FOR THE UNINITIATED: (In other words, the non-nerds who are scratching their heads raw right now) the 700th and final issue of Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man unveiled the outcome of the body-switching storyline revealed last month in issue #698: (btw, the shipping schedule was accelerated) Doctor Octopus’s mutated and badly beaten body, with Peter Parker’s consciousness stuck inside, died.
Yes, they killed Spider-Man. Sort of.
But Peter Parker’s body — now controlled by Otto Octavius‘s devious mind — lives on, and no one else in the Marvel Universe is the wiser…
I have an issue or two, ten to be precise, with this development.
1. I DIDN’T WRITE IT. Seriously, how good could it be?
2. THE PRICE TAG. The comic book industry isn’t immune to the ravages of a failing economy, I get that. But a $7.99 cover price? The day after Christmas when parents are broke? Does Marvel expect their fan base to resort to petty crime to be able to afford the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man? Never mind super villains, irony sucks.
3. THE MIGHTY-MARVEL HYPE MACHINE. As you can imagine, a story like this is a brilliant way for comic book companies to draw mainstream attention. Yes, I know The Walt Disney Company owns Marvel, but some news outlets still scream “NERDS!” when they get wind of a “funny book story”. But hype can be a dangerous thing when the story rings hollow, which, as you’ll see, I believe to be the case here.
4. “OVERZEALOUS” FANS. Spidey-writer Dan Slott has actually received real death threats for “killing” Peter Parker, a fictional character. Did everyone take note of the two key words? FICTIONAL. CHARACTER. I have nothing more to say. Except this: the people issuing these death threats need to stop buying comics for a month or two and use the funds to rent the affections of an actual woman! Trust me, it’ll change your life. Send your parents to bingo or something, fellas.
5. THERE ARE NO BROODY VAMPIRES THAT SPARKLE IN THE SUN. Apparently some people (like my wife!) like that sort of thing. What’s wrong with women these days?
6. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 CONTAINS NO BACON WHATSOEVER. Bacon rules.
7. ENDING A COMIC’S RUN AFTER 700 ISSUES IS JUST PLAIN CRUEL. Am I the only one that realizes how rare an accomplishment this is? Most comic book creative teams have to make a deal with the “Other Big Guy” to hit a hundred issues, never mind seven hundred of them! “LAST ISSUE!” looks cool on a cover but the reality is anything but amazing.
8. THE BOOK APPEARS TO BE ENTERING DARK TERRITORY. Spider-Ock, or whatever we’re calling him now, actually fights a few villains in this issue and as you would expect, he doesn’t hold back: he hits the Scorpion so hard, his jaw flies off! Really, Marvel? Your new Spider-Man is punching villains so hard their jaws fly off? I’ve heard of anti-heroes, but come on! This brings me to my next point…
9. HE MAY BE WEARING A NEW BODY, BUT WE’RE STILL TALKING ABOUT DOCTOR OCTOPUS, HERE! Amazing Spider-Man #700 displays just what happens when two individuals switch bodies; echoes of the previous owner’s consciousness remain to haunt and influence the new owner. These echoes have apparently inspired Otto Octavius to become a better, nay, a superior (hence the new Marvel Comics title, Superior Spider-Man, debuting Jan. 9) version of the wall-crawling super-hero known as Spider-Man.
But he’s still bad guy, people. I’m all for redemption, but if Octopus turns over a new super-heroic leaf too soon or easily, Marvel will lose even more followers than they already have with this move. Spider-Man fans have taken a beating from Marvel over the years – just Google “One More Day” and “The Clone Saga” and you’ll see what I mean – and this story, if handled as badly, could prove to be the straw that broke the spider’s back.
But all of this speculation is actually pointless. Why, you ask? Because…
10. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 IS AN AMAZING CASH GRAB, FANBOYS! Anyone that believes otherwise is more delusional than a mad scientist. Spider-Man is Marvel’s Crown Jewel, their gem. And Spider-Man is Peter Parker.
Media outlets are reporting that retailer reaction to this storyline has been mixed at best, with several retailers expressing concern that the initial sales surge with fade quickly while fan resentment will only continue to grow.
I couldn’t agree more with the latter. I may check out the first few issues of Superior Spider-Man – assuming my budget and curiosity hold out – but I’ll never fully buy into the premise. I actually enjoyed reading Amazing Spider-Man #700, although it was a hollow, empty read.
To put the mind of a psychotic, washed-up mad scientist – and a senior citizen to boot – in the body of one of the world’s greatest super-heroes is, at best, a risky move, but expecting the public to accept this new status quo as permanent? That is just plain arrogant of Marvel. Say what you will about comic book fans, but we’re not all stunted men-children living in our parents’ basement – and we’re not all willing to dance to whatever tune Marvel Comics feels like playing for us.
HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE SUPERNATURAL ASSASIN SERIES?
- Marvel’s Superior Spider-Man Reveled (firewireblog.com)
- Marvel kills off Peter Parker in 700th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man (metro.co.uk)
- Doctor Octopus: Looking At An Unlikely Hero (geek-news.mtv.com)