Anghus Houvouras reviews The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avenging Spider-Man #15.1…
Finally, after weeks of speculation and Internet rage the final issue of Amazing Spider-Man hit the stands (#700 for those keeping count). Underneath the hyperbole and the irrational anger towards writer Dan Slott is arguably one of the most insane and sadistic plot twists ever introduced into a mainstream comic. That shocking twist ending you’ve been reading about online is not only true, it’s delivered with brutal efficiency.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention: Doctor Octopus has successfully switched bodies with Spider-Man leaving the soul of Peter Parker imprisoned in the dying body of his nemesis Otto Octavius. Not wanting to die anonymously in the body of an evil villain, Spider-Man constructs a plan to reverse the process. And in almost any conventional comic story the ending would have been pretty obvious: Spider-Man wins, reverses the process, and gets his life back. But the thing is… he doesn’t. At the last minute, just when you think your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is going to save the day, he ends up being bested by Octavius and dies.
It’s a brutal end for one of Marvel’s most iconic characters. I can understand why fans of the character would be agitated by his demise. There’s no fourth quarter comeback or reprieve. No world being saved or great sacrifice being made for the common good of mankind. No alien invasions being thwarted or world ending scenarios being averted. Instead, it’s a great hero being bested by a superior intellect and dying horribly.
And all I kept thinking is: “Damn… that’s awesome.”
Awesome because it’s bold. If the Internet hadn’t ruined the surprise for everybody, this would have been a jaw dropper for anyone reading it. To be fair, it still kind of is. Even knowing the twist I still found myself wide eyed and laughing that Marvel had the stones to do something so wild.
Trust me, I know that Peter Parker won’t be gone forever. As I mentioned in previous columns on the topic, comic books have reset buttons that get punched with the frequency of a French mime. So no matter how bold this storyline is, it’s still easily reversible. Still, I enjoyed this story and I like the potential to see where it goes next.
The storyline is continued almost immediately into Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 which serves as a bridge between ASM #700 and the new Superior Spider-Man #1 out on January 9th. The issue sees the new Spider-Man with Octavious in the driver’s seat doing a little searching (both literally and figuratively) as he tries to reconcile all of Peter Parker’s memories while looking through an old lair for some enhancements. Octavius is attacked by his own defense system. During the battle he remembers one of the universal truths of his life: no matter how smart he was, he always lost to Spider-Man. He also realizes that Parker was limited by his conscience and never realized the full potential of what Spider-Man could really be. Now, out for redemption, Octavius designs a new suit with some fancy gadgets to try and become the hero he always wanted to be. His mind, Spider-Man’s body, and a whole lot of shiny new toys to play with.
There are so many lingering questions remaining. What will happen to Parker’s loved ones? There’s a mad scientist holed up in his brain, but his supporting cast has no idea. How will the other heroes in the Marvel Universe react to a newer, decidedly less humorous wall crawler? These are the kind of things that have me interested in Superior Spider-Man. There’s a lot of potential for good stories here, if you’re willing to take a risk and enjoy the unexpected.
Comic book characters present a unique challenge for writers due to the limitations of the stories they can tell. Sure, there’s alternate universe stories and ‘What If?’ scenarios that let writers play with the foundations of the most iconic superheroes, but the main series limit the creative talent with the kind of stories that can be told. I for one applaud Marvel Editorial for allowing this level of craziness to happen in continuity.
Bravo, you crazy bastards.