Final Days: Amazing Spider-Man

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

Originally fellow geek, Marvel-ite, and Geek This! listener, David Hunt, was going to join me to discuss the last issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the debut issue of Superior Spider-Man. Due to my lack of Skype-recording know-how, we talked for nearly an hour and a half, but nothing was ever recorded. I’ve decided that instead of recording an episode I would give my thoughts right here in blog form.

To back up just a bit, I have to admit that it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that I started reading comic books on a regular basis. Even then I wasn’t (and am not currently) reading a series consistently.

(I don’t think that will ruin too much of my geek-cred, though. I love the art and ideas and stories that comics have to offer readers and I have every intention to stick with a book once I have the money to do so.)

Since I was pretty out of the comic book loop, I didn’t hear about The Amazing Spider-Man #700 until just a few weeks before it hit shelves. The moment I heard that they were ending a series that had been going for 50 years – and the fact that it was one of my favorite superheroes – I had mixed feelings and a lot of questions. They weren’t killing off Peter Parker, were they? How could that end a series this old?

The day issue 700 released I downloaded the digital version to my computer and read it. The whole comic was 97 pages long, though the last 45 pages consisted of some fluff and Stan Lee’s final appearance in the Q&A section. Thanks to David (who will hopefully join me for a future episode very soon), I got caught up with the story that was going on and read all 52 of Spidey’s final issue.

Overall, I can say I was content with what Dan Slott did with the story. Why am I only content? Let me start off with what I liked. Slott gave fans a good look into Peter Parker’s heart, which has always been an important part of the character since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko brought him to life in 1962. It’s the reason I think I connect with Peter/Spider-Man.

The time-ticking pace of #700 kept me on the edge the whole time, although I already knew that they were going to kill off Peter. (I didn’t know exactly how it was going to work, but the info had been leaked online somewhere.) I’m a fan of thrillers and movies where “time is of the essence”, so the style appealed to me.

The scene in which Peter (in Doctor Octopus’ body) has a heart attack and gets a glimpse of heaven really hit me hard. Having been a fan of the character and knowing so much of the history of the long-running series, this scene tugged at my heart strings. Especially when Uncle Ben tells Peter that he needs to stop Doc Ock. I simply loved the emotion that seemed to leak off the page.

Octavius’ flashbacks at the end of the book was an unexpected treat for me. Seeing him replace Peter in so many great Spider-Man moments pulled (yet again) at my emotions. And it gave me mixed feelings, too. So… what didn’t I like?

My biggest complaint with this book and the two that I read before it were – oddly enough – not Dan Slott. My problem was Humberto Ramos’ artwork. It seemed sloppy to me. Seeing as this was the final issue, I would have expected something more beautiful. An article I read somewhere online said they would have loved to see Sara Pichelli take on this book instead of Ramos. To some this could be seen as a minor thing, but it skewed my take on the book, to be honest.

There seemed to be an ever-growing creepiness every single time Doc Ock (as Peter/Spider-Man) was with Mary Jane. It seemed, pardon the term, pedophilistic. But what else do you expect from a super villain, right? (Yuck.)

Doc Ock seemed to always be one step ahead of Peter during their encounters in the issue. The premise was that they shared thoughts, so my question was – and still is – “If Ock can know what Peter knows, then why can’t it be the other way around?”

The flashbacks at the end of the book gave me the most mixed feelings. One side of me liked that they did it, but it seemed like a forced device in order to get people to accept the fact that Peter was dead and Doc Ock would become Superior Spider-Man.

All in all I would have to recommend The Amazing Spider-Man #700 to anyone that loves Spidey. It’s a good read and actually makes me want to see what tricks Dan Slott has up his sleeve for Superior Spider-Man. By the way, I have read issue one of Superior and have to say that I wasn’t too impressed. I’ll be keeping an eye on it, though, because like I said, I do love me some web-slingin’.