Well boys and girls, it’s time for Amazing Spider-Man #700. It was leaked a few weeks ago, but I weathered the storm, and read the story unspoiled. And what happened? Well, the most controversial ending since One More Day.
Spoiler warning for Amazing Spider-Man #698-#699. There will be a section of spoilers for #700, but you’ll need to highlight it with your mouse to see them.
Dan Slott writes a good anniversary issue. A great anniversary issue builds on threads that have been building for some time, but also resonates with the character on a deeper level. Usually this has the main character doing something that ties into a classic storyline. Well, Slott ties this in with the mother of all Spider-Man stories…his origin. After reading the issue a few times, I couldn’t help but think about Spider-Man’s origin story. It feels very similar, but not in a gimmicky sort of way. As always, Slott knows how to write Peter Parker. He’s a fighter, no matter how tough the situation is stacked against him. And while yes, these last few issues have been quite trying for Peter, he still has his trademark wit.
Slott wrote himself into a corner with one aspect of the story. The brain switching is a nice idea, but it brings up a lot of problems with who can outsmart who. One minute they have the entire memory of each other, the next they are being taken by surprised. Wouldn’t they be able to assume that they other would do that? It’s quite frustrating, and breaks the issue up momentum wise. And while all the characters in one spot thing actually works, Carlie’s sudden appearance feels out of left field. She’s been out of the book for months now, so why pop up? Let her have her quiet time.
At this point in Slott’s Spider-Man run, you either love Humberto Ramos’ pencils, or you don’t. I’m more toward liking them, but they have problems. But when given enough time, his pencils can be brilliant. He clearly had a few months to work on #700, as the characters feel lifelike, even with the exaggerated body parts. The emotional points hit well, and Ramos gives just enough blood to make the stakes feel high. The hallucination scene near the beginning looks fantastic. Ramos gives a lot of detail to every character, even when there is a lot going on in the scene. Sal Buscema’s inks are superb, using thin lines in the hallucination scene, but reverting to thick lines in real life. I loved Antonio Fabela’s colors. The soft look early on helps set that scene apart from the rest of the issue.
Begin spoilers. Highlight the text to see the paragraph.
Yes, Doc Ock is the new Spider-Man. While it was easy to see coming from the last few issues, Slott writes it pretty well here. Ock has always been one of the “saner” Spider-Man villains, occasionally jumping the line of anti-hero and villain. When Ock experiences everything that Peter Parker has gone though, it feels believable. Fans who have been reading for a long time know how much Pete has gone through. Throwing that at someone all at once would inspire any person to be a hero. This ends up being Ock’s “Uncle Ben” moment. But it doesn’t shove the metaphor down the reader’s throat. The moment is about Ock realizing he has to become a hero to live up to Peter. While I’m excited about the potential this shift brings, I was expecting the ending to not work on any level. Slott proved me wrong considerably. The only thing that bothers me about Ock being in Peter’s body is the relationship with MJ. If Ock does anything with her, it’s borderline rape. This needs to be handled very carefully.
It is the nature of comics to have cycles. There are periods where things are different, and periods where some things are the same. Fanboy and fangirls need to give Dan Slott a chance to tell his story. I remember when Bucky was coming back from the dead, every fan cried foul. But then we got the masterpiece that was the “Winter Soldier Saga.” The same happened when Bucky became Cap, Steve Rogers died, Peter and MJ’s marriage was erased, and Johnny Storm’s death. But they opened up opportunities to tell new and interesting stories. It’s not something to get so worked up about that you quit reading comics. Let the story play out, then make a decision. You don’t like the decision before a single issue has come out? That’s your choice, but you’re missing out on what could be a great story. Slott has proven that he knows Peter Parker and Spider-Man quite well, so he has got a chance in my book.
While Peter Parker is best known as Spider-Man, but one does not equal the other. Exhibit A is Miles Morales in the Ultimate universe. When he was first created, fans hated him. “Spider-Man is Peter Parker!” was the comment I saw everywhere. We are almost two full years into the new volume of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, and many will say that Morales is a great Spider-Man. The character of Spider-Man is about meeting your potential as a person. Peter has done that time and time again, and Miles is doing a great job of it so far. Slott seems to be going for the same angle with this new Spider-Man. Peter Parker will always be MY Spider-Man. Much like Doctor Who, everyone has THEIR Doctor. This the Doctor that got them hooked on the show, and made them love the show. Just because I like David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) more than Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor), doesn’t mean that Matt Smith has done a terrible job. Give new ideas a chance.
Yes, Peter Parker will probably be back at some point. It’s the nature of comics. But we could see this new Spider-Man for some time. When the Captain America movie was coming around, the Marvel higher ups talked about who should be Cap in the comics. The higher ups have gone on record saying they wanted Bucky to be Captain America, but Ed Brubaker decided to bring Steve Rogers back as Cap. If Brubaker hadn’t changed that, we could still see Bucky running around with the shield. The future is wide open, and I for one, am quite excited.
The Amazing Spider-Man #700 gets 4/5.