WARNING: DO NOT PANIC. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT.
I unfortunately feel the need for the dramatic disclaimer, only because information gets further manipulated the more it is spread (see the game Telephone). While this article is to explain the significance of events stemming from The Amazing Spider-Man issue #700, it’s also meant to calm the masses who don’t read comic books on a regular basis. In the past decade alone you may have heard snippets in the news of comic book heroes dying; Batman, the Human Torch, Hellboy, Captain America, the list really does go on depending on how big the character is. But last week, one of the most popular characters ever to don the red & blues has kicked the bucket, and is worth discussing.
Peter Parker, the O.G. Spider-Man, is dead. He’s pining for the fjords. He has ceased to be. He is an ex-Spiderman. Now this has happened already to the Peter Parker in the Ultimate line of comics (think alternate universe) a few years ago to make way for the character of Miles Morales, but no one ever thought Marvel would be crazy enough to kill the original Peter Parker of the 616 Universe (again, alternate universes. Marvel loves them so). The character of Spider-Man is still alive and well, but the individual behind the webs might throw people for a loop.
For the past 100 issues Dr. Octopus, Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis, has been dying. It slowly started three years ago and his body has been getting more twisted and decrepit ever since. While Otto Octavius is a brilliant sunuvabitch, his genius is unfortunately trapped in his metallic body of mostly arms and tentacles nowadays, incapable of getting any better. His new character redesign in issue 600 surprised some people, for he was just a cocoon with arms and little Octobots surrounding him; nothing like the iconic Doc Ock we’ve grown to love. He’s been thinking of ways to trick death ever since, and in the issues leading up to 700, he’s finally executed the perfect getaway.
Longtime Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has been planning this milestone of an issue for several years now, leaving clues here and there for the hardcorest of fans. And yet, even the most die-hard Spidey-philes couldn’t believe what Slott had in store for Peter Parker & company. No matter how dire the situation, Spider-Man will always triumph, right? Doc Ock, moments away from death, had switched minds with Peter Paker. Otto would go on and live the rest of his life as Spider-Man, while Peter Parker died as Dr. Octopus.
And that’s what issue 700 focuses on; the last-ditch effort of Parker as Doc Ock, trying to reverse the effects before shuffling off this mortal coil. It really is a battle of the brains, as each character tries using the others memories against them, looking for that one chink in the armor. Not only is Octavius the smarter of the two, but now that he has Spider-Man’s abilities makes him unstoppable. Meanwhile poor Peter is drifting in and out of life, desperately looking for the one device that switched their minds in the first place, in hopes to reverse the programming. But this time around Parker isn’t capable of outsmarting Otto and coming out on top, and in his final moments gives Octavius a ringside seat to his life flashing before his eyes, trying to teach him why it’s important to continue on the legacy and being Spider-Man is more than just the powers.
That’s the twist; Otto Octavius decides he’ll not only continue being Spider-Man, but he’ll be an even better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was. A Superior Spider-Man in every way. He’ll use his genius to make the world a better place, while continuing to protect Parker’s friends and family.
Now that you know why issue 700 was such a big deal, allow me to comfort you with this; Doc Ock as Spider-Man won’t last forever. It’s just a ploy to get the casual reader interested again, and drum-up some much needed publicity. You see, publishers like Marvel and DC are constantly bombarding fans with gigantic events and milestone issues, trying to keep the hype going and the profits flowing. Decades ago comics were selling in the millions, and nowadays if a title is lucky it’ll be selling in the tens of thousands. Publishers get desperate to stay relevant, and will try any trick in the book to get the numbers up. This usually consists of killing off a major character, or having an event that “changes everything as we know it.” The condition is known as ‘event fatigue’ and almost every comic book fan has it nowadays.
I used to subscribe to Marvel’s press releases, but after getting spoiled one too many times, I got sick of it and unsubscribed. For months I was on the edge of my seat wondering which member of the Fantastic Four was going to die, and the morning the comic was released, Marvel included in th subject of the email that the Human Torch was a goner. I was livid. They don’t want the fans or creators spoiling who dies, but they have no problem giving the scoop to every newspaper and publication in the country. I get that, I do, getting the casual comic reader into the comic stores again and slapping down some Washingtons.
In the ’90s people were under the impression that their comics were going to put their kids through college, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The bubble burst, and all those special comics with the holographic covers can be found in the dollar bins at your local convention. This mindset has slowly been returning in the past decade, with comics like Amazing Spider-Man #700 being marketed as a collector’s issue when in fact it’ll be worth nothing a month from now. It will go into multiple printings after selling out, and there will be people collecting every variant and printing because they have the impression it will be worth hundreds upon thousands of dollars fifty years from now. More power to these millionaires in the making, but it’s not
going to happen.
So in conclusion, I recommend you don’t panic about Peter Parker no longer being Spider-Man. Bruce Wayne ‘died’ and eventually came back as Batman. Steve Rogers ‘died’ and eventually came back as Captain America. The Human Torch ‘died’ and eventually came back as a member of the Fantastic Four. Three years from now Peter Parker will miraculously come back as Spider-Man, probably coincidentally just in time for The Amazing Spider-Man #800. Nothing is forever, dead is never dead, and comic book publishers will always recycle their usual tricks.