Jan 16

Comic Review – Amazing Spider-Man 700

Main story by Dan Slott, back-up stories by J.M. DeMatteis, Jen Van Meter.
Art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sal Buscema, and Stephanie Buscema.

700 is a landmark issue, the first Marvel comic to reach that high and also it is reportedly the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Though if you believe that I’ve got some bridges I want to sell you,

Before I get into the details let me just say that this is a great issue. Very well written and a very interesting way to end things. I’d recommend reading it and the issues leading up to it, #697 – #699. Spoilers will be discussed after this point.

Let’s get this out of the way first; Dr Octopus is now Spider-Man, Peter Parker is dead, and Amazing Spider-Man is now replaced by Superior Spider-Man. So how did that happen?

Starting in #697 the ‘Dying Wish’ story began as Doc Ock lay on his death bed in prison. In his final few days he pulls off a daring scheme where he switches his body with Spider-Man. While that sounds like one of the most clichéd genre fiction plots Slott has made it work quite well. The key part I think was that the change was permanent; there were actual consequences to a Freaky Friday plot beyond ‘hilarious misunderstandings!’

The entire story is Peter trying to get his body back before Ock’s body dies with him in it. Instead of a knock down slugfest where Peter has to fight himself it’s a game of cat and mouse where Peter and Ock try to outmanoeuvre each other. The first thing Ock does when he find out Peter escaped from the prison is to book a flight out of New York knowing he only has to wait for his body to die for him to win. However when he hears Jonah Jameson insults against Ock over a TV about how much a pathetic second rate loser he is, that drives his ego to prove him wrong. Even if it’s only to Peter as he gloats over his corpse.

It all ends when all of Peter’s attempts have failed and he’s going to die knowing Ock will destroy everyone he loved. From the final few moments of his life he manages to trigger all of his memories inside Ock, making him experience everything that made Peter Spider-Man. Ock lives those memories for himself and they change him into a reformed man wanting to live up to Peter’s example. Though because of his ego he pledges to be a better Spider-Man, a Superior one, showing that Ock may be Spider-Man but he’s still Dr Octopus.

There’s a lot more to it and it is a great deal of seeing this battle of wits play out. There’s lots of good stuff involving Peter’s supporting cast and some of the lesser known of the rogues’ gallery. As well as seeing both Ock and Peter slowly being consumed by the memories of the bodies they’re in.

There were also some great back-up features by J.M. DeMatteis and Jen Van Meter. They were also a great deal of fun, especially the JMD one, but they’re not the main bone of contention here. The death of Peter and Ock taking over were. I must say how the death was handled was pretty well done. There was no ass pulls or making stuff up as they went along, you could tell Slott has been planning this and setting everything up for this since the beginning of his run. This wasn’t a “Hey let’s kill him off and make a big spectacle of it!” it was a natural out growth of the story. Ock taking over was set up for a new direction for the character. The man was dying, he had made peace with that fact and was planning to take the world down with him in a previous story. So now he has an entire new life ahead of him after pulling a Scrooge and seeing life from a different angle.

This brings us to the uncomfortable subject matter that has sprung up over this. The question, “is it rape?” because Ock is pretending to be Peter if he has sex with anybody it is rape.

Rape is non-consensual sex, and the women he’d sleep with are consenting to be with Peter and not Dr Octopus. It’s not violent sexual assault, but it’s still rape, which is where a few people get confused on this point. There was even a point at the beginning of this issue where Ock is about to have sex with Mary Jane and he’s thinking, “Another Victory for the Master Planner.” That’s very creepy and disturbing. Now here’s the other side of this, we don’t know how this is all going to play out. Ock has had his Scrooge moment and might avoid these urges because he might now consider it wrong.

According to Slott this will be addressed by issue 2 of Superior Spider-Man. So until then I’m not going to condemn the book for something that hasn’t happened yet. I’m worried about how it will be handled since this is a delicate subject matter.

With all that being said I’d recommend this book and the entirety of Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man run, starting from Big Time. I’m looking forward to see what he does with Superior, till then face front true believers!