Amazing Spider-Man #699 falls prey to exactly what I feared it would - the rush job. There are only two more issues left, 699.1 and then 700, before Peter Parker is no longer Spider-Man and one of the longest series in comic book history comes to an end. In issue #698, writer Dan Slott dropped on us that Doc Ock had somehow switched his consciousness with Peter Parker. Now Ock is out swinging around being Spider-Man while Peter Parker is trapped in Ock’s dying body. You can’t unveil a plot twist like that with only three issues left without bringing yourself perilously close to the rush job problem
Unfortunately, issue #699 goes right off those rails. It’s not Dan Slott’s fault. In fact, only his deft ability with the pen saves ASM #699 from being a complete wash out. Too much has to be explained here. In these twenty-two pages, Peter Parker deals with the emotional shock of his situation, then solves the riddle of how Doc Ock switched them, and finally masters the ability to search Doc Ock’s thoughts to the point he’s able to reinstate an escape plan. So much goes down here that none of it has time to breathe. Peter becomes okay with his horrible problem way too soon, he figures out how Doc Ock did it way too quickly, and then gets broken out of prison instantly by a crew of super villains that come together entirely too easily.
Winding through all of this are multiple looks at Doc Ock’s memories, as well as this subplot discovery that Doc Connors is actually trapped in the Lizard’s mind the way Peter’s is in Ock's. All of these elements are interesting, but they’re forced onto us so fast it becomes overbearing. By the end of issue #699, I was wishing for this whole Doc Ock mind-switch to have started at #695, so it wouldn’t seem so forced. I’m not sure where this will go. Will the Peter Parker Doc Ock finally kill Spider-Man and then will Peter allow himself to die in Doc Ock’s body? Will Peter get back into his own body and have to die saving the world from Doc Ock. Perhaps there will be no death and Peter will just lose his powers. Whatever happens, I’m hoping Dan Slott is given more room to work.
On the lighter side, artist Humberto Ramos once again nails the art across the board. There are those who love Ramos and those who hate. The haters won’t be won over here. The work is still bigger than life and very much comic book art. Ramos loves to play with dimension and body scale but he also brings action like nobody else. If I have to endure rapid-fire panels, why not love how they look?
(3 Story, 4 Art)