Superior Spider-Man #23
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Art: Humberto Ramos
Colors: Edgar Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Lots of ongoing comics today can feature long and sometimes year-spanning story arcs that last up to eleven issues or longer (we’re looking at you, Scott Snyder!). This can make for some truly epic and serious story-telling, but sometimes you just get bored reading one story over an entire year. Which is one reason why The Superior Spider-Man has been so enjoyable. Most issues contain a one-shot story with other arcs going no longer than three issues. With “Darkest Hours” set to span four issues, co-writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage should have had plenty of time to spread the events of this story a bit more evenly. But unfortunately, Superior Spider-Man #23 packs just a little too much plot into too few pages.
The issue begins with a fight between Venom and Spider-Man, but quickly changes gears into a series of jumps from one plot thread to the next. The Green Goblin continues to interrogate Carlie Cooper, MJ receives a visit from Captain Yuri, May gets her new nanotech hip, Jameson begins conspiring to build new spider-slayers, Peter’s family has an awkward first meeting with Anna Maria, and Flash comes to Peter looking for help. With all these ongoing threads, the writing tends to suffer and reads a bit corny and rushed at points. Otto having no memory of Flash Thompson seems like a missed opportunity for drama between the two, and the Goblin scene doesn’t seem to add anything of importance.
The ending comes off as especially lazy. While prepping Flash for some new legs, Peter leaves the room and returns as his “specialist” Spider-Man in a scene even Stan Lee would have seen as a bit too suspicious. And while the ending does leave us with quite an interesting cliffhanger, many readers were probably able to predict what happens on the final page. Like the last issue, Humberto Ramos delivers the best of his unique style whether you like it or not and truly shines in scenes involving the symbiote. Superior Spider-Man #23 may not have been the strongest issue in the series but perhaps by getting a few unnecessary scenes out of the way now, the next two issues of “Darkest Hours” will deliver a more streamlined and satisfying conclusion.