Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Superior Spider-Man #6AU.
Synopsis:After being saved by Hawkeye and returned to the heroes hideout, Otto Octavius stands facing the devastation of New York. He narrates about how often he used to imagine this scenario when he was Doctor Octopus, but now all he can think about is Aunt May & Mary Jane (who are implied to be dead now). He angrily shunts the blame to Peter Parker (for "distracting" Otto with his mess of a life) before being interrupted by Iron Man, who mistakes it as Spider-Man blaming himself. He tells "Peter" that he has a plan to defeat Ultron.
Tony explains that when he was the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, he was in charge of planning various responses to doomsday scenarios. One involves placing a number of devices around an area overrun by enemy forces, and then activating the central device to shunt the aforementioned area into the Negative Zone. Unfortunatly the control device requires Negative Zone tech, some of which is currently at Horizon Labs. The plan is to have Quicksilver place the devices around Ultron's stronghold, while SpOck completes and activates the control unit, which would subsequently send Ultron into another dimension.
After Quicksilver drops him off at Horizon, SpOck makes his way to Max Modell's lab, coming across the corpse of Modell himself along the way. After reaching his objective, SpOck discards the device and changes course, arriving at "his" lab, where he activates one of his Spider-Bots, drawing Ultron Sentinels to his location. Upon their arrival, SpOck attacks them, fixing the Spider-Bot to one of the Ultron's and tricking them into destroying another. As reinforcements arrive, it is revealed that SpOck has summoned the rest of his Spider-Bots, which arrive in a swarm. They attach themselves to the Ultron Sentinels, putting them under Otto's control and causing them to sprout tentacles similar to Ock's original harness.
SpOck directs them to Ultron's stronghold, where they locate Ultron's central intelligence. As he is about to attack, Otto realises the figure is not Ultron, who then appears virtually before him. Ultron destroys the unit Otto is controlling and instantly uploads defenses for the Spider-Bot malware into the Ultron Sentinels, which resume attacking SpOck. As he flees, Otto desperately attempts to complete Iron Man's plan, but the control device is destroyed before he can get it to the N-Zone tech. Completely defeated, SpOck retreats through Modell's secret tunnels as the Ultron's destroy Horizon Labs.
A while later, SpOck reunites with Iron Man & Quicksilver, telling them he failed. He also lies to them about what happened at Horizon, Stark tells him it probably wouldn't have worked anyway, to which SpOck assures him it would have. As Iron Man talks about picking themselves up and carrying on, Otto realises that by seeing the Avengers as beneath him, he made himself weaker rather than stronger. He recalls what he thought at the start of the issue, that death does not like to be cheated. He then adds that perhaps, with the right people, it can be defeated...
The purpose of this issue is laid bare within the first few panels. Marvel assumes we need to be told that the Spider-Man in Age of Ultron is Doc Ock, due to the fact that Bendis wrote the series before Superior. This frustrates me as I feel this dates the series. It would have been much better to leave Spidey's identity ambiguous so we're left guessing if it's really Peter or if it's Otto fooling us as well as the other heroes.There are also points in the main series that make this issue's claims questionable. Would Otto really have the strength, both physically & mentally, to continue pretending to sound like Peter after being tortured by the Owl & Hammerhead in AoU #1?
Having said all that, this issue is still worth reading. Christos Gage writes Otto more in line with Christopher Yost's characterisation than Dan Slott's, which means that Otto is given more layers than normal. His reaction to Ultron's conquest of Earth is surprisingly interesting, though very in character. I found Otto's character arc here to be satisfying. Seeing him arrogantly disregard Stark's plan and fail to take Ultron down is great to read. Otto starts out with the belief that Spider-Man was made weak by his dependence on his allies, only to realise through his failure that it's part of why Spidey always won. The only problem here is that, unless the heroes somehow maintain their memories when they prevent this from happening, the events here will be rendered irrelevant to the main series of Superior.
Dexter Soy provides some fantastic artwork. the colour palette reminds me of Declan Shalvey's work on Venom, and that's absolutely a good thing. The characters & the locations parallel each other nicely. Seeing Horizon Labs decimated helps to showcase the personal repercussions of Ultron's rule. I really enjoyed the action sequence between SpOck & the Ultron Sentinels. It's also not hard to find the Spider-Bot-possessed Ultron Sentinels ridiculously awesome!
If this issue had truly been nothing more than a shallow attempt to fully tie the Superior Spider-Man in with Age of Ultron, I would have had no qualms in saying that you could skip it and not miss anything. But thankfully Gage uses the opportunity to "weave" some interesting character work with Otto that makes this issue well worth a look...