Spidey Speculation on...the Identity of the Superior Spider-Man

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd 16 October 2012

As you readers know, I did a “Spidey Speculation” article on what I believed could happen in Amazing Spider-Man #700, the much-hyped status quo changing, internet-breaking-in-half issue in which “nothing will be the same again.”  The issue doesn‘t come out until this December, but some of my predictions have already come to pass (“Dying Wish” being about Doc Ock learning Spider-Man is Peter Parker) and others wound up being very off the mark (pretty much the entire section involving the Jackal and J. Jonah Jameson Senior).  Well, with several titles about to be re-launched as part of Marvel Comics' "Marvel NOW!" promotion, we have learned that Amazing Spider-Man is officially ending after #700 and replaced with a brand new title, The Superior Spider-Man.  And what have we learned about the apparent new status quo for our favorite web-slinger?

1. He has a slightly altered costume.
2. He has a darker, more aggressive, less “friendly neighborhood” attitude.
3. He has retractable claws on his fingers and big toe.
4. He’s getting back together with Mary Jane Watson.  But…
5. He’s not Peter Parker.  Wait, WHAT?!

Naturally, this has generated controversy (particularly with regards to the last two developments) and the question on everyone’s mind is “If this Spider-Man is not Peter Parker, then who is it?” 

That’s where I come in, as I provide you readers with a list of possible candidates.  One person we can rule out, thanks to the release of cover for Superior Spider-Man #2, is a potential 616 version of Miles Morales.  Same goes for Kaine and Flash Thompson, as both will be continuing to be the star of Scarlet Spider and Venom respectively.  But that still leaves a pretty wide open field, so we might as well go through them while we can. 


Many people have jumped on Spidey’s one-time arrogant, egotistical “sidekick” as the prime suspect, including yours truly.  But after reading the actual story in which Alpha debuted, (Amazing Spider-Man #692-694) I don‘t believe this will be the case. With Spidey significantly reducing Alpha’s powers, he now seems more like a set-up to become a future super-villain.  Plus based on the released artwork Ryan Stegman has done, it’s clear the Superior Spider-Man does not have the same physicality as Alpha does (unless Ryan Stegman can’t artistically distinguish the body types of a 15-16 year-old and a 20-30 year old).  Moreover, Alpha didn’t come across like the type of person who would want to have a secret identity, much less pretend to be the superhero who took away most of his powers.  This is someone who we are told felt like a “nobody” all his life, who thought having powers is what finally made him “special,” and someone who basks in the glow of media celebrity.  He would much rather seek fame and fortune as himself instead of pretending to be Spider-Man.  Besides, Alpha was so despised (and intended to be so by Slott) would Marvel really bank on having a new Spider-Man series with such a character as the lead?

Odds: 1,000 to 1
Ben Reilly

Considering that the Jackal and Kaine have a made a return, the question of whether or not Ben Reilly can be far behind is a fair one to ask.  Problem is, we saw Ben Reilly disintegrate into a "pile of goo."  So how then could he possibly come back, much less be the new "Superior Spider-Man?"  Perhaps the Jackal found the remains of Ben Reilly and reformed him?  Perhaps the vision Madame Web saw in Amazing Spider-Man #695 of what looked like Peter Parker's face surrounded by water was actually Ben Reilly being reborn?  Maybe this “Ben Reilly” could be genetically modified, this explaining the retractable claws, and a different personality, in spite retaining his memories, as a side-effect?  After all, Dan Slott did say at this year’s New York Comic Con that the Superior Spider-Man “has serious Spider-Man pedigree,” and there's nothing more pedigree than being an exact genetic match of the original.  

The problem?  We already have a clone of Spider-Man running around named Kaine in Scarlet Spider, so having two Spider-Man titles in which both the main characters are clones of the original would be redundant.  Heck, the very fact we're supposedly getting a more aggressive and darker Spider-Man is already being accused of redundancy considering that is what Kaine is supposed to be. 

Odds: 1,000,000 to 1

Miquel O'Hara/Spider-Man 2099

Let's see: retractable claws on his fingertips and big toe?  A not-so “Friendly Neighborhood“ version of Spider-Man?  A darker color scheme in the costume?  Seems awfully familiar, does it not?  And considering Miquel O’Hara is from a possible future with greater advancements in science and technology, he certainly would be more “superior” than Peter in that regard.  In terms of esthetics, both the Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 seem virtually identical.  Time travel is a common plot device in the Marvel Universe, so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Miquel O’Hara could wind up stuck in the present and taking over for a mysteriously absent Peter Parker. 

