Writer Dan Slott did say that Amazing Spider-Man #698 was going to be a game changer, and it is. A big game changer, one that I’m reserving judgment on until I see how things roll through issue #700. Before I go on any further, this is a SPOILER WARNING!! If you have not read the issue and you want to be surprised then read no further.
You’ve been warned
Seriously, turn back now.
Okay, so you’ve decided to stay. Here’s the big gut punch for issue #698, the dying body of Doctor Otto Octavius is actually Peter Parker. Yep, at some point, one that is still a mystery, Doc Ock switched places with Peter Parker. Now he’s in the young, fit and healthy body of his greatest adversary while our hero Peter Parker is standing at death’s door, trapped in the body of the wretched and diseased Ock.
The rest of issue #698 is meaningless; it’s all about the last pages where the big reveal comes in. Essentially, we watch Spidey swing through the city acting like today is the best day ever. Subtly, Slott begins poking us with little examples of the switch. Peter is meaner to a super villain, he’s colder towards Aunt May and he’s more aggressive in trying to reignite his relationship with Mary Jane.
As shocking as the big reveal is, Slott still handles the issue with grace. The writing is so well done that you don’t really tie in the way Peter is acting until the reveal, then it all comes together. As for the reveal itself, it will all depend on how Slott and Marvel handle this. It could be that after one issue of being Spider-Man, Doc Ock hates it and tries to switch back, which strips Peter of his powers.
Doc Ock could fake the death of this Spider-Man and return as Superior Spider-Man. Mephisto could get involved, angered that his spell is being wasted on Doc Ock. There are a lot of ways this could go and only the last two issues will let us know if it’s brilliant or if we’ve been handed another One More Day shit sandwich. MY kneejerk reaction was to get pissed off, but I have faith in Dan Slott, so I’ll wait to see what the final outcome is.
Everything at this point is speculation. Will Peter Parker die? Will Doc Ock be discovered? Who is Superior Spider-Man? We’ll all just have to wait and find out. Good or bad, I will say this for Slott, he’s given us one of the only nail-biting, must-read issues of the last year. It’s been a while since I was anxiously awaiting the next issue of any book. Even if this whole thing shits the bed, Slott has given us that.
Oddly enough, the chosen artist for this huge issue delivers really basic and boring work. Richard Elson draws this as if it was a throw away issue, not one of the biggest in recent Spidey history. Flat pencils, boring placement, no sense of movement or style. Elson draws the entirety of ASM #698 like the old Hostess Cupcake ads featuring Spider-Man. It just feels entirely to uninspired for an issue that has this level of importance.
The history of Spider-Man takes a serious twist in #698. All we can do is hope the story is something we cherish instead of another blow to the already battered Spider-Man hopefuls.
(4 Story, 3 Art)