There has never been a shortage of Spider-Man comics released on a monthly basis. In recent years the Spider-Man franchise has exploded as more Spider-Men and Spider-Women have appeared. The appearances of Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen in particular caught on with fans as both characters have become fan favorites. Another character that had a solid following was Otto Octavius’ Superior Spider-Man. Superior Spider-Man was well-received during its time on the shelf it ran its course and the real Peter Parker returned as Spider-Man. But even as the series ran its course Marvel stealthily announced Superior Spider-Man would return over the weekend bringing with it the big question of “Why was it brought back?”
There is no doubt that this is a good time to be a Spider-Man fan. Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley have started a well received run on Amazing Spider-Man. Sony and Marvel released a Spider-Man: Homecoming under the MCU umbrella and will soon release Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse starring Peter Parker and Miles Morales. There have been several long running Spider-Man cartoons for kids to get into the character and his world. And just this weekend an incredibly well received Spider-Man video game was released and is already breaking records for the PS4 and Marvel.
When you look at all that it is clear that not even the Avengers or X-Men as groups can touch how dominating of a figure Spider-Man is to Marvel’s entire entertainment line. But even with that popularity as a long-time Spider-Man it is tough to see why Superior Spider-Man is returning since that version of the character is in the past. Even Dan Slott, the creator of Otto Octavius as Superior Spider-Man, positioned the character to return to the Doctor Octopus persona when he ended his run on Amazing Spider-Man. That was actually a fitting role as Doctor Octopus was the persona that Otto created and evolving it to being Superior Octopus made sense to his character’s development over the last decade.
This history for Otto makes the move back to Superior Spider-Man an even odder decision by Marvel as it does not make logical sense to from a character perspective. By going back to being Superior Spider-Man all Otto is confirming is that he can never be better than Peter Parker. No matter what Otto accomplishes as Superior Spider-Man, at the end of the day he is just chasing the legacy that Peter has created just because he wants to try to prove he is a better Spider-Man.
While some fans may end up believing that, that will never be the case for the majority of the Spider-Man fanbase. Instead Otto will just be looked at as a spinoff character for only hardcore fans rather than a character with his own merits that gives readers a reason why he stands out from other Marvel characters. That would not be the case if Marvel decided to explore Otto in his own Superior Octopus series, which is getting a one-shot before Superior Spider-Man begins.
And it is not like there aren’t similar cases of villains getting successful ongoings of their owns. Deathstroke is one character that has found success going from ultimate villain for the Teen Titans franchise to a fan favorite anti-hero. Marvel even has their own proof with how successful Venom has been as he has starred in ongoings and mini-series’ for them in the last decade. There is no reason after all of Otto Octavius’ development during Dan Slott’s that he could create a strong following as the Superior Octopus. The only thing stopping that is there being no confidence in exploring long-term how Otto as the Superior Octopus can go from villain to redeemed anti-hero.
What makes this announcement of Superior Spider-Man’s return even more confusing is the fact that we will now have three characters going by the name of Spider-Man in the main Marvel continuity. It had already become a bit of a stretch that in the current Marvel Universe both Peter Parker and Miles Morales are active as Spider-Man at the same time. Adding Otto Octavius to that group just dilutes the iconic name of Spider-Man. And that is not even counting characters like Scarlet Spider, Spider-Gwen/Ghost Spider, Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew and Spider-Girl/Anya Corazon, to name a few, that are active Spider-Man related characters.
Otto Octavius getting his own Spider-Man series is made even more surprising and confusing given the fact that Marvel has yet to announce their plans for Miles Morales. Sure, Miles is appearing as Spider-Man in Champions and Spider-Geddon but in both those titles he is one of a larger cast of featured superheroes. With Miles fan following on the continued rise as Sony release Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse it is head scratching he has yet to be given an ongoing after Brian Bendis left Marvel.
At the end of the day Marvel can release whatever comics they want. But with how many different Spider-Man titles there are on the market this is just a step back for Otto Octavius’ character. This decision throws out all the potential that was set-up for Otto Octavius as the Superior Octopus to be explored from a villain and anti-hero perspective. Now Otto Octavius is just positioned as an uncreative character that will live in Peter Parker’s shadow as long as he goes by the name Superior Spider-Man.