age of Ultron as well as co-writing the "No Escape" & "Darkest Hours" story arcs with Dan Slott for the main title. Like with the A.U issue he uses the backdrop of Inhumanity to tell a small scale, but compelling story that puts the "Superior Spider-Man" through a satisfying character arc.

One of Otto Octavius' most defining character traits (besides his ego) is his authoritarianism, his desire for control on a grand scale, which is undeniably selfish, so watching him work with firefighters, whose job is entirely selfless, is an interesting idea and one that Gage deals with very well. The character of Lieutenant Coyle is likable and represents that selflessness brilliantly, but I do feel it was a missed opportunity to not feature Mary Jane's boyfriend Pedro Olivera since he is also a fireman and it would have allowed for more tension between Otto and the fire service.

I also have to commend Gage for not going the predictable route such as having "Spidey" face off with a newly hatched Inhuman. Instead, the "villain" of the piece, Arthur Shweibe, is more interesting and way more sympathetic than some shallow, xenophobic youth disgusted with their new form. He also serves Otto's character arc by showing him the strength of compassion through his desire to save his wife. Her struggle with cancer not only reminds Otto of what he went through before he became Spider-Man, but I think it also makes him think about how things would have panned out if he'd had the same love and support that Arthur, however misguided, shows to his wife. Once again Otto comes away from this experience a better human being with more dimension, something he's been lacking for the most part in his duration as the wall-crawler. This lesson of compassion he receives goes hand in hand very well with the lesson of selflessness that Coyle demonstrates, strengthening the resulting character arc considerably.

The artwork on display from Stephanie Hans looks more like a painting, especially with the opening shot of a post-Infinity New York. The muted colours and faded inks capture the feeling of exhaustion throughout the issue, with the former brightening up towards the end to bring a renewed sense of hope that mirrors Otto's character arc perfectly. Once again Christos Gage has done a great job in bringing more dimension to Doc SpOck, and the addition of Hans frankly beautiful artwork makes this tie-in a worthy successor to the previous one...

Score: 4.5/5.0

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