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Comicscape: Amazing Spider-Man #700

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Comicscape: Amazing Spider-Man #700

One More Play

By Joel Rickenbach     December 28, 2012
Source: Mania.com

A few months ago I wrote about the state of Amazing Spider-Man. The book was in the middle of an interesting arc called Alpha, in which Peter Parker must deal with a new super hero with unlimited power that he accidentally created. This newly minted super powered High School-er had all of the power, but none of the responsibility. Besides being a story worth seeking out, the reason for the article was to take stock of where Spider-Man was currently at as a character. We were a few years removed from the One More Day fiasco, and Dan Slott (and mostly Humberto Ramos) had emerged as the permanent voice of Spidey after almost a year of rotating writers and artists. I didn't think Slott was knocking every issue out of the park, but he was a nice, consistent, guide for who Peter Parker is and where Spider-Man was going. Even then there were rumblings of something big in store for the web slinger, but isn't there always?

Despite all comic book reading logic, as this big shake up got closer and closer, fans started to panic. The end of Spider-Man's 50th anniversary year was drawing nigh, and that big fat issue #700 was just going to make it on to shelves for the last week of the year. It didn't help that Dan Slott said he was going into hiding after #700 hit stands, as he anticipated fan reaction to be less than favorable. It turns out his flair for the dramatic may not have been as over the top as many of us thought. Once Amazing Spider-Man #698 was released, most fans could see the writing on the wall, and in anticipation of what was to come, began to revolt. The last few pages of ASM #700 leaked in advance, and it was widely reported that Slott received death threats in response. Now, a death threat is no laughing matter, but given that aforementioned comic book reading logic, it seems rather ridiculous, and smacks of hype. Yet, hype or not, ASM #700 has definitely stirred the pot, and is worth some examination.

The setup (Spoilers for ASM #698-#699): In short, it's the old switcheroo. Throughout Slott's run on ASM, he has chronicled the deteriorating health, and world dominating desperation, of Dr. Otto Octavius, AKA Doctor Octopus. So much so that one begins to get the impression that Slott is not-so-secretly trying to give Doc Ock the nod as Spider-Man's A-1 super villain, usurping the mighty Green Goblin. ASM #698 opens with Doc Ock incarcerated, and hooked up to an iron lung, with only days, possibly even just hours, to live. We follow Peter Parker on a typical web-slinging jaunt through the city, but his inner monologue and interactions with supporting cast seen a bit off. To make a long story short- Doc Ock's last request is for Peter Parker (not Spider-Man) to come to his death bed. Peter does, and during their few moments alone, he reveals that somehow they have switched bodies. Otto Octavius' mind is in Spider-Man's body, and Peter Parker's mind is inhabiting the dying husk of Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock refreshingly says he will not reveal how he did it, and leaves Peter to die in his all but deteriorated body. The majority of ASM #699 is Peter desperately trying to use every last ounce of strength in Doc Ock's body to escape prison, and somehow reverse the body switch before it's too late. Along the way Peter figures out how the Doc did it thanks to some shared memories and wonky science. I was really hoping the "how" would be something simple, shocking and brilliant, but instead it's overly convoluted, and involves some past storylines that I thought were decidedly less than. Of course, it doesn't really matter, Spidey will find a way to reverse the curse by the end of the gigantic issue #700.

