Amazing Spider-man #700: Why it Disappoints
SPOILER WARNING! I will be discussing this story in great detail, so don't read any further if you don't want to be spoiled.
My thoughts on how this finale dropped the ball.
I realize many of you prefer to read your articles instead of watching videos, so I've written it up so you have the choice of which version you prefer. There are two major elements of this story to look at: Peter's death and the transition to Doc Ock as the new Spider-man. In my opinion, both were pretty poorly executed.
Doc Ock is a better Spider-man
It really felt like out of place to imply that Doc Ock is a better Spider-man than Peter in his final issue. First there is the moment when they're falling and Peter sees that Doc Ock was able to make a better web cushion than he ever did. Doc Ock has only been in Peter's body for about a day and already he's using his webs in a way Peter never thought of in all the years he was Spider-man. There's also the ending which I'll touch on later.
When Peter talked to Uncle Ben, he was told that he no longer had to carry the responsibility of being Spider-man to make up for his mistake. However, Uncle Ben told him that he needed to do this one last thing as Spider-man before he could rest: get his body back from Doc Ock. When it comes down to it, Peter Parker fails in the very last thing he tried to accomplish. He was defeated. Arguably, the larger mission was to save his loved ones from Doc Ock, and he did that by turning Ock good, but he was still bested and had to go for the consolation prize.
No one knows Peter died
Peter dies in Doc Ock's withered, sickly body. He never had a chance to say goodbye to his loved ones. They won't mourn his loss. The world won't honor his sacrifice. The combination of all this felt like a pretty terrible send-off for this character.
Doc Ock as the successor
The transition to being a good guy was too quick
All of this happened in one issue, mostly in the last few pages. During the fight with Scorpion, Doc Ock knocks Scorpion's jaw off and realizes that Peter must have been holding back all these years. At that point, he gains a some respect for how Spider-man has handled himself but not enough to really change him. Then, in Peter's dying moment, he reached out through a mental connection and makes Doc Ock feel all of the emotions that Peter felt through the years as he went through the trials of being Spider-man. All of a sudden Doc Ock is a good guy because he respects and sympathizes with Spider-man. If this had been more gradual it would have made more sense, but it all happened so quickly and felt rather cheap.
His conflict with spider-man wasn't personal enough
Doc Ock has had a long lasting rivalry with Spider-man, but his conflict with Peter wasn't quite personal enough for this reconciliation to carry the intended emotional weight. Norman Osborn is definitely Peter's arch nemesis and with the history they have and the great hatred Peter has for him, it would have been more meaningful to see him reform. Eddie Brock started out with a great hatred for Peter Parker, so to see the two of them find an understanding before Peter's death would have also been a good option. The basic concept of a villain becoming Spider-man isn't terrible, but they could have made a better choice.
As for heroes, my top choice would have been Flash Thompson. He has been around since issue one and has a long history with Peter Parker. He idolizes Spider-man and as the central character of the new Venom series, has proven he can carry a story. It would have been difficult to write a good way for him to transition from Venom to Spider-man, but it could have worked and I definitely would have been satisfied to see him finally uncover the truth about his longtime friend and step into his shoes.
"Superior Spider-man" just feels like an insult to Peter
When a character dies, he's usually given a lot of respect by those who knew him. In the case of character's who had other's take up their mantle, you normally see the successor trying to live up to that legacy and honor the life of the person who came before them. (Dick Grayson becoming Batman, Bucky Barnes becoming Captain America, Miles Morales becoming Ult. Spider-man etc.) This makes the transition easier because the audience sees that the successor respects the character as much as they do. In the case of Doc Ock, moments after Peter has died and Ock has gained this new respect for him, he starts talking about how he's going to be better. Who on Earth honors someone by saying that they're going to be a better version of them? Superior Spider-man as a title really is an insult to Peter Parker, which is a terrible way to try to transition. The fan base is attached and loyal to Peter, so for many of us there's going to be a natural resistance to getting behind a character who calls himself better than the hero we loved. Supporting a "Superior" Spider-man almost feels like a betrayal of Peter Parker. It's really just a terrible idea for a title and a premise.
Can you really transition after 50 years?
Spider-man is one of the most iconic superheroes in existence. In the past 50 years, he has not only had his comic book series, but he's been featured in many cartoons, movies, video games, etc. The fact that Peter Parker is Spider-man is ingrained in the public consciousness. At this point, I doubt you can ever really pass the torch to another character. It's like when Dick Grayson became Batman. Even throughout that time, if you went to the Wikipedia page it would tell you Bruce Wayne was Batman. Same with Captain America. There are some identities you can pass down (Robin, Green Lantern, The Flash) and there are some you can't. As the animated series Ultimate Spider-man (unfortunately) continues, kids will see Peter as Spider-man. When the sequel to The Amazing Spider-man comes out, the world will see Peter as Spider-man. Peter Parker fans aren't going anywhere. We'll be patiently (of impatiently) waiting until Marvel undoes this crap and gives us back the amazing, superior, and ONLY Spider-man, Peter Parker.
(Sorry, Miles. Maybe you should be Ultimate Scarlet Spider.)
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