Spider-Verse, Part 2: The Right Side Doesn’t Make You a Good Man

The Amazing Spider-Man (2014-) #10

If you browse the superhero genre casually, you might think that anyone with superpowers qualifies as a superhero.  For that matter, you may not even need powers; all you need is a suit, a name, and something cool that gives you the ability to fight baddies, and then people adore you, right?  Well, it’s not all that simple.  Just because you’re the one fighting bad guys, that doesn’t necessarily make you any better than them.

Doctor Octopus, also known as the Superior Spider-Man, learned that lesson . . . or so we thought.  At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Doctor Octopus took control of Peter Parker’s body.  Peter’s spirit was still present, though mostly muted, and he watched in horror as Doc Ock led a so-called rampage on crime, relying on brutal tactics and sheer arrogance to lead his crusade.  He was, to his credit, doing what he thought was right, even going up against old friends of his as part of his battle, but he wasn’t so heroic.  The Avengers shunned him, Peter was mortified at his actions, and he was eventually rejected as a hero. It’s a long story, but Peter eventually got his body back and the old Octopus was gone . . . until now.

That brings us to the present–ish.  As The Inheritors continue their hunt to drain all Spider-heroes in the multiverse of their life force, our Peter and his band of Spider-heroes hoping for a fighting chance are led to an unexpected place: the year 2099, where the Superior Spider-Man is building his own army, and has just recruited Miles Morales.

But it seems that Otto still hasn’t learned his lesson.  He leads with brutal tactics, even daring to suggest that they kill Silk, since her presence makes it easier for The Inheritors to find them.  He proclaims himself the leader of the spiders, and the death of those around him hardly seems to concern him, leaving us to wonder why he even bothers to fight in the first place–unless it’s because he knows that they’ll be out for him, too.

Spider-Verse is broaching many fascinating ideas and concepts.  The first part brought up ideas about fate, providence, and the multiverse, but this issue approaches a more Earth-bound idea.  It contrasts the humility of Earth-616’s Peter Parker with the sheer arrogance of Otto Octavius.  Stories featuring the Superior Spider-Man have always left readers with a bit of a conflict; after all, he’s a Spider-Man, so doesn’t that mean he’s a good guy?  He’s on the right side.  But on the other hand, his tactics are not those of a hero.  We expect, then, for him to grow beyond those harsh tactics, as stories surrounding heroes have done for decades.  But he hasn’t.  So is he a hero?  Can he in any way, shape, or form ever be considered a hero?

The answer that Slott and Co. lead us toward is a resounding no.  But the fact does remain that he is not fighting with The Inheritors.  He doesn’t want them to win; that would mean death for him.  So he is, technically speaking, on the correct side, but that doesn’t make him a hero.  It doesn’t even make him a good person, and certainly not an ally.

That brings up an important Christian principle.  There are those who might say that they are with us, but their actions say otherwise.  God even gives us a blueprint in Scripture for dealing with those who are blatantly sinning within the church (1 Corinthians 5) and tells us that enemies will, at times, come from within our own ranks (Acts 20:29).  If someone is acting with harsh or sinful tactics or actions, then we’re to confront that, no matter what side we’re on.  And just because we’re on the right side doesn’t mean that our behavior is automatically what it should be.

Content Warnings

Language: 2 misuses of God’s name, 2 censored profanities

Sexuality: Partial nudity from an Inheritor’s costume

Age Recommendation: 15+

Logan Judy
Logan Judy is a Christian blogger and science fiction author with a Batman complex. At Cross Culture, Logan writes about film, comics, cultural analysis, and whatever else strikes his fancy. In addition to his work at Cross Culture, Logan also blogs and podcasts at A Clear Lens. You can find him tweeting about Batman, apologetics, and why llamas will one day rule the world, @loganrjudy.
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