Amazing Spider-Man #700 (Beware, spoilers!): Well, it turns out Spidey doesn't find a way to switch his and Doc Ock's bodies back, and Peter dies along with the Doc's crippled shell, meanwhile Dock Ock has a new lease on life inside thirtysomething Peter parker. That's it, that's the big kahuna everyone has been getting their knickers in a twist about. It is a bit more deep than that though-- during Peter's last moments as Doc Ock, he uses their linked minds to make the Doc feel every experience and emotion he has felt during his life-- The death of Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy, the constant hardship of living life as Spider-Man etc. This rush of experience breaks Octavius down, and makes him realize what life has been like on the other side of the coin. He pledges to Peter that he will live out his time as Peter Parker/Spider-Man honoring the way of life Peter has lived, and will do the right thing. It's a fascinating idea, and one I wish got a lot more play in this three issue arc. I would be happy to see Peter's adventure trying to break out and stay alive as Doc Ock cut in half if it meant more time seeing Peter and Octavius gain a deeper understanding of one another. There's something profound about mortal enemies coming together, and finally learning who the other actually is, only to have that moment be fleeting, as one of them leaves this mortal coil. The issue ends up being a huge, can't miss moment for the Spider-Man legacy, but taken as a single issue it's not the blazing hot coal I thought it would be.

 

Now, let's get back to that comic book reading logic-- Any cries of injustice, forum ranting, or hand written notes wishing for the writer's demise are wholly ridiculous. If you've been reading comics for any length of time then you know how this works. It's not permanent, and the idea that one of the big two publishers would actually kill off their biggest character is laughable. That, of course, speaks to the larger issue at hand-- can we enjoy a storyline even if we know it's in some way just a stunt? Will this body switching still have an effect on Spider-Man in twenty years? Probably not. So, all the Wednesday warriors and trade tyrants can hope for is a good story, one that may end up being a favorite despite its lasting impact. I know many who still hold J. Michael Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider-Man near and dear, even though that piece of Spider-lore has been all but forgotten in the book itself. Dan Slott has a huge opportunity with the set up he's given himself. Doc Ock has been an over-used and often laughable villain for awhile now. His motivations and dialogue come straight out of the ham-fisted golden age. Can Slott and Co. actually make us care about such a character? Will this new Superior Spider-Man shed the tag of "menace" that Marvel is already antagonizing readers with? Slott has a monumental task ahead of him, but he does have a slight ace in the hole-- this new status quo is at least somewhat new and interesting, and that hopefully will give us readers a good story. It's already got our attention, now if they can just walk that tightrope and eventually stick the landing. We know Peter Parker is coming back, but maybe, just maybe, in the end Doc Ock will bow out of continuity, and we'll actually be crushed. That would be cool.

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Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him on Twitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue. 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 11
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rogue188 12/28/2012 10:28:46 AM

So this will change Spiderman history for a year? I think it was way too hypeish. Why not do something organic that actually changes the character instead of focusing on a villain for 12 issues? I believe superhero deaths turn out to be crappy storylines. Death of Superman? Death of Captain America? Not the best reads. Idk. I won't be picking up Spidey issues anytime soon. I'll be reading Bendis' X-Men and Remender's Avengers titles. Blah.

jonniej1017 12/28/2012 10:54:34 AM

Its just a comic..they dont kno where else to go with these stories sometimes.. and sometimes they just go so far out on a limb and take HUGE risks!!!   Nothing wrong with that.. its a world where anything is possible so Im sure Peter will be back.. they just have to make sure they have ur attention first..

FerretJohn 12/28/2012 11:56:13 AM

So the Spiderman of the past year was actually Doctor Octopus in Peter Parkers body?  The Spiderman who trained Hope Summers in heroic ethics and got his @$$ handed to him yet still defeating Colossus and Magik in AvX, that Spiderman?  Who woulda thought Doc Ock capable of that kind of nobility.

lazerman 12/28/2012 12:02:07 PM

This is what I posted on my FACEBOOK Page about it and it sums up my feelings on this story:

Of all the ways to kill off a Super Hero in a Comic book, this one SURE must meet the dumbest idea . . ever.

Transfer brain of villain into hero body, and have Hero mind into Villain body.

THEN have Villain body killed thus leaving villain in hero body becoming new hero and original hero . . well. . dead.

And with that, the final issue of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is published . .

Dumb.

