Oh, sorry. Did you expect some kind of spoiler warning for that? Give me a break. If you're a Spider-Man fan at all, how you're even using the Internet right now without already knowing this information is beyond me. But still, there it is - Peter Parker, the man we've all come to know and love as the Amazing Spider-Man, is dead. What is that, you ask? Does that mean there will be no more Spider-Man? Of course not, Spidey still exists. So, then who is it, you may wonder, that now wears the familiar red-and-blues?
No, no. You read that right. This guy...
Is now this guy...
After they swapped brains, and that guy...
Became this guy.
See what I'm saying? It was the old mind-switcheroo. Doc Ock swapped bodies with Peter, just as he was preparing to finally kick the bucket out of old age, leaving Peter to instead die in his old body, while he took Peter's body and... You know? You get it. Peter Parker is dead and gone. Doctor Octopus now inhabits Peter's body, and is Spider-Man.
This is so fucked up.
Okay, let me take a deep breath. First of all, let me clarify one thing: I have yet to read Amazing Spider-Man #700. I will get around to it eventually, but just so we're all on the same page, this isn't going to be a review of the issue. Whether or not the writing and artwork in #700 itself is any good is not what I feel like discussing. Actually, I've heard it's rather good on it's own merit, which does not surprise me. What I have read of Dan Slott's run on ASM has been very positive. I'm not here to review the issue itself, I'm just here to discuss one thing: Peter Parker is dead, and Doc Ock is now Spider-Man.
I'm sure some people out there are thinking that this must just be some sort of publicity stunt, right? Surely something like this was only done to sell comics, and in due time, Marvel will return to the status quo, right? Well, yes and no. See, Dan Slott insists the move was not done purely to generate sales, and I think I believe him. The guy has churned out some quality Spidey stories during his run, and he truly does get behind this move. I think to him, this WAS done as an honest to god twist he saw as good storytelling, and to that end, good for him. It's a ballsy move alright, one that has already become rather polarizing amongst fans. Whether you like it or not, you have to admit, the guy did what he thought would be cool, and I respect that. As far as Marvel goes as a company, however, I think this was more done to bring in some cash. News outlets that don't normally cover comics are discussing this, so whether people like it or not, they will be likely to pick up Superior Spider-Man when it launches, just to see what in the hell is going on.
Oh, right - I almost forgot about Superior Spider-Man. That's the new monthly Spidey title we're getting. See, this was all done not only as a crazy-ass comic twist, but as the genuine ending to Amazing Spider-Man as it's own series. Rather than just rebooting back to issue #1, Marvel has ended it entirely, and will begin anew with Superior, which sees the continuing adventures of.... Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man. This, according to Slott, was done by Marvel to prove just how totally for real-reals they are that Peter is really, really dead and will never, ever come back again (certainly not when Amazing Spider-Man 2 roles around).
This... upsets me. If it were just a story arc, that I could totally get behind, because as an idea in-and-of itself, it's cool. But with Marvel claiming this is a permanent change, there is just way too much... WRONG with this concept, especially for me to ever embrace it as the NEW status quo.
First off all, let's take the manner this happened. I get that Doc Ock inherited Peter's memories of being Spider-Man, essentially giving him the kick he needed to become a real hero, rather than just some old jackass in a hero's body. That's all well and good. Again, if this were just a story arc, it would be a neat development for both characters. It's not, though. The fact remains that Doc Ock basically killed Peter and TOOK HIS FRIGGIN' BODY. Peter was not given any sort of heroic death, and Doc Ock wasn't given the body against his will or anything, only to accept it in the end - much like Peter did himself with the Spider-Man mantle. No, our current Spider-Man killed the previous one, whom bare in mind we've spent the last fifty years with. I don't care if Otto has decided to really honor Peter's memory or not, he killed Peter Parker, and the character we've come to know and love for so long now is gone. There's something way too disturbing about this whole scenario for me to ignore.
Next - and this one really bothers me - Doctor Octopus will now be fucking Mary Jane Watson. Could I have just said "dating"? Or, "kissing'? Sure, probably; but when I say "fucking", it's because I really, really want us all to acknowledge how absolutely dark and twisted it is. This guy...
Will now be having sex with THIS woman....
Who use to have sex with THIS guy....
