Review by Frank Plowright
Although packaged with a modified design and internally labelled volume one, there’s not much difference between this and Friendly Fire. We still have Chris Yost writing, and it’s still Doctor Octopus’ intellect possessing Peter Parker’s body, supposedly resulting in a far more effective, and infinitely more arrogant, Spider-Man. Because they don’t match his intelligence, Doc Ock considers pretty well every other superhero a moron, and Chris Yost plays well with that in an opening chapter that begins with the very effective shock of him laying out Dagger. Narrative captions don’t begin appearing until halfway through the episode, so there’s surprise after surprise, and knowing it’s Doc Ock, results in a credible disbelief.
Unfortunately, the remainder of Yost’s story doesn’t match that opening section. He handles Ock’s inflated self-importance very well, but the intended emotional resonance of returning a couple of people important to Peter Parker is unconvincing, and the Jackal’s villainy doesn’t have much to bolster it.
The actual team-up aspect is pretty well neglected throughout, the subtitle proving to have greater weight than the title. Yes, it’s a hoary old cliché from back in the day that whenever superheroes team-up they fight each other first over a misunderstanding, but the only real team-up to follow is a half-hearted one with Scarlet Spider. Robert Rodi is more imaginative via introducing a new character, one that piques Ock’s scientific curiosity, but the luddite villainy, although well established, fails to captivate, and the shredding of romantic ideas is heavy handed. As time passes, how student Sylvia Prell is transformed will increasingly look like lazily convenient writing, as Rodi doesn’t mentioned anything about how the Inhumans’ Terrigen Mists are circling the planet and changing people.
Rodi’s story is drawn by Michael Del Mundo (sample page), who’s the most interesting artist presented in Versus. David Lopez, Marco Checchetto, and In-Hyuk Lee are all decent enough superhero artists, but traditional, whereas Del Mundo’s art has an entirely different feel to it. He’s far more intuitive about creating an atmosphere, helped by colouring most of his own work, and some of his page designs are astounding.
Beyond Del Mundo and the occasionally nice insight into Dock Ock, too much of the content is generic and unmemorable. Will matters improve in Superior Six?