So the Internet is all a-buzz right now with the big revelation from Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man #700, written by Dan Slott. This issue ends Amazing Spider-Man and Superior Spider-Man #1 will be released next month. It’s even earned Slott death threats. Seriously? Grow up, people. I don’t care how bad the story is (and it’s pretty bad), but at the end of the day it’s still just a fucking comic book.
First off, if you plan on buying this issue and haven’t yet, then I’d like to save you some money and time by advising you not to. Seriously, just don’t do it. Especially for the price Marvel is charging (¥700 on my Marvel Comics iPhone app).
Second, if you’re a glutton for punishment and still want to buy the issue, then you should probably stop reading right now. Because otherwise, I will spoil the ending for you.
In other words, spoilers follow, so turn away now.
Has everyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled left? Okay, good. So if you haven’t already heard, this story involved a dying Doctor Octopus pulling a Freaky Friday with Peter Parker and swapping minds. And when Ock’s body died, Peter was still in it. Octavius, meanwhile, has been influenced by what remained of Peter’s consciousness and has all of Peter’s memories. He’s now decided he’ll be a better Spider-Man than Peter ever was.
Does this sound like one of the dumbest ideas ever? Yes, it is. And if anyone truly believes editor Steve Wacker when he says this is the “definitive end” for Peter Parker, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
This is even more reason why the death threats are pointless. Again, it doesn’t matter how bad this story is. Especially because it will be reversed in about a year.
Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC rebooted or revamped many of their heroes. Superman got a brand-new origin in the 80s and was killed in the early 90s. Barry Allen (the Silver Age Flash) died in Crisis on Infinite Earths and was replaced by his nephew, Wally West. Batman’s back was broken and he was replaced by Jean-Paul Valley, also known as Azrael. Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern, went insane and became a villain called Parallax only to later redeem himself by sacrificing his life to save the world, and he was then replaced by a new Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Oliver Queen, Green Arrow, was atomized in an explosion and succeeded by his son, Connor Hawke.
Superman is still alive (with yet another new origin). Bruce Wayne is still Batman and in his physical prime. Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, and Oliver Queen are all alive as well, their successors nowhere to be seen. Superman and Batman were only intended to be temporary stories, but the point still stands.
Marvel has done similar things as well. Steve Rogers was shot and killed a few years ago, only to be resurrected. During the time he was dead, his sidekick from WW2, Bucky (who was also dead up until a few years ago), took over the Captain America role. In the mid-90s, it was revealed that the villain Kang had been controlling and manipulating Stark for years and Tony was killed, replaced by a time-displaced, teenage version of himself. This was reversed as well, ironically enough with another reverse-death. Marvel killed the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in their Onslaught crossover, promptly rebooted them in a new universe, and after one year, brought them all back into the main universe (and Tony Stark was back to being his adult self).
And it’s not the first time Marvel has done something like this to Spider-Man specifically. This has a bit of backstory. In the 70s, Marvel did a story where Spidey villain, the Jackal, cloned Peter’s dead girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. He also cloned Spider-Man and the two battled briefly. One of the Spider-Men died, although there was no way of knowing for certain if it was the real deal or the clone who died. But readers generally assumed it was the clone. Fast-forward twenty years and Marvel decides to do a story where the clone survived. And in a twist, it’s revealed that not only did the clone (now calling himself Ben Reilly in his civilian guise and swinging through the city as the Scarlet Spider) survive, but he was actually the real Peter Parker. And the guy fans had been reading about for twenty years, the guy who married Mary Jane Watson, he was the clone.
The story dragged out for years and it ended with Peter losing his powers and deciding to leave New York with a pregnant MJ. Ben, meanwhile, took on the Spider-Man identity. That was to be the “definitive end” of Peter Parker—he would ride off into the sunset with the woman he loved and a baby on the way, no longer burdened with his powers.
Despite how similar Ben and Peter were, there was still a massive fan backlash. Although people generally liked Ben, they hated the story and they didn’t want him as Spider-Man. Marvel responded by resurrecting Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, and revealing that he’d been behind the whole thing. He revealed Ben was the clone and then killed him, saying it was basically a way to screw with Peter’s life. MJ miscarried and Peter got his powers back. Everything was back to normal. In fact, Marvel took it a step further by a few years later revealing that Aunt May (who was presumed to have died a few years earlier) was actually alive and the woman who died was just a really good actress (seriously). This and more was detailed in The Life of Reilly, which I recommend reading as it’s excellent.
In other words, the last “definitive end” for Peter Parker was neither definitive nor was it an end. So when Wacker tells me this is the “definitive end,” I find it hard not to laugh. Of course it’s not the end, and no way is Marvel going to stick with such a convoluted background as the new status quo for the character. Imagine the description you’d have to go through to explain this to new readers: Peter Parker, bit by a radioactive spider and transformed into the Amazing Spider-Man, had his mind swapped into the body of his arch-enemy. Now, the former Doctor Octopus, Otto Octavius, is in Peter’s body and has dedicated his life to being a better hero than Peter ever was—a Superior Spider-Man!
I think anyone picking up a comic and reading that would put the issue down and then use the money they would have spent on the comic to buy some aspirin.
I will tell you exactly what will happen, and I’m very confident in my prediction. The sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man will hit theaters in the summer of 2014. No word yet on the title, but I imagine it will probably be The Spectacular Spider-Man. Let’s assume it will be. Sometime in 2014, probably the spring, there will be a story involving Peter’s consciousness surviving. It will end, probably with Doc Ock “heroically sacrificing” himself, realizing that Peter should be allowed to live his life and Peter will be restored, mind and body, with no memory of what Ock did in his body. Superior Spider-Man will be cancelled, and (assuming the movie will be called Spectacular Spider-Man) Marvel will release Spectacular Spider-Man #1, a launch that will be conveniently-timed for the release of the movie.
So drop the pitchforks. If you want to send a message to Marvel and Slott about what a bad idea this is, then just don’t buy Superior Spider-Man. Or Avenging Spider-Man for that matter, as it will also feature Ock-Spidey. Don’t pay Marvel for the “privilege” of reading terrible cash-grabs.