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Feeling Future Shock in Superior Spider-Man

Writer Dan Slott checks in on bringing Spider-Man 2099 to the present for a confrontation with Doc Ock!

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Superior Spider-Man #17 preview art by Ryan Stegman

By Paul Montgomery

Newly outfitted with a Peter-Parker-shaped chassis, Dr. Otto Octavius considers himself a hero of tomorrow, graciously catering to the wretches of today. Next month, however, the self-proclaimed SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN sees a new challenger enter his five-borough web, a new pretender to his legacy, as Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, returns in a bona fide clash of the ages from Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman.

Following the Age of Ultron and the arrival of the All-New X-Men, the Marvel time stream shudders from all variety of temporal hiccups. This upheaval in the so-called “Heroic Age” plays out in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #17 and beyond. What level cataclysm could draw O’Hara to the modern day? Only time—and certainly not series writer Dan Slott—will tell.

Superior Spider-Man #17 preview art by Ryan Stegman

For Slott, a Marvel staffer during the development of SPIDER-MAN 2099 over 20 years ago, the opportunity to usher the far-flung hero back to the present represents a long-time dream and promise made good. Though Slott pitched and sold an unused inventory story for the original series, he never truly got to play in the 2099 sandbox until scripting 2010’s “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions” video game.

“Spider-Man 2099 has always been a fun dichotomy,” he explains. “He’s the flip side of Peter Parker. As Miguel O’Hara he’s flippant and sarcastic. As Spider-Man, he’s silent, straight down to business. For Peter, becoming Spider-Man opened him up, allowed him to be funny and zany and wacky and quippy. Spider-Man 2099 is the exact opposite.”

Indeed, the Miguel O’Hara chronicled by creators Peter David and Rick Leonardi in the early 90’s represented a very different wall-crawler than readers found in the modern Peter Parker. A prodigy groomed from an early age, the brilliant geneticist often came off as arrogant, perhaps an inevitable byproduct of his single-minded ambition. Experiments toward reverse-engineering the original Spider-Man’s transformation ultimately led to the lab accident that imbued O’Hara with his incredible abilities.

Superior Spider-Man #17 preview art by Ryan Stegman

Though the origins of this new Spider-Man were partly accidental—a genetic fusion wrought by a vindictive assistant—O’Hara’s initial obsession with Peter Parker presents something of a link to the current Spider-Man, Otto Octavius, a similarly gifted thinker with an age-old fixation on the former host of his new body.

While hardly as taciturn as the new thorn in his side, Octavius shares O’Hara’s grave professionalism.

Superior Spider-Man #17 preview art by Ryan Stegman

“He’s the Superior Spider-Man; he doesn’t see the need for humor whatsoever,” says Slott of the high-minded Octavius. “Right now he’s at a point when he has no Peter Parker in his brain at all anymore. He’s really reverting to a hardcore Doc Ock way of doing things. He’s got his henchmen now, his secret base, giant spider robots. He’s still fighting the good fight, but he’s clearly doing so as Otto Octavius. There’s no hint of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”

So can one humorless loner from the future and one bodysnatching antihero from the present save the day for all seasons? 

“Is it so bad to have an egotistical hero?” Slott asks going on to point out perennial Avenger Clint Barton’s early days as Hawkeye. “Watch Robert Downey Jr.’s ‘Iron Man.’ Is he an egotistical hero? Yeah! ‘But he didn’t try to destroy the world two years ago.’ Well, you’ve got a point there.”

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #17 goes on sale September 4

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