The Superior Spider-Man
“It’s just going to return to the status quo in a year anyway!”
“Worst thing since ‘One More Day’!”
Those are the most common reactions to the conclusion of The Amazing Spider-Man #700. Following the release of Superior Spider-Man #1, add in a huffy, “See? It won’t last!” Comic book fans are jaded, snarky and somehow committed to a both-and ideology that demands significant changes in the books they’re reading while requiring that nothing changes the spirit of the book. The internet has made listening to comic fans even worse. That’s probably why the publishers stopped listening to them a long time ago.
For those reading who don’t know what happened lately in the world of Spider-Man, it’s quite a doozy. Doctor Octopus was on his deathbed by the time his final scheme to best Spider-Man happened – essentially a reprogramming of each other’s brains. The mind of Doc Ock was transferred into the body of Spider-Man and Spider-Man’s mind was placed in the body of the dying Doc Ock. It was not a perfect job, though. Both individuals ended up with both sets of memories, which means Doc Ock came to know who Spider-Man was an experienced his entire history and Spider-Man came to some understanding of the abusive upbringing Doc Ock had. In the end, Spidey in Ock’s body tried to pull together a group of individuals to capture his body, failed, helped to bring to the surface the reasons why he became Spider-Man, and died. Doctor Octopus ended up inspired by the great power and responsibility rhetoric and decided to honor the death of his enemy by becoming Spider-Man – a superior Spider-Man.
Up to speed, now?
The first issue of Superior Spider-Man ends with Spidey calling the media together to watch him destroy the latest iteration of the Sinister Six (a group Octopus used to lead), but the ghost or spirit of Peter Parker stops him from murdering Boomerang. For those who figured out that the mind-swap storyline would have a backdoor, be proud of that for whatever it’s worth. Future issues may explain how this was able to happen, especially since Peter seems to be on a subconscious level that Octavius doesn’t even notice, but speculation is that Octopus was only able to overlay his personality. As evidenced by the lingering memories of the host, the original is still in there. Now what remains to be seen is if the host personality will naturally take over, there will be a fight, or even if there might be some sort of separation. What we know for sure, though, is that when this is over, Doctor Octopus is dead.
The change to the Spider-Man status quo is a welcome one, despite what people on the internet, threatening writer Dan Slott’s life, are saying. It’s pretty clear to me that this was supposed to be a shorter storyline in The Amazing Spider-Man that Marvel pushed back and expanded just so they could have a new #1 issue on the stands for the Marvel NOW! sales campaign. Regardless, this opens up storytelling options that were not previously available. Only when you put something else in the suit (or the body) can you really explore the question, “What makes Spider-Man Spider-Man?” We’ve seen his great deeds in the past and we know who he is, but only now can we really get at the core of the character. What about the character makes him that which is immortalized in modern mythology?
The vocal comic complainers are definitely missing out on a great comic book experiment. Even if they don’t like the idea of what’s going on, and most comic readers seem to not like any idea, that’s not all there is to get out of a story. Dan Slott will continue to be a great writer, and there will be some interesting character moments. The naysayers are going to feel vindicated for not following the series in the end when Parker takes over his body again, but they’re going to be missing out on a fun ride.
BONUS: For those of you who followed this blog on Google+ when I was trying to be more active on it, I predicted this outcome back in October (https://plus.google.com/113795848855477334599/posts/3hwcTjBRejM).