Superior Spider-Man #22
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Art: Humberto Ramos
Colors: Edgar Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics
One of the more intriguing and entertaining aspects of The Superior Spider-Man so far has been watching Otto’s interactions with the rest of the Marvel universe based on memories from Peter Parker and his own experiences as Doctor Octopus. So naturally, the idea of Octavius taking on Venom, one of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes, would seem like a great opportunity to see just how different the two Spider-Men are. However, it’s worth noting that Agent Venom and Spider-Man haven’t really encountered each other since Flash Thompson bonded with the symbiote. So Peter Parker never knew about Flash as Venom, and it still remains to be seen if Otto ever checked out any memories on Eugene. So what happens when this Spider-Man and this Venom take each other on for the first time?
Unfortunately, this first issue of the “Darkest Hours” arc doesn’t focus much on that idea. Instead, co-writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage take us on a tour of Otto’s efforts to “improve” the life of Peter Parker. His Parker Industries facility is in full swing, Aunt May’s getting a cybernetic limb to replace her cane (surely Aunt Octopus isn’t far behind), and things are starting to get pretty serious with Anna Maria. We do get a few brief moments featuring Agent Venom on the trail of Crime Master, so any readers missing his recently canceled series can get their Flash fix, but this is soon interrupted by our insidious Spider-Man.
Not everyone is a fan of Humberto Ramos and his cartoonish style. But for a storyline involving gooey symbiotes that will likely be separating and re-bonding to various hosts, his energetic art and exaggerated anatomy is an arguable fit for the plot. And to his credit, his pencils are mostly consistent throughout #22, as opposed to past issues where Mary Jane’s eyes tend to wander away from each other. Given the title to “Darkest Hours” it’s safe to assume that the fruits of Otto’s labor may soon spoil, especially if he’s inherited Parker’s luck along with his body. That may not happen in this issue, but Superior Spider-Man #22 still serves as an excellent first chapter in what will hopefully be the next great Spider-Man vs. Venom story.