Last pull list of the year, and on the positive side we only have two books out this week. On the negative side, one is an extra large issue and both herald the end of a series and a legacy. Includes AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 and AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #15.1.
We finally made it people. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700. From here on, the series is canceled, to be replaced with SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN. And indeed, quite a bit changes in this large issue. Spiderman will no longer be amazing.
I debated whether to actually spoil the ultimate end of this book, given that it really does alter the course of the franchise. Finally I decided to stick to my guns and treat this like any other issue. Spoiler free.
Which is not to say I won’t be giving my thoughts about the nature of the finale. Await that at a later date, because it’s a piece of work, and I still need to decide how I feel about it.
To catch people up, Doctor Otto Octavius, long-time Spiderman foe, is dying. His body wrecked from years of beatings at the hands of his arch nemesis. In a desperate attempt to save himself, Doc Ock used his science to swap the minds of himself and Peter Parker. He has stolen the life of Peter Parker/Spiderman and left the latter to ride the decrepit body to death.
So obviously, Peter has no intention of allowing his worst enemy to run around in the body of a hero. Regardless of whether Spiderman dies, Doctor Octopus cannot be allowed to live. To this end, Peter used Otto’s contacts to enlist the aid of the Trapster, the Scorpian, and Hydro-man in an incomplete Sinister Six. Now the two engage in one last dance, with their parts swapped but their wills nonetheless focused.
Sorry I’m getting all poetic. It’s kind of a big deal.
From the perspective of objective quality, this was a stellar installment. Most of the lingering plot threads set up over the last…I wanna say dozen issues but it’s really more like a hundred issues, are tied up. Of particular note in my opinion is J. Jonah Jameson, and how he’s finally both reconciled with his father, and how he’s more or less stopped being antagonistic towards Spiderman.
For what that’s worth. It’s complicated.
Speaking of Jameson, Matt Gargan (the Scorpian) has had a long-standing hatred for the newspaper editor turned mayor ever since J. Jonah turned him into the villain he is today in the interests of fighting Spiderman. This was way back in the first few issues of Amazing Spiderman back in the sixties. That long plot thread is “resolved” to an extent. Maybe, his ultimate fate remains unclear. On a related note, the Doc Ock/Spiderman rivalry began also in the early issues of ASM. Octavius wasn’t the first villain introduced back then, that honor goes to the Vulture (if not the Fantastic Four, having captured Spiderman in the first issue). And finally the whole Mary Jane situation is coming together…kind of. Given the resolution to this issue, the fact that the forced break up between Peter Parker and Mary Jane seems moot.
Almost like Marvel is screwing with us by giving us a portion of what we want at a time when it starts to not matter.
In addition to the main story which was excellent, the big 700th issue comes with two backup stories, which are mixed at best. The first is an okay alternate reality story, where a much older Peter Parker regales his lazy, disinterested grandson about his history as the Amazing Spiderman. It uses the advancement of time and Peter’s own faulty memory to give a broad strokes summary of Spiderman as a whole, as befitting such a historic occasion. It’s also I think an essay on what could have been, had Marvel not gone in a completely new direction. That new direction being Superior Spiderman. It’s a pretty good story all told, which makes things all the more bittersweet.
The second story is a largely forgettable – though artistically well crafted – eight page tale involving the Black Cat leading the police on a wild goose chase so Spiderman can get real superheroics done. It’s cute in its own way, but I doubt anyone would miss it if Marvel neglected to collect the thing in a trade. You miss exactly nothing by not reading it.
The rest of the page-count is stuffed with bonus material, such as the alternate covers – including an unused cover by Spiderman co-creator Steve Ditko; the official proclamation from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomburg commemorating last year’s Spiderman Day; an extensive letters column with Stan Lee answering fan-submitted questions; and several pages devoted to archiving all 700 issue covers, starting with Amazing Spiderman #1. This last bit is rather interesting to look through, as it logs the book through its long print run. The world is truly poorer to see the streak end.
Thanks Marvel. You’ve deprived us of yet another candidate for 1000+ issues. I need a drink.
Next (and last) of this week (and year) is yet another Spider book, AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #15.1. It’s a Point One issue, of course. All this comes down to is the immediate aftermath of the events of ASM #700, and how the new and improved “Superior Spiderman” is adjusting to his new station in life. A station I can’t talk about because it would spoil things.
So I guess there’s nothing to talk about?
Well, I can comment on the new costume. Except no I can’t because it has elements to it that spoil the end to ASM if I were to describe them. So again, what do I talk about? I’ve got nothing. I can’t explain any of the new elements that came up in the Spiderman books because they all violate the no spoil policy. The only option I have is to make an entirely separate post exploring my thoughts on the matter. So expect that sometime in the next few days.
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