This one comes to us from Blake Nail.

Well, Spider-Man has done it again. The recent news of Marvel losing the rights to the character has left many faithful fans distraught. Even when Marvel announced its new shows (She Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and Moon Knight) last weekend at the D23 Expo, the comments on Instagram were littered with cries for Spider-Man’s return. As usual, with the reboot question hanging in the air, the debate rises up again: Who did it best? Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland? Personally, it’s a close tie between Tobey and Tom, with a slight lean more towards Tobey … but that’s just me. In the mix of all this Spider drama there is another Spider-Man we are forgetting, one who goes unnoticed and unknown by the masses, yet he is far superior.

Doctor Octopus is one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes. Not only was he well-known in the comics and the television cartoons, but he also made his big screen blockbuster appearance in Sam Raimi’s film Spider-Man 2 as the main villain. In 2013, Dan Slott’s ten-year run on The Amazing Spider-Man comic series concluded with the death of Peter Parker and the rise of Doctor Octopus, who had taken over Peter Parker’s body. Now rid of his damaged brain and extra metal arms, Doctor Octopus decided to become something better. With the identity, memories, and thoughts of Parker, he created a plan to be greater than him. He chose to become the Superior Spider-Man!

Jump from 2013 to today, and The Superior Spider-Man is back again, only this run is being written by Christos Gage. It’s the same idea, except Doctor Octopus is now in a clone Peter Parker body. He was given a new identity, yet still feels the past gripping him. He now has the body and mind of a superhero, yet still feels like he is a villain. He had his Damascus Road conversion, yet still feels like he is waiting for the scales to fall off. He can’t see who he has now become. His enemies, who used to be his villainous friends, bring up his past to mock him. (Which is also an experience not unlike Paul’s, post-conversion, who attempted to befriend to the Christians he had been trying to hunt down. They weren’t so trusting at first either.)

Other superheroes like Doctor Strange and Hawkeye show up and make it known they don’t have faith in Doctor Octopus’ new identity. But he is quick to remind them how they started out, as a drunk and a criminal, respectively. The power of a new identity changed them, so why couldn’t it change him? As the series develops, so does the Superior Spider-Man. In the beginning, he has to phone a friend to discern the ‘right’ decisions, the ones that fit his identity as a ‘superhero’ or Peter Parker. Over time, the identity grows on him and without trying he finds himself leaning into his new identity and becoming the superhero he already was.

From Doctor Octopus to Peter Parker, villain to superhero, hated to loved, destroying the city to saving it. A new identity is what comes before any type of change. Even when the law reminds one of past trespasses: a relationship that could have been reconciled, a comment that could have gone unsaid, the marriage you walked out on, the family you shattered. Or maybe the world you tried to destroy and would have, if it weren’t for the Avengers. The gospel truth is still present and waiting for you so you can web sling through the city freely, wearing your new identity proudly.

Image credits: Marnie Joyce