The Law Is A Ass #308: The Superior Spider-Man Isn’t
Okay, Marvel, let me see if I’ve got this straight? The bad guy wins. That’s how you celebrate the 700th issue of your flagship character, by killing him and letting the bad guy win?
Assuming you haven’t been in a cave and know about the events of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the subsequent issues of [[[The Superior Spider-Man]]] – and in case you have and you don’t: SPOILER WARNING – you know that Dr. Octopus put Peter Parker’s mind into his own dying body and his mind into Peter Parker’s body. You also know that Doc Ock’s body died with Peter’s mind still in it and that Ock, whose mind is in Peter’s body, is now proving that with his “unparalleled genius” he can be a superior Spider-Man. Well, I like a good redemption story as well as the next guy – and for me that’s the only thing that makes this storyline interesting; can Doc Ock actually find redemption by being a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker was?
So how’s that working out for him?
Well, there is a little matter of murder. See, in The Superior Spider-Man #5, Spider-Ock had defeated the super villain Massacre and was holding Massacre’s own gun to his head. And then shot him with it, first in the shoulder and then in the head.
As Massacre had been defeated, disarmed – literally as Sp-Ock shot him in the shoulder – and his bombs were deactivated, he was no longer a present threat to anyone when Sp-Ock gave him a head shot. And not the kind of head shot Hollywood wants. I may not remember everything from when I was a public defender, but I remember that shooting someone in the head is murder, unless it’s self defense. I also remember that self-defense requires that before deadly force can be used against a person, that person must pose an immediate threat of violence. Massacre, who had been disarmed by being deprived of the use of both his weapons and his arm, no longer posed a threat to anyone. Sp-Ock’s act was not self-defense. It was murder.
But let’s not let a little matter of murder stop us. After all, it didn’t seem to bother many people in the Marvel Universe that Sp-Ock committed murder. Nor did it stop anyone in Marvel editorial from letting Ock continue to be the hero of this book. And, after all, Ock was only just learning how to be Spider-Man, we can forgive a slight faux pas on his way to becoming a superior Spider-Man.
So, how’s that working out for him?
Let’s kind of breeze past how not too long after Sp-Ock murdered Massacre (only in comic books could you write a something as seemingly nonsensical as murdering Massacre and actually have it make sense) he put a massive beat down on Jester and Screwball. Look, if the Marvel Universe and Marvel editorial didn’t mind murder, what’s a felony assault or two?
Okay, to be fair, the Marvel Universe did react to Sp-Ock’s behavior. The Avengers grew concerned about the increasingly brutal behavior of the person they thought was Spider-Man and tested him. Their tests revealed that he was not a Skrull or under mind control. So, because he’s not a Skrull or under mind control and is Spider-Man, the Avengers decide to ignore his increasingly brutal behavior and let him off with a warning. Nice to know that the Avengers are now the Marvel Universe equivalent of a clichéd traffic cop making a stop on a beautiful woman.
The Avengers let Sp-Ock skate and so we skate, too. To The Superior Spider-Man #14.
Here we find Spi-Ock concerned about Shadowland, the Japanese fortress that the ninja assassin group the Hand built in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen and which the Kingpin now used as his headquarters. Sp-Ock decided it was time to do something about Shadowland. “Something” being to destroy the building with a giant Spider-Mech robot.
In the State of New York intentionally damaging another person’s property and causing more than $1,500 in damage (which destroying an entire fortress-sized building would cause, unless the Hand used really shoddy building materials) is Criminal Mischief of the Second Degree and a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Sp-Ock also admitted that the destruction of Shadowland was likely to kill anyone who was inside, including the Hobgoblin and the Kingpin. Such deaths, if they occurred, would have been second degree murder; that is causing a death of another person with the intent to kill that person. Sp-Ock excused this act by pointing out Hobgoblin and Kingpin were criminals, but that doesn’t matter. Even criminals have the right not to be murdered and people are prosecuted for killing criminals. Don’t believe me, ask yourself where is James “Whitey” Bulger today?
Of course, Sp-Ock had a plan for this. He reminded New York’s Mayor, J. Jonah Jameson, that Jameson once offered him the use of the Raft as his own personal HQ, if he would kill Alistair Smythe, who Jameson blamed for the death of his wife. Then Sp-Ock told Jameson that he’d reveal this fact, if Jameson didn’t sign some papers which gave Sp-Ock some after-the-fact authorization to destroy Shadowland. The fact that the Mayor of New York couldn’t really authorize Sp-Ock to vandalize another person’s property – not without lengthy court hearings beforehand – or to cause the death of Kingpin, Hobgoblin, or anyone else who happened to be in Shadowland at the time doesn’t seem to faze anyone and Sp-Ock got his authorization.
Now what Sp-Ock did here was to compel J.J.J, the mayor so a public servant, to perform an act that he wasn’t required to perform by threatening to reveal information which would subject J.J.J to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or which could cause criminal charges to be instituted against him. In most states that would be called extortion. In New York they call it by another word; Coercion in the First Degree, a class D felony. But a crime by any other word would still smell.
And that’s how it worked out for him.
You know that whole redemption thing I talked about earlier? Maybe Sp-Ock should stick to airline miles.