Wyldstaar 12/28/2012 2:28:59 PM

I don't understand all the nerd rage focused on this storyline.  The history of Spider-Man is littered with terrible ideas.  This is just the latest case of idiocy.  No reason to get worked up.

spiderhero 12/28/2012 2:56:41 PM

I'm not saying Slott is a horrible writer, but he's pretty horrible when it comes to Spiderman. I won't go on a crazy rage, in part b/c Slott has done such a fantastic job of making me not care for my favorite character. I dropped the title years ago. I've picked up an issue here & there and have groaned audibly several times each issue. So this latest absurdity is just one more reason for me to go back & read back issues for my Spiderman fix. After reading ASM #700 I may go back & re-read the clone saga to get the nasty taste of Slott out of my mouth.
 

hanso 12/28/2012 3:36:06 PM

 Nerds and their death threats.  Mofos need to get laid, that would stop all that nonsense.

jedibanner 12/28/2012 10:27:34 PM

The extant to go and threaten someone is unfortunatly not giving a good name to ''geeks'' around the world.

But does the story itself stand as a great story? IMO, totally not...but it's sure a one heck of a way to end the book, got to give them that.

SPOILERS

I found the way it ended for Peter Parker was so weak and predictable, it was more sad to see his demise end in such a simple, weak and unpleasant way, to end a historical book with such a boring and meaningless story.

Yes in comics nothing is final but to know that for the next year or two we are stuck wth such a boring character as Dock Ock in the body of PP and SM...weak weak weak.

OMD made me give up on Spidey books...now ASM 700 just doesn't make me care about Spider-Man.

Way.to.go.marvel

Bryzarro 12/31/2012 8:08:49 AM

 Well I have to say OMD pushed me fully away from Spiderman books.  I picked up the odd one or two but never jumped back in full.  I loved Spidey in AvsX so I started picking up more issues after that.  I'm not a fan of whats happening.  

 

Spoilers

It's not like its a new kid who has the powers, or another hero stepping in or even Kaine (aka Scarlet Spider).  But Doc Ock??  I mean I think Osbourne would be in my book Peter's greatest enemy.  Doc Ock in Spiderman's mind just seems a terrible move by Marvel.  I mean they should have made him just become a bad guy.  It makes no sense to try and live Parker's life.  Why keep the associations.  And I agree the way 700 ended was so terribly weak.  I mean I was chuckling looking at the flashbacks with Ock appearing as Peter.  It's just so foolish.  I know Peter will be back it's just a matter of when.  But seriously don't know what they were thinking on this one.  I personally have no interest is seeing where this goes but I admit I will keep an eye open for when they ditch this story line.  

Rant

I love my comics but it's a wonder why the non comic people make fun of the stories when they Kill a Batman but he is moving through time, Kill Cap but he is moving through time, Kill Superman but his body is a battery and just needed a charge.  Kill the Flash but he's still alive in the speed force.  I buy the death issues out of curiosity but never take any of it serious to be bitter.  It just helps me decide what comics i'm going to avoid going forward. End rant.  Sorry guys.

GreatOne 12/31/2012 6:44:35 PM

I think what gets the fans all riled up (self included) is the way Marvel keeps screwing with perhaps the most beloved character in all of comicdom.  It's obvious that Quesada is in way over his head and a talentless hack to allow these things to continue.  Yes, part of what makes the character of Peter Parker so great is that he is constantly getting crapped on.  Fine.  But it was real-life stuff that most people reading the stories could relate to.  Have MJ divorce/cheat on him?  Could accept that; happens.  Or have Parker screw around with the Black Cat.  But to make a deal with the devil is well beyond the scope of relatable normalcy, on any level (aside from the fact that it is completely stupid - give up your marriage so your 70/80 year old aunt can live another 5 - 10 years is beyond retarded, and something the character of Aunt May would never have allowed). 

And to top it off, they kill Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe so some other dopey charcter can take over.  Why not be creative enough to creat a super hero for Morales instead?

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