Despite being from the defunct Marvel 2099 line, Spider-Man 2099 has retained cult following, and thanks to video games like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time, there is now new-found interest in the character.  Even at the Spider-Man panel for this year’s New York Comic Con, Marvel editor Steve Wacker stated that, maybe, Spider-Man 2099 could return.  Maybe when Dan Slott talked about the Superior Spider-Man’s “pedigree,” he was referring to Spider-Man’s symbolic descendant.

But why not just re-introduce Spider-Man 2099 as…Spider-Man 2099?  Why put him in a garb at emulates Peter Parker’s costume?  Also, having a series starring a time-displaced main character comes across, in light of the other Marvel NOW! titles, a bit too similar to the premise behind All-New X-Men, in which the younger versions of the original five X-Men get sent to the present from the past.  Finally, how would Miquel O’Hara coming back in time to our present day tie into the events of Amazing Spider-Man #700?  Or are they completely separate incidents?

Oh, and one more thing:  Miquel O'Hara shoots his webbing "from the top of his wrists."  Preview artwork from Superior Spider-Man #1 shows the new Spidey shooting his webs just like the original.

Odds: 15 to 1

Harry Osborn

We haven't seen Peter's best friend in a long time, not since Amazing Spider-Man #647 in which he was forced to go into hiding after the birth of his and Lily Hollister's son, Stanley.  Having Harry return the moment Peter is out of the picture certainly would be an unexpected and surprising twist.  Also, the fact that his father, Norman Osborn, is in a coma, that would give him a reason for coming out hiding.  We also know  Harry is capable of being a hero; he's done it before both as a heroic Green Goblin and as the American Son. He certainly has a darker attitude, thanks to a lifetime of psychological abuse from his dad.  And he's also Mary Jane's ex-boyfriend, so it's certainly possible Harry could move in on her while Peter is incapacitated. 

However, even though he was apparently revived by the Goblin Formula, and that he had superpowers when he briefly became the American Son, I don't believe he has powers anymore.  Nor, despite having used gadgets in the past, do I think he has the technical skill required to invent devices designed to replicate Spider-Man's powers unless he recieved help from someone else.  Furthermore, he still has Stanley to take care of.  Would he really be spending his time doing super-heroics if this were the case, particularly since he sees Stanley as his second chance after screwing-up his own marriage with Liz Allen and being estranged from his first son, Normie?    

Odds: 20 to 1

Doctor Octopus

One intriguing theory that's been gaining some momentum as of late is that Otto Octavious will cheat death once again and get revenge on Spider-Man at the same time--by transplanting his mind into Peter's body!  Certainly, "superior" is definitely an adjective Doc Ock would use to describe himself, and the idea of one of Spidey's greatest villains using Spider-Man's body to create all sorts of mischief in order to ruin his life would fit with the implied "strange" and "creepy" tone Dan Slott is promising for the title.  Not to mention the idea of Doc Ock romancing Mary Jane (or heck, Aunt May) while pretending to be Peter would just be all kinds of wrong.  Even the new eye-lenses seem to evoke Doc Ock's characteristic goggles. 

However, there are two very big problems with this.  Presuming the retractable claws of the Superior Spider-Man are anything like Miquel O'Hara's, why would Doc Ock see the need to have them?  If he's in Peter's body, wouldn't he have all of Peter's powers, including his wall-crawling ability?  Second, even if Doc Ock would be using Peter's body to get revenge, his massive ego would never allow Peter or Spider-Man to get "credit" for the things he's done.  Remember, Doc Ock is a megalomaniac, who cannot help but be the center of attention.  This is someone who, in recent Marvel history, publicly went to the airwaves and announced to the entire world that he solved the problem of "global warming," which was all part of a plan to go down as "the greatest mass murderer in the history of the mankind."  Yes, Doc Ock does go into hiding and uses subterfuge and deceit to better carry out his plans.  But when executing those plans, he let's everybody know it was his plan, because he is someone who seeks and demands respect and recognition. 

Moreover, while Doc Ock would use "superior" as an adjective to describe himself, he values "mental superiority" over "physical superiority."  Being forced to inhabit the body of his archenemy--even if it's to save his own life--would be seen as acknowledging the "physical superiority" is greater than "mental superiority," something Doc Ock could never allow.

