Amazing Spider-Man #700
Writer: Dan Slott [Back-up stories by J.M. DeMatteis and Jen Van Meter]
Art: Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks] and Edgar Delgado [Colors] [Art on back-ups by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sal Buscema, Antonio Fabela and Stephanie Buscema]
[SPOILER ALERT: THIS REVIEW IS FULL OF SPOILERS THAT YOU PROBABLY ALREADY SAW ON THE INTERNET A FEW WEEKS AGO]
Given the way spoilers for this issue leaked a few weeks ago, it’s likely that you might already have your mind made up about it. As the “final” issue of Amazing Spider-Man, #700 is also the highest number any Marvel comic has ever reached, and it just happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the series’ first issue. (Now it kind of makes sense why they did the thrice-monthly and bi-monthly schedules the last few years, huh? Solid planning.)
Anyways, the book’s final storyline has seen Dr. Octopus swap his consciousness from his dying body into the body of Spider-Man and vice-versa. Peter Parker, now in Doc Ock’s body, is using that body’s final hours to try to swap the consciousnesses back into the right bodies.
I think we’ve covered before that mind-swap stories are one of two types of stories I hate because I can’t suspend disbelief for them. (The other type is time travel, because the minute you go to another time period and do anything, you risk creating a time paradox that screws up everything that happens from then on.)
Spoiler alert: Peter Parker fails to swap minds back into the right body and dies in Doc Ock’s body, while Ock will be Spider-Man from now on in Peter Parker’s body. The catch is that, since Ock has all of Peter’s memories, Peter pulled a fast one on him at the end of #700 and made him remember everything that ever happened to him, thus somehow turning him “good.” This is the set-up fornext month’s new series, Superior Spider-Man. I think I’ve reached my jumping-off point.
The one thing that’s been pushed on Spidey fans lately is that Doc Ock is somehow Spider-Man’s greatest enemy of all time. As someone who has read Spider-Man comics for nearly 20 years (I’m including the period of time where Ben Reilly took over as Spider-Man in the mid-90s even though I hated that idea, quit reading new issues for several years at that time and only bought back issues), I’ve never cared much for Ock. Spider-Man consistently beat him so decisively time and again so much that he had to get a bunch of other villains together as the Sinister Six to help him out. And even then, he still couldn’t hurt Spider-Man on the same level as the Green Goblin. In my book, Norman Osborn will always be the arch-enemy because he killed Gwen Stacy. What did Ock do besides sleeping with Aunt May and being an occasional annoyance? He should’ve stayed dead after Kaine killed him during the Clone Saga.
Which brings up another issue: Does anyone really believe that Peter Parker is going to stay “dead” and that Doc Ock won’t eventually end up in his own body? If Peter isn’t back from the dead, in his own body, bythe time the sequel to Amazing Spider-Man hits theaters, then he will be by the time they make another movie with Dr. Octopus as the villain. Only the “Forever Dead Four” (Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, and Bruce Wayne’s parents) stay dead in comics, especially now that the big companies want to make things as accessible as possible to the casual readers they hope will buy these books after seeing the movies. They need an easy in, and how do you explain to someone who’s never picked up an issue that Doc Ock is now Spider-Man, but in Peter Parker’s body, without opening the floodgates of confusion. Peter Parker and Doc Ock both will be back sooner or later, just like Captain America, Professor X (multiple times), Jean Grey (again, multiple times), Batman, Superman, and many others before them.
That said, this issue is very well written and I did enjoy reading it. Humberto Ramos turns in the best art of his career here, as well. Hell, it’s even the best art on the book this entire year (no offense to anyone else who worked on the book this year), and that’s coming from a guy who used to be on the fence about the guy’s art.
Look, I’ve loved Slott’s entire run on the book, but I’m just not feeling the new direction. I’ve got nothing against the guy. At least, unlike some people you may have heard about through various media sources, I have enough class to not threaten the guy’s life over a comic book story. If you feel like me and see this as a good jumping off point, I recommend Batman and Batman & Robin, which arguably the two best superhero books out right now.
As for the issue’s two back-up stories, they’re both short, fun stories that exist, as far as I know, outside of continuity. Are they filler? I don’t know, but I really liked the one by DeMatteis. I do wish this issue had some more of the gag pages like #600, but I guess there was plenty here to justify the $7.99 price tag. (Be still, my throbbing wallet.)
STORY: 9/10 (It was well-done. I just don’t care for the direction.)