Most people think my baseline is to hate something until I’m proven wrong. That’s not really true, but if people need to think that way about me then fine. With Amazing Spider-Man #700, I’m sure folks will be ready for me to come firing at it with both barrels. This is the end of Peter Parker’s run as Spider-Man. This is the end of an era. The final chapter of a story that is one of the most important in the entire history of the comic book medium.
But it’s not, which is part of the problem.
I don’t hate Amazing Spider-Man #700. Not because it’s well written or particularly interesting, but because I’m used to Spider-Man getting the short end of the stick. When it comes to the web-head, Marvel has made me an abused dog. I get nervous and feel the pain of the hit, but it doesn’t surprise me at all. This is what Marvel does. They become so preoccupied with shaking things up that they don’t really think storylines through, especially when it comes to Spider-Man.
The story behind issue #700 is unimportant, because it’s shoddy storytelling at best. Doc Ock has switch his mind into Peter Parker’s leaving our hero on the verge of death in Ock’s dying, crippled body. Over the course of fifty pages, Dan Slott writes Peter into a corner, then writes him out the easiest way he can. For example, Peter needs to be mobile to try and take on Doc Ock so there’s part of a contingency plan the real Ock once thought of that Peter can tap into that covers his bad guy cronies finding him new octopus arms.
In another scene, Doc Ock (in Peter’s body) decides to take a European flight so he’ll either be in the air or in another country while Parker attempts to switch his mind back. That way, Parker never gets close enough to accomplish his task. Well, we can’t have that, so Slott writes Ock seeing J. Jonah Jameson calling Doc Ock a failure on TV. This angers Doc to such an extent he decides to face Peter Parker. Really? That seems a little simple minded for such a genius.
Then there’s the end. Spoilers here so watch out.
Crazy plan after crazy plan fails but, just like all the other issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter has a last minute shocker that just might win the big game. Sadly, it doesn’t work and Peter Parker lays dying in Doc Ock’s body. We can’t have that though. We can’t have Peter Parker die and leave the Spider-Man body under the control of a psychopath like Doc Ock. What to do? What to do?
Slott solves this dilemma by establishing that there is a psychic connection between Ock and Parker, just not one strong enough to switch their minds back. So Spider-Man unloads all his memories into Doc Ock, effectively changing how Ock sees the world and forcing him to be a hero. Ock sees all the major points of Peter Parker’s life but, instead of Parker being in them, a teenage Otto Octavius is there. Otto laying over the slain body of Uncle Ben, mourning Gwen Stacy, being in love with MJ, you get the idea. These memories are so strong that they alter Ock’s entire genetic make up and turn him into a hero. He swears he’ll be the best Spider-Man ever, the Superior Spider-Man.
That doesn’t really work does it.? There’s no basis for Ock’s mental make-up to be changed into heroic thinking just because he experiences Peter Parker’s life in three seconds. To my thinking, this is all just set up to bring Peter Parker back. Could be that Parker has hidden himself in his own mind, and will fight a battle between himself and Ock until he gets control over his own brain? Could be that Ock hates being a hero and turns himself over to Peter? Could be that other heroes figure out what happened and help Peter regain his mind? Slott manages to leave himself quite a few back doors here.
So what has Amazing Spider-Man #700 accomplished besides a cheap publicity stunt? Nothing. From the first introduction of the mind-swap storyline, everything has felt rushed, or there’s been an injection of deus ex machina the likes of which nobody has ever seen. The end of one of the greatest runs in comic book history feels rushed? Isn’t that wrong? Not at all, and why? Because it doesn’t mean anything anyway. Marvel would never have the sack to kill off Peter Parker forever - this is all just slight of hand to generate publicity. My prediction is this wears on until the next movie is due, and then Peter Parker returns. Fans shouldn’t be overly dismayed - in fact, they should be used to it.
The Clone Saga was one of the first smacks by a newspaper on the dog snout of Spider-Man fans. Oh, one of the Jackal’s clones was the man we’ve been rooting for all these years and this other jerk is the real Spider-Man? Nope, just kidding. Ha, ha, good one Marvel.
The Spider Lineage? Oh yeah, Spider-Man wasn’t created by a lab accident, oh no. Instead, Peter Parker was chosen to follow in a lineage of men who are connected to the arachnid world and so now Peter will transform into a big spider and then transform back. Cool, huh?
Revealing Spidey’s identity in Civil War. Good idea there. Not only can we drum up sales for the big reveal issue, we can then wear down the fans with an unbelievably convoluted plot involving Doctor Strange and a spell that causes everyone to forget they know who Spider-Man is. Wow. Marvel wasn’t even trying here.
One More Day and Brand New Day? Oh sure, this will generate lots of publicity. Marvel has become so devoid of ideas for Spider-Man stories, they’ll just shitcan ten years of his history via a confusing story involving Mephisto and Aunt May. This might have been Marvel’s worst slap across the snout because it just purely sucked. So bad that J. Michael Stracyznski wanted to remove his name from the final work.
Beaten as badly as we’ve been by Marvel, this death of Peter Parker and birth of Doc Ock as Spider-Man doesn’t hurt any worse. Instead, it further numbs us to any real emotional connection to Spider-Man. I’m not upset that Peter Parker is dead because he isn’t dead. Marvel wouldn’t do that. He’ll be back and then, in five or six years, Marvel will do something else stupid to try and “shake things up.” That’s what they do. That’s all they do.
The art for Amazing Spider-Man #700 is as pointless as the story. Steve Ditko could have penciled this, or Jack Kirby back from the dead. None of the art matters because it’s used to tell a story that doesn’t matter. There was more emotional impact in the death of J. Jonah Jameson’s wife or the break up of Peter Parker and Carlie, because those were lasting changes that had real meaning for the characters. Peter Parker dying and Doc Ock becoming Superior Spider-Man has no impact on the story, because it’s done for shock value and we’ve all become desensitized to Marvel’s antics involving Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man #700 isn’t deplorable, awful or hateful. It’s forgettable. Some will buy Superior Spider-Man to bide their time until Peter is back. Some will focus on other titles until Peter’s return. However fans handle it, the events that unfolded in Amazing Spider-Man #700 will end up mattering little more than Marvel’s other cheap and obvious ploys for America’s favorite web-head.
CRAVEONLINE RATING: I respectfully decline to give this a rating because I don’t feel it deserves one.