Besides, Dan Slott also revealed Doc Ock does indeed die after Amazing Spider-Man #700.  But you never know.  After all, would Marvel really allow one of Spidey's greatest villains to stay dead for long?
Odds: 10 to 1

Phil Urich

Dan Slott teased that readers would soon see a major status-quo change for Ben Urich’s mentally disturbed nephew and the current Hobgoblin after “Danger Zone” (Amazing Spider-Man #695-697).  Considering how Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin, has returned, and how Phil’s girlfriend, Norah Winters, no longer cares about Phil’s Hobgoblin footage, it appears the stage is set for Phil to be not only be exposed as the new Hobgoblin, but kicked out of that identity all together.  So what would Phil, potentially on the run from the authorities and maybe even the Kingpin do?  Well, if there’s an incapacitated or missing Spider-Man after Amazing Spider-Man #700, he can do what he always does--seize the opportunity to rob another person’s tech and identity, in this case Spider-Man’s.

Consider: Phil has played the part of superhero before when he donned the identity of the Green Goblin.  He has the strength and agility courtesy of the Goblin formula.  He has the technical know-how to make costume alterations and tweak gadgets, such as creating retractable claws for wall-crawling and slashing weapons.  He definitely is delusional to see himself as being “superior” to the original Spider-Man in every respect.  He’s certainly a much darker and not-so friendly character, and would be fitting with Dan Slott‘s notion that this is a more “twisted“ Spider-Man.  The title of the first story of Superior Spider-Man, “Hero or Menace?“ certainly fits with his character, as well.  Even Mary Jane being the love interest could in reality be him having the hots for her but she doesn’t reciprocate those feelings, which the cover for Superior Spider-Man #2 certainly seems to imply.  Finally, he's essentially a dark reflection of Peter Parker already, so him being a "darker" Spider-Man completes the transition.  All in all, Phil Urich looks like a very strong contender.   

Odds: 5 to 1

Peter Parker

Now I know what some of you are already thinking: how can the Superior Spider-Man be Peter Parker when Dan Slott and everyone else at Marvel is saying he’s not Peter Parker?  Well here’s a possible explanation: what if Peter Parker, at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #700, abandons his identity as “Peter Parker.”  What if he makes the world believe that “Peter Parker” is dead? 

Just take a look at what’s been happening to Peter in the comics ever since “Spider-Island.”  His relationship with Carlie Cooper ended after she found out he was Spider-Man, something which he didn’t want her to know.  He no longer has the psychic blindspot that prevented people from figuring out Peter and Spider-Man are one-and-the-same.  He has just been publicly ousted by the Daily Bugle as being “Spider-Man’s tech guy” at Horizon Labs.  The Jackal knows his identity, as does Mysterio as seen in Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Men mini-series.  And we’re getting a story in which Doctor Octopus, one of Spidey’s greatest villains, also learns his secret identity and is about enact revenge in his final hours.  As things stand, Peter is dangerously close to being right back to where he was during Civil War when his identity was public and there‘s no way he would let that happen again.  With whatever happens in Amazing Spider-Man #700 being the last straw, Peter may believe the only way to preserve his identity, protect the people he cares about, and keep on being Spider-Man is to “kill off” Peter Parker.

Also, maybe something happens in Amazing Spider-Man #700 which makes Peter mutate, thus explaining why he now would have retractable claws and altered eye lenses, which would also force him to not be Peter Parker.  The darker attitude could be a result of whatever happens in Amazing Spider-Man #700 as well as a means of throwing off further suspicion that Spider-Man is in any way related to Peter Parker.  And, it would also explain how “Spider-Man and Mary Jane get back together” as well as following-up on what Dan Slott himself has been doing in Amazing Spider-Man in teasing Peter and Mary Jane’s feelings for each other starting to be rekindled.  And technically, the folks are Marvel would still be correct in saying The Superior Spider-Man is not Peter Parker because Peter Parker is no longer “Peter Parker.”  Not to mention, it would be a different take on Spider-Man to have everyone believe Peter was dead while continuing to be Spider-Man as opposed to someone else taking up the role.  In fact the more emphatic Slott and Marvel seem to be about this Spider-Man not being Peter Parker, the more it seems like a half-truth and misdirection.

The main problem with this (aside from going against the idea of a Spider-Man who is not Peter Parker) is how a future writer could undo such a drastic change?  Then again, that’s going to be a challenge regardless.

Odds: 2 to 1

Italian Spiderman

Well, he is a more aggressive Spider-Man with additional powers AND who is a real hit with the ladies.  Maybe he lost some weight and shaved his mustache? 

Odds: Okay, seriously?  That's just too weird.

So which one of these do you believe is the new "Superior Spider-Man?"  Or do you have someone else in mind?  And will Spidey fans even continue to follow the adventures of this wall-crawler?  Either way, I have a strong suspicion the controversy will rage on even after we learn just who it really is.

Not even Mary Jane seems happy about this new "Superior" Spider-Man.


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