Dan Slott's continuing saga of the Superior Octopus, er, Spider-Man continues here in Volume 2. The storyline suggests that both Slott and Marvel are heavily invested in Octavius as the protagonist. I cannot disagree that there is a lot of room for expansion, however, perhaps the Peter Parker fragment in my mind has not been eradicated. It's who he'll always be. Peter Parker == Spider-Man. But the Superior Spider-Man is laudable in certain respects. The character's ambition is meritorious, even though the dude couldn't give a care in the world about NYC's hottest red-head this side of Emma Stone. Octavius' shortsightedness with respect to his allies is addressed outside of this book, in Superior Spider-Man #6AU, and it provides Slott yet another avenue to expand the character with. Slott teases you with the hopes of returning Peter, but then, just when you believe there to be hope, the dude slams the door in your face much like a jilted ex-girlfriend. Cardiac as a thread was fun; a 90's character resurrected with a purpose that leads Otto to permanently eradicating the Ghost Of Parker Past. With a "reset" like this, it provides Slott with an embarrassment of riches to work with; he can basically take 700 issues worth of issues (I see what you did there, and more if you add in all of the ancillary titles) and give them new perspective.
The artwork continues to be top-notch. Spider-Man is the company's flagship character, and it makes sense to devote some of the best resources to him. Ramos and Stegman continue to sharpen their tools with the character, much in the way Bagley, Larsen, and Immonen did when first handed the reins. I believe Stegman, with enough time under his belt, absolutely possesses the ability to reach the pantheon of great Spider-Man artists. Slott, Stegman, and Ramos exhibit great chemistry, and it shows. Panels leap out at you, and don't feel extraneous or trite. Every panel has a purpose. I would love to see Olivier Coipel take a spin with the character at some point.
I'm old school Spider-Man. My first issue was #252, the post-Secret Wars black costume. It's hard for me to grasp the concept of Peter Parker no longer being Spider-Man, however, I'm sure at some point, he'll return. That being said, I judge this title strictly on its own merits, and despite how I feel about the loss of Peter, that compulsory instinct to come back for more continues on. We look back at writers like Roger Stern, DeMatteis, Michelinie...Slott has an opportunity to join those folks as one of the best Spider-Man writers. JMS took the character in a terrific direction, but Slott has taken those building blocks and made his own mark. I am here, Slott. I haven't left yet. And you shouldn't either. You get one star knocked off because I miss the lame quips of Peter, but the die is truly cast. 4 stars - I like it.