Thursday, December 27, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man #699 – 700 Review

Amazing Spider-Man #699 – 700 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

A few weeks ago I reviewed Amazing Spider-Man #698. Back then I was excited about the possibility of his friends and colleagues figuring out what had happened and restoring him. But #699 – 700 put the nail in that coffin. While the two issues are Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus’ most intense fight in their long history a new era is ushered in.

GOOD: The stakes have never been higher. With Doctor Octopus parading around as Peter Parker, the real Peter Parker worries that he can hurt one of his friends or worse, his family. How Peter, trapped in Doctor Octopus’ failing body, held in a prison under the sea breaks free to take on his old enemy one more time was great. Peter Parker dies but does outsmart his enemy one last time by using the mind link Otto used to swap minds to make Doctor Octopus not just relive but experience firsthand all of Peter struggles. In that moment Doctor Octopus dedicates himself to being Spider-Man. I did like how each man was starting to act like the other as though the brains inside those bodies were asserting their original personalities.

BAD: While the storytelling is brilliant and Dan Slott has done a lot to put his mark on Peter Parker in the Spider-Man title in general, he may have painted himself into a corner with this one. Peter’s death, and the affirmation of it him in heaven, seems like a permanent state. The fans have already had a really bad reaction to this news. Dan Slott has gotten death threats. While I think it’s super stupid to make death threats to a writer… I get it. I was around when it turned out a clone was the real Peter Parker and then the writers quickly reversed that and when enough time passed, they brought the clone back as the Scarlet Spider.

But I think Peter Parker isn’t going to be the only casualty this time. Just like with the clone storyline, I think the readers will leave in droves. For Spider-Man, Marvel NOW begins with the fans’ betrayal. At least that’s how the readers will see it. Peter Parker is dead and no one knows it and we don’t get any chance to say goodbye or grieve with his family and friends. Instead his life is simply been hijacked by his greatest enemy and no matter how well he does as Spider-Man people may never catch on to the fact he’s not the real Peter Parker. At least in the Ultimate title, we got to see the grieving and watch the family and friends say goodbye – but here someone simply takes over.

Yes eventually some writer will find a way to bring Peter Parker back but the issue seems to indicate that his soul is in heaven which means that it is at peace. One of the only frames of reference I have for this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer once died and was brought back to life but the transition from heaven to life was painful and jarring. Or some writer could just suggest that Peter was always in his own body but cut off from his mind so he didn’t truly die. I don’t know where soul goes in the Marvel Universe or if brain swapping also means soul swapping, but somehow Peter’s soul also inhabited Doctor Octopus’ body. So if a writer suggests that, it dishonors Peter’s soul going to heaven.

And I’m a little disappointed in the supporting cast. Back in issue 698, Captain America asks Spider-Man if you’ll be okay and he says he won’t give Doctor Octopus a second thought. In hindsight I’m surprised no one questioned him on that comment or even traded a look. I’m disappointed that he talked out of character couple of times to Mary Jane and she never caught on. In a world that includes aliens, gods, and a liberal amount of mind control, Mary Jane never thinks to herself, “Something is very wrong with Peter.” Also, I understand Peter’s plan but he could’ve guided the robot straight to the media and simply announced, “Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus’ minds have been switched.” At least he could have done that as a backup plan. That way, at least the thought would be on his friends as well as the Avengers’ radar.

I’m probably going to get the first two issues of Superior Spider-Man because I ordered them before I knew that this was going to be Peter Parker’s final issue. But after that? I don’t think I’m coming back until Peter Parker is Spider-Man again. But who knows? It could turn out to be an interesting ride but it still doesn’t take sting out of Peter Parker’s death.

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