With one of comics' longest-running series coming to a close this week and a new #1 planned for a brand new lead character wearing (a variation on) the hero's costume, Amazing Spider-Man #700 has been drawing a ton of responses. We wanted to assemble some impressions as a kind of roundtable review, taking a look at this epic issue in its context and evaluating the strength of the story contained between the pages of those many variant covers.
Check back throughout the day, as we'll be updating periodically when new impressions come in.
By Martin A. Kinney, Oswego Comic Shop
With today's Amazing Spider-Man #700 Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos bring us the final issue of Amazing Spider-Man--and what a can of worms they open and hurl at the audience.
I had really high hopes for this issue and was rooting for Dan Slott to impress me. To his credit there are several wonderful moments in the story, sadly they pale in comparison to the BIG END.
The opening sequence finds Doctor Octopus in Peter’s body trying to have a “romantic moment” with Mary Jane Watson. It is a rather dark and off-putting with the most disturbing "Face it tiger" delivery ever. Thankfully the scene is cut short by a report that Doctor Octopus's ravaged body (with Peter's mind trapped in it) has not only survived a brush with death, but has escaped from prison.
This begins a race for Peter to evade the police, keep his escape partners in check, hunt down Doc Ock and switch consciences back all before the body he is in dies. Meanwhile, Ock in Peter's body has set about to prevent Peter from regaining his own body.
The action comes to a head at Avengers Tower where Doc Ock Spidey has brought all of Peter's loved ones to "protect" them. Despite Peter's best efforts, he fails to switch back to his own body. Luckily, before he dies he convinces Doc Ock to reform and continue on as Spidey.
There is a sequence while Peter is at death's door where he goes to the afterlife and sees all the important people in his life who have passed away. I really liked it, but would have preferred to see it at the end of the story instead. Maybe there is something like this in this week's issue of Avenging Spider-Man, I don't know. What I do know is that Peter's send-off seemed lacking.
I also liked seeing the supporting cast from the Brand New Day era. They each got a little moment. I liked J. Jonah Jameson making nice with his father. It is good to see his nice side every once in a while.
Sadly, I did not enjoy much else.
In the end Peter’s victory rings hollow. A half victory, that could easily be undone the next time someone questions Doc Ock’s ego. I found the “walk a mile in my shoes” examination of Peter’s life by Doc Ock to be a hokey way to get him to reform and pledge to be the best Spider-Man he can be. I loathed the fact that MJ declared her love to Doc Ock instead of Peter. I think it’s the lack of interaction with his loved ones before he dies that doesn't help me with a sense of closure. It is a bit of a dull thud as far as heroic farewells go.
The extended main story is followed by a cover gallery featuring the many variant covers produced for this Mighty Marvel Milestone event. I think I like Marcos Martin’s contribution best. There is a copy of Mayor Bloomberg’s proclamation for New York City’s Spider-Day. J.M. DeMatteis provides a back-up story that is high on sentimentality and maybe a little too long at 16 pages. "A Date Night," a second back up story from Jen Van Meter and Stephanie Buscema, focuses on Black Cat and is a light and breezy romp. The rest of the page count is devoted to cover galleries, letters pages and previews for rest of the Spider-Family books.
When all is said and done I am left hoping that Peter’s statement, “I can never be Spider-Man again”, is false and he does don the red and blue tights again in the near future. Not because Peter is the only person who IS Spider-Man (I love Ben Reilly and have nothing against Miles Morales), but rather because Doc Ock, with his superior attitude, is not a character I feel the desire to follow month in and out.
By Jeff Watkins, Cloud City Comics and Toys
Ok Mr. Slott. You have my attention.
Like other longtime readers of The Amazing Spider-Man, I firmly believe that the J. Michael Straczynski run was one of the true peaks of the title's legendary lifespan, and the best Spidey stuff in twenty years. There was little anyone could do to get me passionately reading ASM after he left the book.
However, with #698 I couldn't wait for the new issues to arrive.
I own a store in NY, so I got to read #700 early and while I never breathed a word of it to anyone online or in person, out of respect for the real magic that is comics, I am intrigued about Superior Spider-Man. For the first time in years I really cannot wait to see what happens next.
For decades now, Peter Parker has given the readers hope because he somehow finds a way. No matter how awful things get or how abused he is by his life, he perseveres.
Of course readers cannot bear Peter being gone, or Peter not pulling through. It's like, it's like, Bucky returning! (Oh wait.) It's like, Jason Todd not being dead. (Yeah. Bad example.)
We read comics because we think outside the box and embrace a form of storytelling that traditionally bucks convention. We accept that and we step outside our comfort zones.
In that spirit, I think the possible redemption of Dr. Otto Octavious' soul through the plight of the life of Peter Parker, is a great story and I am grateful it is being told. I think the inevitable and eventual return of Peter Parker is going to be a great story too. So, you have my attention Mr. Slott. You have me back. I am fascinated.
In a year filled with excellent comics, I can look at Amazing Spider-Man #700 and honestly say that we are ending the year on a good note.
Marvel NOW! has, at least to me, signaled a chance to bring in the possibly-non-existent-but-let's-still-try "new reader" by starting or at least appearing to be starting new story lines from the ground floor.
As an example, someone curious about the Avengers can pick up from #1 and know they're at the beginning of a new storyline that doesn't require checking out what has come before. While several books do follow some recent stories like Avengers vs. X-Men, they aren't required to be able to catch on.
I actually like that the history is there for those who want it; unlike the New 52, it doesn't play all of those past stories as pointless or possibly never happening. However, I do like that they're good jumping on points, and the best of the lot -- including All-New X-Men, Avengers, FF, and Indestructible Hulk -- seem to be exemplifying that.