And.... ah, whatever, you get the point. See, I'm a big M.J. fan. I really never felt like the movies did her character justice, and even the comics sometimes really bugger things up with her. When she is done well though, with a competent writer, Mary Jane is a character I really, really like, and someone whom I feel has always been very important to Peter's story. Except, oh wait - Peter is dead now, right? So I guess she's important to Doctor Octopus's story now, isn't she? Yeah, that's pretty odd. Not just, like, a small tilt of your head and a little "huh", odd. I think I was more comfortable with the idea of Wolverine having sex with her in Peter's body that other time Peter got mind-swapped with someone. It's just weird and uncomfortable, like some old man deciding to marry a woman he once taught in kindergarten. Actually, that's pretty much exactly what it is.
Oh, while we're on the subject, I suppose we all may as well point out now how Doctor Octopus has also gotten his freak on with the other most important women in Peter's life...
No, thank god. Besides, Norman Osborn already hit that, and Doc Ock doesn't like sloppy seconds - y'know, because he's a hero now, and heroes are above that.
Yeah, that's right. For those of you who didn't know, there was a a time back in the day when Aunt May was gonna marry Doctor Octopus. Now, ever since, it's been easy to just disregard it as one of those wacky-ass comic book storylines, the sort you never really ever have to think of again. Or we wouldn't if it weren't for the fact that Dan Slott decided to take the time to REMIND US OF IT. Like I said, Doc Ock got Peter's memories, and Peter got some of Doc Ock's. Including the one where, y'know, ol' Otto boinked his aunt. It's like they went out of their way just to remind us of this, so that when it came time for them to tell us "NO, SERIOUSLY, DOCTOR OCTOPUS IS TOTALLY PETER NOW", we would all be very, very acutely aware that the man who is now Peter Parker had, at one point, fucked his aunt.
Yeah, go ahead and absorb that. Peter Parker - the man who is now Peter Parker - has had sex with M.J. and Aunt May. That's, uh... yeah, that's what I think of when I think about superheroes.
I would say that, beyond these two, I think, rather glaring issues with this whole stunt, the other thing that really bothers me is the fact that nobody is aware Peter died. That's because, in a way, he didn't. His body is still running around, with Doc Ock pulling the strings. His family, his friends, his loved ones, the rest of the superhero community - to them, Peter is still alive and well. He's just kind of a douche now. That bothers me almost as much as Doc Ock manhandling Peter's former wife - the fact that none of the characters who even mattered in Peter Parker's life even know he's dead. The only exception is one of his oldest enemies, who need I remind you, is the one responsible for his death in the first place.
Look, I get that the big thing Dan Slott is trying to push here is that the mantle and the MEANING of Spider-Man are bigger than the man behind the mask, but that doesn't mean that the man behind the mask didn't matter. People love Spider-Man because of who the character was, Peter Parker. They loved his sense of humor, his sense of justice and all that, and the fact that he was always the underdog. It's not like the costume was the reason they bought the comics. It was just as much Peter Parker himself as it was the superhero he doubled as. Now his replacement killed him, stole his life, and there is nobody around to even honor his memory other than the man who murdered him.
That leads me to my last real problem with this big change: Peter Parker is Spider-Man. That's it, that's all. End of story. I don't care how it's written, or how it's done - Peter is and always will be the Amazing Spider-Man. You ask just about anyone out there, and there are pretty much three secret identities anyone can name: Clark Kent is Superman, Bruce Wayne is Batman, and Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Now, there have been plenty of times someone else has briefly taken over the mantle of a hero, but when it comes to Spider-Man, the matter upsets me a bit more. To me, Peter Parker defined what we all love about the character. It was as much the man who wore the costume as it was what the superhero we identified with that costume could do. Some superheroes aren't as clearly defined by their personalities, but Spider-Man to me is not one of them. It's always the personality of Peter Parker that I think draws people to the character the most. Now the man behind the mask is Doc Ock? Explain again how I'm supposed to embrace this change?
That's basically all I have to say about that. Again, like I said before, I'm not trying to review the issue itself here, or how it stands as a story in it's own right. Like I said, I do enjoy Dan Slott's stuff, and I have heard it is done very well. As a story, I like the idea - as a permanent change, I absolutely hate it. You can bet I'll be right there when Superior drops though, just like everyone else. Eager to see what the word is on this new Spider-Man. Who knows? Maybe this new Spider-Man will be awesome. Maybe everyone will totally forget Peter.
Or maybe I should once again remind you all that he's been naked with Aunt May before.