By thecomicscove 3 Comments
Originally posted a couple weeks ago on my blog, The Comics Cove.
Warning: This post has spoilers about the story arc leading up to Amazing Spider-Man #700. If you don't want to be spoiled, then please don't read any further. You have been warned.
In the aftermath of ASM #700, I've been hearing a lot of hate directed at the storyline, its writer Dan Slott, and the overall state of Spider-Man in general. I've heard terms like "disrespectful," "lame," and "unfit" bandied around and lobbed like grenades in reference to the death Peter Parker endured. A number of long-time Spider-Man fans and readers have declared they will not stick around for a Spider-Man title that doesn't include Peter Parker. There have been unfavorable comparisons of this story to the Clone Saga and the egregious One More Day. In other words, the reactions have been extreme, voluminous, and plenty.
As one of those long-time Spidey readers and a fan who considers the web-slinger my favorite among superheroes, I have to disagree with the large volume of negative chatter out there. To be sure, I wasn't exactly thrilled at Peter's death, but I came away from this story far less offended than I had been by the end of One More Day (henceforth OMD).
I've already reviewed the final issue of the series, but I didn't expand much on how this storyline, for me, bests OMD, another controversial storyline that bequeathed a huge change to the Spider-Man status quo. I'd planned to do so as a follow-up post in this blog, but a friend's response to my review link on Facebook prompted me to write it there. He had issues with the amount of disrespect he perceived in Peter's death, as well as other loose plot ends, such as Octo-Spidey's (btw, PLEASE stop calling him Spock, people. There's already a very popular character by that name in the Star Trek franchise) relationships to MJ and Aunt May.
I address those things, as well as make a direct comparison to OMD, in my re-posted response below:
We don't always get the ending we want for our heroes. I had this same debate with Alex during the whole "will Bruce die in DKR?" discussion many months ago. I think the moral victory is what becomes important in these cases, and I think that's where Peter won out in this conflict. Sometimes they have to win where they can in these kinds of situations, and I feel that's what happened.
What was important to Peter Parker at the end? Yes, getting his body back and beating Ock would have been best. An all-out sacrifice saving those he loved would have also worked. But neither of those things happened, because Octavius out-muscled and out-thought him on both fronts. Which makes sense, as they're both brilliant men who know how the other thinks.
When it became clear that neither of those things was going to happen, did Peter give up? No. At that point, it became paramount to not let Doctor Octopus run around in his body, using it to do evil as Spider-Man and Peter Parker. THAT ending would have been a huge middle finger to the character. Peter used their connection to show all of his most important memories to Octavius as Peter's life flashed before his eyes, in a sense bonding them to him, making Octavius really see things from another perspective.
Octavius, shaken and humbled, becomes a different man, and vows to carry on as best he can in Peter's name. He's still Octavius, of course--hence the "better than you ever were" moment at the end--but he's been diverted from his more sinister original intentions. He will try to be a hero. Peter wins, at least on that front, and it can be argued that's the most important one at this point.
And as for mourning, appreciation... Peter will get those things from Octavius. Not ideal, I admit, but it does work in an odd way, given everything that's gone down.
Regarding relations with MJ... well, I'm not sure how to feel about that, but it's been made clear that he's pursuing her on that front. I think it's less of a problem for me than it would have been if they were still married, but the OMD train wreck effectively nixes that. From that point to now, there's been the unspoken possibility of them getting together, but nothing solid--until, ironically, Octavius arrived. And while I get the squick factor in Octavius having sexy time with MJ, I'm thinking that this subplot is one of those tests for Superior Spidey's new character. I'm curious to see how it pans out, and really not sure what to think until then.
Regarding May... yeah. Weird. I'm pushing that out of my head. I'm sure Octavius will, too.
I think what makes this story much more palatable for me than OMD comes down to two points.
First and foremost, different and better choices were made by the hero. In OMD, Peter chooses to selfishly sacrifice his marriage to bring back his dying aunt, who by all measures should have been allowed to die. He just couldn't handle the guilt. It was one of the most un-heroic moments in the mythos, and was chiefly the result of a lack of testicles on the part of the editorial staff to tell some actually realistic Spider-Man stories in the wake of Civil War. It's what made me nerd-rage like I never have in the past.
Here, Peter doesn't take the easy way out. He fights, and never gives up despite the overwhelming situation he's in. And even when he knows he'll die, he still fights on, trying to convert Octavius into a hero. It is, in my opinion, one of the most respectful ways to have your hero handle that kind of no-win scenario. That he does convert Octavius is what makes this his final victory.
Second, this story didn't come out of left field, like OMD did. In OMD, May gets shot, Peter tries desperately to save her (which he should), and is (quite literally) magically shown there's nothing he can do to save her. All is lost, and then ALONG COMES MEPHISTO, offering a deal. It's Diablo ex Machina, with all the magic trappings thrown in to emphasize it. The editors wanted Pete and MJ's marriage dissolved, and quickly, and it plainly shows here. No respect given to that at all.
Here, this story's been building for quite some time. Clues and red herrings have abounded for the last 100 issues, from when Ock returned. If you look back to Spider Island, Ends of the Earth, etc., you can see pieces of the puzzle, and shudder at how they've been used in the most recent storyline. There was planning that went into this story, and it shows. You can not say that for OMD.
The points I made above are pretty much what I would have said in a follow-up post, and are the primary reason I urge Spider-Man readers to give Dan Slott the benefit of the doubt here. I know Octavius in Peter Parker's body is a controversial, unnerving, and distasteful proposition. But it's also a huge opportunity to tell some very interesting stories that you couldn't have done with Peter Parker, and Slott has been all about the interesting stories in his run on this series.
I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here. I think true fans of Spider-Man will be, as well.