I certainly can’t condone the actions (going as far as death threats), but after reading Amazing Spider-Man #700 I can see why writer Dan Slott is facing the wrath of Spider-Man fans everywhere. In this final issue Slott and Marvel Comics take a seismic shift in the Spider-Man mythos, something that even the Clone Saga never deemed do. Caution, true believers, spoilers ahead!
We begin with the fallout of Spider-Man’s recent battle with the Sinister Six in which Doctor Octopus has successfully swapped his mind with that of Spider-Man. For Doc Ock that means he’s now Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, however, that means he’s trapped in a dying body.
In the final issue of the series Slott allows Peter Parker to be beaten, and killed, by a super-villain who will go on to usurp his life. Slott doesn’t allow Doc Ock to get off completely as, before his death, Peter forces the new Spider-Man to experience all the memories of the old one, perhaps (slightly) changing his perspective on life.
It’s certainly an interesting idea, particularly for something like Marvel’s now defunct What If… line. But as cannon it can’t help but leave a bad taste in the mouths of every single longtime fan of the character. Is it a good story? That’s arguable, but it’s certainly not a good sendoff for Marvel Comics most recognizable hero. And no, the tacky dream sequence with Peter seeing Uncle Ben, his parents, and the Stacys doesn’t do anything to soften the blow.
My biggest question is why does Marvel Comics hate Spider-Man so much? Over the past two decades they have jerked around with his character to an insane extent trying to freshen up the character (unnecessarily) with repeated reboots. Replaced by a clone. Revealed to the world. Deal with the Devil. And now replaced by a super-villain. Something amazing has been replaced by something far from superior.
The comic also includes back-up stories by other artists and writers, the comic’s final letter’s column, and a tiny, tiny cover gallery in an attempt to bloat the issue and make it worth the ridiculous cover price of $8. It’s not.
I’m sure there will be some who will be looking forward to the fresh take on the new “Superior” Spider-Man, but, following the example laid down in the Ultimate Universe, Peter Parker is dead and replaced (this wasn’t even an original idea). Sure, Marvel is likely to return Peter Parker to the living (perhaps within a year if fan outrage hits critical mass and sales drop), but, to put it bluntly, I honestly don’t care what happens from here on. He was inarguably the heart and soul of Marvel Comics, and the Marvel Universe is going to miss him far more than they know. Pass.