Everything you need to know before Superior Spider-Man’s return

Christopher Baggett
Superior Octopus, Superior Spider-Man & Doctor OctopusMarvel Comics

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut, Marvel is bringing back the Superior Spider-Man. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.

Superior Spider-Man Returns has laid the groundwork for the character’s long-awaited…well, return. With his first appearance spinning out of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Superior Spider-Man has long been a fan-favorite Spider-Man character. 

The sordid for the Superior Spider-Man has ties to a number of massive Spider-Man events. These include the Spider-Verse and Spider-Geddon stories that inspired the Spider-Verse films and Secret Empire, the infamous comic arc that made Captain America a Hydra operative. 

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With Superior Spider-Man Returns setting the stage and the upcoming series putting Doctor Octopus back in the webs, it’s the perfect time to catch up on the story of the Superior Spider-Man. 

The Superior Spider-Man’s origins & backstory explained

There’s a surprising amount of backstory in a decade of comic books. Here’s everything you need to know about Superior Spider-Man before he makes his grand return. 

Superior Spider-Man #1 cover artMarvel Comics
Doctor Octopus cheats death by taking over Spider-Man’s body, striving to be his superior.

Who is the Superior Spider-Man?

Before he became Superior Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus spent decades fighting Spider-Man. However, he had no powers, and the repeated fights had damaged his body and his brain to their breaking point. 

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With his body and mind failing him, Doc Ock enacted a final master plan: take over Spider-Man’s body. He swapped their minds and took over Spidey’s life but also found himself wracked with Peter Parker’s memories – and his sense of responsibility. 

Before Peter died, he told Doctor Octopus he had to be Spider-Man going forward. Inspired by Peter’s death and the memories that he now had, Otto declared he would be more than Spider-Man – he would be a superior Spider-Man.

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Otto gives Peter back his bodyMarvel Comics
Knowing he couldn’t defeat Norman Osborn, Otto gives the body back to Peter Parker.

How Peter Parker took back his body

Otto spent the better part of a year in Peter’s body, operating as the Spider-Man of New York. While several people were suspicious, he still managed to elude their accusations in most cases, and many wrote off Peter’s changed behavior as just more of his eccentricities. 

During his time as Spider-Man, though, Otto genuinely grew a conscience. He became a superhero worthy of respect and admiration, despite still being a dick. Still, it felt inevitable that he would eventually have to give up his role as Spider-Man. Naturally, it was because of a woman. 

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Otto had fallen for his research assistant, Anna Maria Marconi. When Norman Osborn returned to lead his Goblin Nation and attack the city, Otto found he couldn’t outthink Norman, and Anna Maria’s life was in the balance. With no other recourse, Otto gave Peter back his body, knowing he was the only person who could defeat Norman

Otto hides his identity in the Living BrainMarvel Comics
Sensing his defeat, Otto hides his personality in The Living Brain while waiting for a new host.

How the Superior Spider-Man came back from “death”

As Peter later discovered, Otto had joined the Inheritor battle in Spider-Verse as the Superior Spider-Man. Peter attempted to trick Otto into believing he was a younger Spider-Man, but he eventually learned the truth – and realized it meant he was destined to lose. 

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Before his memories could be wiped, Otto created a failsafe, hiding a backup of his personality in his gauntlets. He hid the backup in an A.I. created by Anna Maria and then programmed it to seek a new host body after 100 days should Otto be killed.

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Otto opted not to take Peter’s body again and instead sought a new host. He found one in the New U cloning program, where he bargained to receive a clone of his original body. 

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Otto attacks Spider-Man in a clone bodyMarvel Comics
With help from the new Jackal, Otto restored his original body via cloning.

How Otto becomes Doctor Octopus again

As Doctor Octopus, Otto worked with New U under the new Jackal, who turned out to be Peter Parker’s clone, Ben Reilly. In addition to helping solve the problem of clone degradation, Otto worked to create a proto-clone based on Peter’s DNA and appearance that would not degrade. 

Spider-Man was obviously not a fan of his clone brother bringing the dead back, so he put a stop to New U. Ben tried to escape in the proto-clone, but Otto had planned for this, taking Ben out long enough to claim the body for himself. 

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In the new proto-clone body, Otto retained his and Peter’s memories and had Peter’s powers, calling himself Superior Octopus. In this identity, he would join Steve Rogers’ Hydra and lead a team of Hydra-oriented Avengers.

Superior Spider-Man Returns cover artMarvel Comics
Chasing a mystery from his past paves the way for Otto to return as The Superior Spider-Man.

What led to Superior Spider-Man’s return? 

Peter’s lingering memories and Otto’s experiences as the Superior Spider-man were too much for Otto. When the Inheritors returned in the Spider-Geddon event, he resumed the identity of Superior Spider-Man and attempted to embrace his heroic side again. 

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With Peter’s blessing, Otto moved to San Francisco under a new identity. However, he was then targeted by another Earth’s Norman Osborn. In order to outthink Osborn, he made a deal with Mephisto to get his original body back in peak condition. It led to a more ruthless Otto but at the cost of his memory of his time as Superior Spider-Man. 

That’s coming back to bite him in the ass in the upcoming series, where Otto’s callousness in his early days as Spider-Man will lead to a new threat coming to New York. The secret behind that threat lies in memories Otto must get back, and inevitably means a return to his days as Superior Spider-Man. 

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Otto learns about his Earth-1048 counterpartMarvel Comics
After learning what happened to Otto Octavius on Earth-1048, Superior Spider-Man leaves a spider-bot behind.

Is Superior Spider-Man in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2? 

With Doctor Octopus being the villain of the original Marvel’s Spider-Man, fans are already wondering if it’s paving the way for Insomniac to do a Superior Spider-Man. Though it seems unlikely Superior Spider-Man will appear, there is already a set-up for the character to debut.

During Spider-Geddon, Otto is tasked with recruiting the Spider-Man of Earth-1048. While there, he learns the fate of the Insomniac Games take on Doctor Octopus and the disease that is breaking down his body. 

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Though the two Ottos don’t meet, the 616 Otto does leave a Spider-Bot behind. It’s unknown what was in the Spider-Bot, but it could easily be used to set up how the Insomniac Otto found the means of taking over another body. 

That’s it for the history of Superior Spider-Man in Marvel Comics. If you want to know more, follow all our comics coverage or dive into our Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 guides and content:

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About The Author

Christopher Baggett started writing about comics on the Internet when he was 14 years old. Since then, he's written professionally for a host of sites, including ComicsBeat, Comic Book Resources, and The HomeWorld. He's most knowledgable about the legacy heroes of the '80s and '90s that he grew up with and believes Wally West is the best Flash - and he'll fight anyone over it. For tips, news, press and more, contact Christopher at christopher.baggett@dexerto.com