With all of those books mentioned above, there is a connection to the worlds that average Joes might know from other media. Iron Man and Captain America are right in the middle of the organizing in Avengers #1. Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine are all known to people as X-Men, even if the version(s) of them aren't EXACTLY what you saw in the movies. It works.
And then there's the Superior Spider-Man.
I think Dan Slott is a great writer, and, while I'll never love the idea of "Spider-Man makes a deal with the devil" to make "Brand New Day"/"Big Time," there have been some fantastic stories in the last five years, and Slott in particular has introduced some great supporting characters to Spider-Man's book in that time. But the biggest issue I have, if the end of Amazing Spider-Man #700 is indeed the status quo, is that it complicates the character more than it improves upon him.
"Peter Parker appears to be Spider-Man, but now he's Doctor Octopus who switched bodies with him, but he still has some of Peter Parker's memories" might even be harder to understand and get into than "that blond haired guy Ben Reilly who works in a coffee shop is the original Peter Parker, but now he's back again, but since there's another Peter Parker…"
You might see where I'm going with this. Ben as Spider-Man lasted about a year, and Ben was a character people actually even liked. The Clone Saga also mostly killed the Spider-Man franchise for a few years. So now try to replace Spider-Man with a villain, and convince us this is a good idea?
What's next, a Spider-Man relaunch where it's a girl - Jonah's niece - in a suit pretending to be Spider-Man for the first few issues?
People just got to see a new Spider-Man with the Amazing Spider-Man in theaters this summer. Considering there isn't even a Peter Parker in the Ultimate universe, are back issues or trade paperbacks what they would look for? Are we honestly suggesting that Peter won't be back by 2014, when we get Amazing Spider-Man #1/701/whatever, with his triumphant return? And why is Avenging Spider-Man still a thing?
I'm hoping this is temporary. Maybe it's a "New Coke" style fake-out, where we get so annoyed with Ock-as-Pete that we REALLY appreciate him more when he's back? No matter what, though, I don't think hoarding these issues because they'll be valuable someday will be a good idea -- because it'll all be back to normal soon enough. For me, though, I've now got a Spider-Man I can't relate to at all, and if I'm not feeling it, I won't be along for the ride.
By Kevin Huxford
Well, I guess folks can't complain it's just a different face wearing the same suit, as they sometimes do with legacies giving way to new versions.
Dan Slott is a very talented writer and this is on display for possibly the first half or so of his contribution to the issue, never more so than his weaving together two separate, crackpot plans from opposing sides. If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to digest two geniuses not realizing that they each possessed the same "advantage", there are some solid comedic beats. If the first half suffers anything, it is possibly a bit too compressed, which necessitates jumping from scene to scene in ways that hurt the story a bit.
It's the last act that hurts the overall story.
I freely admit that it is difficult to separate judging the work from one's feelings about the direction. It is a ballsy move, but one that leaves me scratching my head over the risk/reward ratio. The first issue of Superior Spider-Man might as well have "THE NEW DIRECTION ABSOLUTELY NO ONE WAS ASKING FOR" splashed above the title. That's a helluva hole to start out in. I don't see where there is an angle that leads to even one year of interesting stories. Again, I'll cop to the fact that my inability to see where good, entertaining stories launch from this doesn't constitute proof that they won't come out of seemingly nowhere. But, if you live in Vegas and can find someone taking action on it, I'd bet everything you own on this being the way to finally clear out the deal with the devil from the franchise.
That said, I honestly think the final act has faults that are independent of the whole "Doc Ock in a Spidey-Shaped Box" move. Sappy, emotional flashbacks are difficult to pull off with real weight in a comic book, because the medium makes it easier to see the strings being pulled than any other. Few can pull it off and, in this issue, Slott isn't one of those few. Doc Ock seeing all the tough moments in Peter's life and remarking how difficult it is to go on lands with a thud on every line of dialogue. Choosing to have Ock see himself as Peter, down to the wrap around glasses, made it unintentionally funny. That they rehabbed the good Doctor in a microwave piles on top of it all and is where I feel they demonstrate that this is all a setup for the return of Pete, with all of his devil-wiped memories restored.
Let me make this clear: independent of the usual "they'd never let him stay dead" knowledge as a consumer, the launch of this new direction appears to immediately telegraph its planned undoing.
Slott is capable of much better than this, but it feels like his pacing of the larger story put him in a spot where he had to shoehorn a lot into this issue, with the finished product being much worse for the wear. Absent the whole "woo hoo, 700, baby" aspect, he'd have been allowed to bring it to a head more naturally.
To sum up: the first half or so is solid and enjoyable, if a bit rushed, while the significantly more hurried final act is sappy, sloppy and, unfortunately, drags the whole thing down.
By Graham Scherl, Inside Pulse
I think the thing that gets me the most is that this is actually a really good issue. I mean, from the first page all the way through the end, this is an amazing book, I couldn’t put it down. I had heard the spoiler over a week ago, but I could not put the book down. I just kept reminding myself that Dan Slott told everyone to keep context in mind. So the end of the main story came up, and I got to the context, and I got to the spoiler, and the issue was just ruined for me.
There’s no sense of permanence to the ending at all, and I can’t imagine it lasting until this time next year. I respect the balls behind the move by Slott, but this is Spider-Man, and a change of this magnitude just can’t last. No more than the Death of Superman, or Dick Grayson as Batman, or anyone other than Steve Rogers in the Captain America uniform. You can get good stories out of these sorts of things, but at the end of the day you’re never going to see the classics go away. I give this change six months and fifteen issues in this book, God only knows what other books as well. Then I imagine we’ll have status quo Peter back, as well as classic Doc Ock.
Oh well, at least it isn’t the Final Chapter and the Spider-Man relaunch that spun out of it. I don’t know if I could deal with another Mattie Franklin.