Thursday, 27 December 2012

My Thoughts On 'Amazing Spider-Man' #700


I'm about to spoil the hell out of this final instalment, so don't read this blog if you haven't read issue 700 yet.

So after 50 years, 700 issues, dozens of deaths and enough wise cracks to make Russel Grant seem funny, 'Amazing Spider-Man' and the character of Peter Parker have come to an end. Written by Dan Slott and art done by Humberto Ramos, the main story, 'Dying Wish', is set out to settle the unfinished business between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius. 

Now I'm going to get the plot and good of this story out the way first because I got a major problem with the ending and I will probably go into a big rant about it.

Trapped within what's left of Doctor Octopus' dying body, Peter Parker struggles to take his life back, while Doc Ock further exploits the benefits of becoming Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Slott does do a great job of writing the shock and astonishment that both characters are experiencing as they learn more about their new found bodies and lives. Slott has gone all out on this, creating an emotional, impactful and memorable Spider-Man story, while also creating enough creepy, uneasy feelings into the characters around Doc Ock and Spidey to offer the reader hope that maybe Peter can turn things around for himself.

'Doc Ock Spidey taking on Parker in Ock's body.'

Humberto Ramos is becoming one of my favourite artists to draw Spider-Man. His art is lithe and expressive, cartoony and animated, which some readers are not fans of, but I personally love it. With the help of colourist Edgar Delgado, the Doc Ock version of Peter Parker has a much different appearance, posture and twinkle in his eye the true Parker normally has. Delgado's colouring in thfading memories and dreams segments in particular are brilliantly done and suit Ramos drawings really well in my opinion. There are a couple of points where Ramos' storytelling in his drawings are a bit murky (like when Spidey punches Scorpion's jaw off), but Slott's writing more then makes up for it. 

'Peter getting a glimpse of what's waiting for him on the other side.'
The lead story, in and of itself, is wonderful, heart-wrenching and memorable. For me Peter did need to hang up the tights as Spider-Man as I think that, as much as I like the character, Marvel have done everything the could with him and need a fresh start and new era in the Spider-Man legend.

I have one MAJOR issue though.

The new Spider-Man, Peter Parker's replacement and the self named 'Superior Spider-Man', is Doc Ock PRETENDING he's Peter Parker... And not even as a villain  By the end of the story Doc Ock, despite wanting and nearly blowing up the world earlier this year, has more or less vowed to be a hero. Even for comic book logic (and that's sketchy at he best of times) that makes no goddamn sense!

'The new Superior Spider-Man.'

Like I said before, I've got no problem with them killing off Peter Parker. I was actually one of the few people who like it when Ben Reilly took over from Peter as Spider-Man in the 90's. To me that transition felt natural as Peter was married to Mary-Jane and was expecting a child, so running around risking his life now made no sense. Also Ben had taken the mantle of the Scarlet Spider and had been around as a costume alternative to Spider-Man, so fans were use to him. That was originally meant to be the new status quo for Spider-Man and I was annoyed when they decided to switch back to Peter.

This, however, doesn't feel natural. And it is baffling to think how anyone thinks it is a good idea. If you're going to kill off a character, take him out completely. Having his arch nemesis swap bodies with him, with the intention of pretending to be him as a villain, kill his predecessor then have him turncoat by going through old memories in the spam of two issues makes no sense and feels like it's come from nowhere. In the 'Ultimate' universe they killed off Peter, but his replacement was someone completely new with no ties to Peter and didn't try to be him. He is his own character and has become very popular amongst readers of Marvel. Even bringing back Kaine, who has taken the Scarlet Spider mantle, and making him the new Spider-Man would of been a better idea.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have been a Spider-Man fan all my life, but this new direction has really put me off it. I might be wrong, it might turn out to be one of the best decisions Marvel have made but to be honest I'm not holding out hope. But despite my feelings of how the story ended, I can't overlook the significance of what this issue represents.

The 700th issue of 'Amazing Spider-Man' marks the end of Marvel's longest running title and the death of one the most loved, world renowned and influential characters in our lifetime. For 50 years we as fans have been with Peter Parker through all the laughter, heartache, battles, trails and retributions that made his story so amazing and compelling. The key to what makes Peter so memorable is that he is someone we can relate to as a human being. For me, Peter Parker the greatest character the comic book industry has ever given us and will the fact that it took 50 years to kill him off, which is something Superman and Batman can't claim, says it all.

The line that is most associated with Spider-Man sums up Peter perfectly so that's how I will end this little review. We salute you Peter Parker and we will always remember that:

'With great power, comes great responsibility.'