Superior Spider-Man #25 continues to fire the various “Chekhov’s Guns” that Dan Slott spent so much time establishing throughout the entirety of the Superior Spider-Man title. Yet, with so many guns firing some of the moments get lost in the hail of gunfire. Storylines weave in and out of each other in a way that almost ensures that this is a book that readers will never be able to put down until the final page. This makes for a fun read but it also dampens some of the dramatics of the unraveling events.
As the final book in the “Darkest Hours” storyline, Superior Spider-Man #25 focuses more on the ongoing status quo of Doctor Octopus’s Spider-Man, without really featuring the titular character all that much, rather than the developing narrative surrounding the Venom symbiote. As a story involving Venom, this resolution feels like a bit of a letdown. Flash Thompson’s Agent Venom is essentially right back to where he began as he unceremoniously exits stage left. Overall, it was interesting to see the Venom suit be used as a way to trigger what could be the eventual reveal and downfall of Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man.
While the status quo for Venom might not have changed, the world of Superior Spider-Man won’t be the same after this issue. In this issue alone we have the return of ghost Peter, the citizens of New York City turning against Spider-Man, Carlie’s turn as the Goblin Monster, and the Avenger’s realization that Spider-Man is not what he appears to be. While I’m not quite sure about how I feel about Carlie’s turn to the dark-side (maybe), I’m quite excited to see how all these turns in the script develop in the “Goblin Nation” storyline that is about to launch. Hasn’t Carlie Cooper, fan or not, suffered enough as a result of being connected to Peter Parker?
Christos Gage’s writing seamlessly fits in with Slott’s Silver Age style of prose and finds a way to differentiate all the different voices of this book’s characters. Even Iron Man joins in on the action and is written in a fun and engaging way that makes him a welcome addition to Superior Spider-Man’s enormous cast of characters. For a book with as dark of subject matter as Superior Spider-Man has had, the book remains a light and fun book to read.
This tone does not work for all the moments displayed in Superior Spider-Man #25. Sequences that are either built up to or ended to quickly include two of the biggest developments for the book: the rejection of Spider-Man as a NSA analog by the people of New York City and the reveal that ghost Peter has been quietly biding his time to return. Both are logical developments for the series but are over and done with a bit too quickly. Surely the full reveal of Peter could have come at a time better fit for a full dramatic reveal and confrontation? Watching Peter slink back into the shadows of Otto Octavius’s mind is just a bit disappointing.
Despite all of this, Humberto Ramos turns in another exciting and stylized issue as only he can do. Of particular mention are his renderings of the Venom symbiote (a favorite of mine alongside Mark Bagley’s) as a voluminous mass of tentacles that swallows its host whole. Every page, action-packed or not, crackles with energy and personality. In just a page or two, Ramos clearly distinguishes between the body-postures of his penciled Peter Parker and the hunched-over, villainous Doctor Octopus/Spider-Man. Ramos’s Goblin designs are just as fun, particularly Goblin Knight’s pumpkin shoulder pads, though one has to wonder how Carlie’s Goblin Monster can see through her blinding facemask.
Superior Spider-Man #25 is another successful installment in the exciting series that is, perhaps, overstuffed with story. However, when the story is this twisted and exciting, who can complain?
All images from Superior Spider-Man #25: Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, Antonio Fabela & Veronia Gandini