The Superior Spider-Man comic book series - in which Doctor Otto Octavius takes over Spider-Man’s body and fills the role of the webslinger for over a year - is simultaneously one of the most controversial and most beloved storylines in recent Marvel Comics history. The Superior Spider-Man’s powers aren’t any different from the standard Peter Parker version of Spider-Man, but Doc Ock’s attitude and personality offer a fresh take on the webslinger.
The tale of how Octavius comes to occupy the body of Spider-Man - and what happens to Peter Parker in the meantime - is about as complicated as it gets. It relies on countless sci-fi tropes that don’t make much sense outside of the world of comic books. What happens after, however - the rise and fall of the Superior Spider-Man, and the inevitable return of the original hero - is an epic journey that anyone can enjoy, regardless of their level of genre expertise. The die, as Otto would say, is cast!
It Isn’t Long Before He’s Offing Criminals In Public
As the Superior Spider-Man, Otto Octavius shows that he has no problem enacting horrific punishments on those who threaten the innocent - and the lengths to which he’s willing to go are quickly tested by a run-in with the villain known as Massacre.
Literally missing the part of his brain that grants empathy, Massacre is a cold-hearted monster seemingly incapable of reform. After the villain attacks the public, Octavius makes an extreme decision in the name of what he calls "justice." Surrounded by a crowd of onlookers, the Superior Spider-Man ends the villain as everyone watches.
None of the onlookers are willing to tell the police what happened. Having just witnessed the villain's fatal spree, they’re apparently fine with Spidey dispensing equally fatal retribution. Octavius sees this as a moral victory, but it’s also the first step on what proves to be a dark path for the would-be superhero.
The Superior Spider-Man Outfits Himself With Some Serious Upgrades
As long as he’s been a comic book character, Doctor Otto Octavius's bread and butter has been technology, and he certainly brings those inventive skills to the table as the Superior Spider-Man.
Far from content with Peter Parker’s simple spandex suit, Otto gets to work outfitting his costume with all manner of high-tech upgrades. He adds claws to the suit’s gloves, which serve the dual purpose of carving up opponents and implanting them with nano-sized spider-tracers. He also adds an impressive, Iron Man-like HUD to the spider-suit, and, in keeping with tradition, four mechanical arms.
Perhaps the most important addition to the new Spidey's arsenal is a legion of spider-bots. Employed in Orwellian fashion, the bots alert Octavius to misdeeds occurring anywhere in New York City - enabling him to be a more efficient Spider-Man at the cost of the public’s civil liberties.
He Loses Most Of Parker’s Friends, But Manages To Win Over J. Jonah Jameson
It doesn’t take long for those closest to Peter Parker - namely his ex-fiancée, Mary Jane Watson, and his Avengers teammates - to notice the hero's shift in personality, but even they don’t suspect someone else is occupying his body. As the Superior Spider-Man becomes more distant from these would-be allies, he forms a partnership with one of Parker’s greatest enemies: J. Jonah Jameson, recently elected as mayor of New York City.
When Alistair Smythe - the supervillain who slayed Jameson’s wife - attempts to escape from the prison known as the Raft, Jameson gives Octavius permission to take him out. The Superior Spider-Man is happy to comply, but then uses an audio recording of their conversation to coerce the mayor into aiding his vigilante efforts from within City Hall. This begins a begrudging partnership between the wallcrawler and the former publisher of the Daily Bugle.
Through It All, A Ghostly Remnant Of Parker’s Personality Remains - Until Doc Ock Purges Him Completely
When he begins his career as the Superior Spider-Man, Otto Octavius thinks that all he has left of Peter Parker are his memories, but that’s not exactly true. A ghostly remnant of Parker remains in the recesses of Octavius’s mind.
At first, Parker is forced to watch as Octavius uses his body to brutally beat D-list supervillains and commit public displays of retribution. Eventually, however, he discovers a way to influence the new Spider-Man.
Parker finds that if he concentrates his will, he can act as a conscience of sorts to Octavius - even stepping in at one point to prevent him from offing the mostly harmless Boomerang. It’s only a matter of time, however, until Doc Ock becomes wise to Parker’s lingering presence in his mind - and takes steps to wipe him out completely.