Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Amazing Spider-Man #698. Buy it here and read along with us.
This week's issue of The Amazing Spider-Man kicks off a three-issue arc that Marvel and series writer Dan Slott have teased will conclude the series by following up on plot threads left dangling as far back as #600. While it didn't happen during that time, there's a certain, controversial story that wrapped in #545 which many fans wonder might inform some of what's going on in the next month or so.
It was One More Day, after all, that stripped Spider-Man of his nearly twenty-year status quo and restored his youth and bachelorhood. Along the way, he lost his marriage to Mary Jane and any memory of any number of other events that had happened to him in his recent character history. All of this came as the result of a deal with Mephisto, Marvel's version of the Devil, who restored Aunt May to health and vitality following an assassination attempt on Peter and Mary Jane that left May clinging to life.
The story has drawn criticism from a number of directions; some fans are outraged that their hero would make a deal with the devil, while others are simply upset at the results of that deal (the retconning of years of stories). Some readers were simply irked by what seemed like poor storytelling and a faulty internal logic to the story's narrative.
In any event, none of that mattered because the events of One More Day weren't a means to other storytelling ends, but an end unto themselves; Marvel honcho Joe Quesada, who drew the series and wrote the final issue after series writer J. Michael Straczynski asked his name be removed from the credits, had determined that Peter was a more valuable character to Marvel as a young, single man more like the publisher's target demographic. All the collateral damage done to the timeline and continuity? It's magic; we don't have to explain it.
And for a while now, Spider-Man has existed in a world where he doesn't have any memory of what he did, or what he lost.
Starting with this week's issue, though, we learned something rather critical: that longtime Spidey villain Dr. Octopus has somehow managed to swap bodies with Spider-Man. Doc Ock is now young, vital and sporting the proportional strength of a spider, whereas Peter Parker is stuck in the body of Otto Octavius, at death's door and flat-lining the last time we saw him. There's no explanation for this either, just yet, and in fact Doc Spidey specifically referenced when he was taunting Peter that he wasn't going to reveal his methodology. Things are coming to Octavius in spurts, oddly disjointed memories coming to him when needed. And that begs the question: will he remember the world before One More Day?
There's been some speculation that Octavius's "dying wish" may in fact have been granted by Mephisto. That would bring One More Day and Dying Wish full circle, and set up a scenario where Peter has to face the consequences of making a deal with the devil. Another alternative presented has been that if Doc Ock were to die while in Peter's body, it might put him in a position to have to deal with Mephisto, too. In any case, some insight into how Dr. Octopus took over Peter's body could be key to determining whether the memories to which Peter has no access may become available to Doc Ock.