Journal Entry: Wed Jan 23, 2013, 3:25 AM
Warning: the following journal entry contains spoilers pertaining to The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Superior Spiderman #1. If you have not read these comics yet (and would like to) I suggest you stop reading and move on to something else. If you've felt like I ruined some things by spoiling them for you then that's your fault for failing to read this disclaimer. You've been warned!
Now, onto the journal!
As I write this, Peter Parker, is dead. I think. Peter Parker has vanished from the Marvel Universe. If you keep up with Marvel and you've read the latest (and last) Amazing Spider-Man issue, you now know that Otto Octavius, Doctor Octopus, has somehow foiled Spider-Man by becoming Spider-Man.
What we knew was this:
- Doc Ock swapped Bodies/Brains with Peter Parker, somehow.
- ASM #700 would finish ASM as a 50 year series.
- Come the finale, Peter would no longer be Spider-Man, entering the age of a Superior Spiderman.
In all honesty I did not see this coming. Dan Slott had set the stage for Otto to be Spider-Man over the previous three issues. This, in my mind, obviously meant he couldn't wind up being Spider-Man. It just doesn't fit the formula. Ock's 'dying wish' (which, as it turns out, was to not die) had been built up as the dramatic pivot for to many issues for it to become an actual conclusion. Ock as Spider-Man was such a no-brainer, it couldn't possibly be the ultimate twist. But, it was, and in some blazing banner of brilliance or boldness or stupidity (I haven't decided which) the obvious outcome that simply could not occur, did.
It's a feeling familiar to anyone who has ever read a novel, watched a movie, flicked through a comic: the hero provails even when it seems impossible. We always know that victory is around the corner because that's how stories go, and the "impossible" obstacles are understood to be the climax to make things interesting as we travel from A to B, but we all know, deep down, the complications will resolve.
Imagine, then, the hero doesn't come out on top, and the nefarious plan of the evil mastermind somehow comes to fruition, toppling our valiant protagonist.
The real twist is that there wasn't a real twist. Instead, in his final moments and trapped within the decrepit body of one of his worst enemies, Peter is able to force Otto to bear the weight of fused memories. A recollection of all of Spider-Man's tragedies and triumphs, a lot of death, a heap of suffering, and a bunch of sticky black goo which astound, confuse, and align Otto Octavius. Gone is his sinister plan to run amuck as Peter Parker, replaced with the immediate and stern understanding of power and responsibility. This, more or less, happens over the course of two panels.
I've been left a little more than stupefied. I'm still trying to decide if the Peter Parker memory-meld with Doc Ock's brain is totally logical and acceptable or a lazy and rushed means to change some shit up. (excuse the language)
I know I probably shouldn't take Peter Parker's death as seriously as I am, as he is bound to come back to life sometime, I mean just look at Captain America. We've had him die, only to come back to life two years later by having never died and then kill his replacement, who apparently came back to life as well! With comic book deaths like these its hard to take them seriously because in the end, nearly every time, the character that died will come back to life.
I must admit, I liked this issue (I think). I'm not entirely mad at Dan Slott or Stephen Wacker, at least I don't believe I am, but they literally made one of the least likeable villain take on the red and blue webby tights. Look at Otto Octavius's stupid face. Ugh. But, with a new persona there must also come a new suit. Though Ock's is still very much the same to Peter's there are some slight changes. The eyes on Otto's suit have been tweaked, and he now has talons that can come out of his hands and feet.
So now what?
- How does MJ react to Pete's personality change? May?
- How long before Ock learns to respect cheesy witticisms?
- Will Jonah take to the new no nonsense Parker?
- Surely one of the Avengers will pick up on the scent of a cunning, decisive Webhead, right?
- Will Peter suddenly favour the bowl cut?
- Will Ock unmask himself?
- Did Madame Web see this coming? Is this the moment that's been driving her bonkers?
- Will Otto be ogling Aunt May through Peter's eyes? Oh, dude, gross
- How difficult or easy will it be to bring the real Peter back? Technically, Pete's memories and substance of life still exist in Ock's brain which is actually Pete's brain which is definitely in Pete's body. Shouldn't be too difficult to conjure up a mind vs mind scenario.
Pretty much none of these things are revealed in Superior Spider-Man #1. But before I start blabbing on about that, let me first mention something that extremely frustrates me about this new series. That is, the title. After Peter's death, Doc Ock decides to use his body to become the new Spider-Man. Not only that but he also decides to call himself 'The Superior Spider-Man'. In the words of many Spider-Man fans who read that part (once again excuse the language, I'll censor myself out here) ARE YOU F*****G KIDDING ME!!! Doc Ock is going to be a better Spider-Man than Peter? How insulting!
By reading the last two sentences of #700, most people would understand why I have a problem with Doc Ock being the new Spider-Man and calling himself The Superior Spider-Man. Well, I thought that the way Doc Ock became the new Spider-Man was pretty well told, but I didn't like the fact that he called himself The Superior Spider-Man. Oh, he outsmarted Peter while using Peter's body, so that by itself makes him superior. Give me a break! But I shouldn't have to rush to judgment on that just yet as I need to see what Doc Ock has up his sleeve to make himself a superior Spider-Man.
That's not the only thing that disappoints me. What disappoints me even more about this debut issue is that it doesn't offer the sense that Otto has changed or that he's beginning the path of redemption. He's just a jerk who managed to land himself a fabulous new take on life. He battles criminals and walks away from the fight halfway through because he can't stomach the thought of being punched while trying to be a hero. I don't want a take on Otto that presents him as entirely noble and senseless. That would be ridiculous. But I do want some sign of character growth and that he's actually trying to be a hero. Readers need to be able to root for a protagonist, even if he isn't a 100% great guy.
The next thing isn't really a frustration or disappointment, but its just incredibly creepy. Seeing MJ throw herself at a man who fundamentally isn't who she thinks he is is just weird. The sight of a lecherous Octo-Pete guzzling champagne and ogling her breasts at dinner is just... blegh. I'm going to assume Slott is aware of the murky waters he is treading in. We'll simply have to see how this relationship plays out over the next few months. But I feel it would have been better for everyone involved if Slott had created an entirely new love interest for the series.
All this is not to say the first issue is without merit. Much of it is surprisingly humorous given Otto's inability to crack Spider jokes. Slott accommodates for his humourless star by pitting him against a gang of pitiful lower-end villains masquerading as the new Sinister Six. As expected, Otto is less than thrilled at seeing the old gang brought so far low. These encounters showcase the new ways in which this Superior Spider-Man conducts business. There are some neat new inventions Otto deploys, and Slott continues to explore the ramifications of someone wielding the incredible strength of a spider without restraint. Additionally, it's fun to watch the less-than-subtle changes in the way the supporting cast interact with Octo-Pete. The problem here is that it's growing increasingly strange that no one finds his new behaviour odd. I'll be interested to see how Aunt May responds to her nephew's drastic personality shift when she enters the picture again.
All in all there is a lot to consider, a lot to process, and a lot to protest. Regardless what other people say, I quite enjoyed this end of one series/start of another, and would like to say, good on you Marvel, for executing (no pun intended) something seriously different.
Listening to: Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
Reading: Sherlock Holmes - A Study In Scarlet
Watching: Little Britain
Drinking: Pomegranate Juice