Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man AND Avenging Spider-Man!
This is it. The big one. The whole shebang. The culmination of Doc Ock body swapping with Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man ends here, and if you somehow haven’t gotten it spoiled by almost every major news outlet, you may be surprised by how the issue plays out.
Or not, if you’ve read the previous issues of the story, or seen Marvel’s solicitations for Superior Spider-Man, or read their Marvel NOW! Preview book they released last week. Regardless, I’ll throw a SPOILER warning here just in case you somehow missed it and use a seeing eye dog to read your comics:
Doc Ock is the new Spider-Man. Peter Parker fails to undo the brain swap from two issues ago, and dies in Otto Octavius’ frail body.
The lead up to this event is done fairly well by writer Dan Slott, and certainly sticks the landing better than any of the previous Spidey events of this year. Leading his own band of villains, PeterOck attempts to get the attention of OckSpidey, knowing that Dr. Octopus would have to use his new body to fight off one of Spider-Man’s enemies. Ock, on the other hand, has some nefarious ideas of his own, mainly involving getting all of Peter’s friends and family in the same “safe” zone and dealing with them later.
With time running out, PeterOck and OckSpidey eventually have their showdown at Avengers tower, the very place where Mary Jane, Aunt May, and others are being held. The two throw down, with Spider-Man acting very uncharacteristically nasty to his loved ones, and Dr. Octopus trying to protect people he’d never before think of. PeterOck, with his crippled frail body dying out on him, makes one final stab at reversing the brain swap, and fails. As he lays dying, Dr. Octopus is suddenly swarmed with all of Peter Parker’s memories (Dr. Octopus has all of Peter’s memories since he’s in Peter’s body). Seeing as how the two enemies now have almost a shared consciousness now, Ock seemingly relives Peter’s memories as his life flashes before his eyes.. This causes him to see the error of his ways, and, motivated by the same things that motivated Peter to do good, inspire him to be a better hero than Peter Parker ever was. And thus, Superior Spider-Man is born.
Perhaps my indifference towards the big revelation regarding the identity of “Superior” Spider-Man stems from the fact that I know this will all be reversed by the time Amazing Spider-Man 2 is released in theaters (so in roughly 2 years). While the idea of a villain assuming the body and powers of a hero is an intriguing one, it’s kind of hard to believe in Ock’s sudden nobility. It seems to come out of left field, and in all honesty, felt a little rushed. I don’t completely buy the fact that Otto would have such a quick change of heart. In fact, it’s pretty hypocritical that Dr. Octopus, in trying to be a better person and not be a villain, stole the body of his greatest enemy (a hero), and is NOW trying to be a better person. Perhaps Slott should’ve cut short one of the earlier action set pieces, or lengthened this story.
Speaking of Ock, while I may not be entirely sold on his new outlook on life, I do have to admit, Dan Slott writes the hell out of him. You can practically feel the hatred he has for Spider-Man at the beginning of the book, and you really believe that just because he’s taken over Peter Parker’s body, he’s not going to stop there. I do have a problem with the fact that none of Peter’s friends call him out for calling them “simpletons”. He calls MJ “woman!”, and she doesn’t even bat an eyelash at it. Seriously? No one suspects ANYTHING is up with Peter being uncharacteristically rude to them, not even the girl who dated him for years?
Humberto Ramos returns to the pencils with this issue, and I found this to be better than some of his more recent stints on the book. There’s still some wonky faces and poses (poor MJ’s chin), but for the most part, Ramos does a solid job here. I may not be entirely okay with the way Marvel is treating my favorite superhero, (in fact, I wonder what Peter Parker did to Marvel to make them hate him so much), but the fact that this “new status quo” will definitely be over within a year (two tops) makes the ending sit a little better than it should.
Picking up directly where Amazing Spider-Man #700 leaves off, Avenging Spider-Man‘s point one issue follows the first few days of Dr. Octopus in Peter Parker’s body. Where Amazing left off with Ock showing remorse and vowing to carry on as Spider-Man in Peter’s place, this book reads more like Ock is going to use his body to gloat and show how much smarter and better he is when compared to Spider-Man.
This disconnect really does take away from Amazing’s ending, and at times I felt that maybe writer Chris Yost didn’t fully understand what Slott was attempting with 700. Despite this, there are some fun moments, like when OckSpidey breaks into his old lab and hears his old voice over the alarm. Aside from that, this serves more as a lead up to next month’s Superior Spider-Man than anything else. Ock is hellbent on using his intellect to make improvements that Parker never dreamed of, and I have to admit, I do like the redesigned costume.
Paco Medina’s art is probably the highlight of this issue. In fact, there’s a part of me that wishes he had drawn Amazing Spider-Man #700 instead of Ramos. He really nails the fact that even though this guy looks like Peter Parker, he certainly isn’t the REAL Peter Parker. As a coda to Amazing, Avenging Spider-Man 15.1 is pretty good, even if it doesn’t connect 100% with what Slott had seemingly established at the end of the Ock/Spidey battle.