With "Superior Spider-Man" #31 clocking in at a whopping 64 pages, Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Giuseppe Camuncoli, John Dell, Terry Pallot and Will Sliney have a monster of a finale on their hands. Nevertheless, the issue manages to keep a fast pace and introduces a few exciting gamechangers as Peter rushes to mop up Otto's mess. "Superior Spider-Man" reaches a strong conclusion in its final issue, wrapping up most of Otto's loose threads and providing some devastatingly gorgeous renderings of New York City.
Needless to say, Peter is truly the highlight of this issue, not only for his return, but for his interactions with his supporting cast. Although his friends and family have had a difficult time putting their finger on what exactly about him had changed, they instantly recognize him when he's back in his own skin and their reactions are true to their characters, poignant, and occasionally hilarious. Nothing tops the four-panel sequence where Norman Osborn realizes who he's dealing with; it speaks to the familiarity the two have established throughout Spidey's decades-long history and reinforces the idea that it needed to be Peter that faced him in the end.
What's more, Slott and Gage set up a lot of potential for the return of "Amazing Spider-Man," but only after bringing the "Superior" arc full circle. They account for a lot of outside influences quickly and deftly by working in scenes with the Avengers and Miguel O'Hara, neatly keeping up with multiple subplots; only after this do they offer enticing hints of things to come, such as Osborne's new outlook on villainy. With the nice addition of the "Actions Have Consequences" epilogue, Gage offers more insight on the pedestrian side of Peter's life, allowing readers to glimpse MJ and Carlie's side of the story. This not only infuses pathos into Peter's return but also organically moves several pieces into place for "Amazing Spider-Man's" debut. Though there's a lot going on in this issue (and despite its mammoth size), the plot doesn't linger on events or pull focus too quickly. Slott and Gage's timing is nothing but just right and, because of this, they deliver a solid and engaging story.
However, a few subplots feel as though they slipped through the cracks. For instance, Anna Maria -- who was so integral to the "Superior" arc -- doesn't get a lot of closure here. While she does get a great action scene and a final moment that tugs at the heartstrings, she doesn't have a real sense of direction or purpose, at least not the way that MJ and Carlie do in this issue. What's worse, this sense of robbed potential comes across only because Slott has made her so damn likeable and interesting.
Additionally, Slott and Gage add a confusing dimension to Peter's return. In revealing his resurrection to Carlie, Peter tells her of a moment he shared with her when he was in Otto's body. However, that doesn't quite jive with how Slott set up his return, in that it seems as though Peter was always lurking in the back of Otto's consciousness. This distinction could use a lot of clearing up as it goes against the logic that Slott established over the "Superior" run, but it unfortunately gets dropped early on in the issue.
Giuseppe Camuncoli, John Dell and Terry Pallot end up tackling most of this issue, working on the main "Superior" story, while Will Sliney takes on the "Actions Have Consequences" epilogue. Camuncoli, with the help of inkers Dell and Pallot, does a fantastic job with the scenery; he gives New York City a gorgeous and intimate makeover, incorporating minute details into the buildings and the landscape. By paying such close attention to the city, he emphasizes the absolute destruction that Goblin has wrought. Although his city work is downright stunning, his figures look a little blocky and stiff. With the exception of Carlie and her neat-looking Goblin mutation, his characters end up simply unremarkable and -- at times -- messy for all of the extraneous lines he leaves in the facial work.
On the other hand, Sliney gives a much cleaner, personable turn to the characters with genuine facial expressions and excellent posturing; however, his version of New York City comes across as rather bland, with just enough detail to check out. Between the Camuncoli and Sliney, they manage to slip in a lot of references to older Spider-Man comics, from the POV shot of Peter reaching to catch Anna Maria to MJ's "you just hit the jackpot" stance. Most are subtly and tastefully done, culminating in a treat for longtime readers. Colorists Antonio Fabela and Edgar Delgado put the brightness back in Peter's life with a wide array of tones, from the fiery red destruction of New York City to the vibrant whites and tans of the city come morning.
A hefty issue, "Superior Spider-Man" #31 wraps the series in a fun and heartfelt way that will only entice readers to come back for more. Long-time fans of Peter Parker will love this nostalgia-riddled finale right down to the very last wisecrack.