Josh Wilding Reviews: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700; "Dying Wish: Suicide Run"
Arguably one of the most controversial comic books to ever be released by Marvel, here is my verdict on Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos' Amazing Spider-Man #700 (on sale today) which sees the introduction of a NEW Spidey. Be warned, MAJOR SPOILERS for the landmark issue follow!
With all of the rumours and speculation surrounding Amazing Spider-Man #700, I pretty much got to the point of having already decided that I wouldn't like it. Replacing Peter Parker? WHAT?! How dare Dan Slott even consider the idea! And with a villain no less? Well, just as I was sharpening my pitchfork and finding a torch to light, I actually read the issue and have only one thing to say to the writer: You f*cking nailed it man! During his run on the book, Slott has been responsible for arguably some of the best Spider-Man tales ever (issues #600 and #655 instantly spring to mind), but this may just be his greatest yet. Yes, he "kills" Peter Parker and yes, it is now Otto Octavius who is Spider-Man. There's no getting around just how upsetting and controversial this is sure to be for some fans. However, if you really believe that the writer doesn't have something else up his sleeve, well, you should probably take into account the fact that he has been building up to this particular tale for one hundred issues of the series. When a story is this well told and this cleverly handled, it's time to sit back and let the man tell the story he wants!
There's not a superhero in the world I love more than Spider-Man and that has been the case since I was five years old. I started reading comic books on a monthly basis when I was twelve (around the time Spider-Man came out in cinemas) and all of that baggage makes Amazing Spider-Man #700 a difficult read. Seeing Peter Parker trapped in the dying body of Doctor Octopus as he leads a group of murderous villains in an attempt to defeat Ock isn't easy. Neither is the fact that he eventually makes the decision to throw himself and "Spider-Man" out of Avengers Tower, thereby resulting in him doing something we know that he would never normally let happen ("I was ending your life. That's a line I swore I'd never cross," says Peter). The fact he eventually fails in defeating Ock arguably makes for a far more interesting and poignant read than had he actually succeeded. Issue #700 is a superbly written comic book, and regardless of whether it's seeing the Ock in Peter's body as he interacts with Mary Jane - it's creepy as hell! - or how the villain continues to outsmart the increasingly desperate Spider-Man, this is true edge of your seat stuff. We feel just as panic stricken and desperate as Peter does as the issue goes on and the powerful ending is what ultimately makes this such a standout comic - Slott clearly cares for this character.
As Peter Parker dies in the arms of one of his greatest foes, we get an extremely touching sequence between the two as Ock finally realises the responsibilities that come with being Spider-Man. What this means is that instead of this being as simple as a villain running around causing chaos in Peter's body, Ock has been set on a far more heroic path as he sees what it truly means to be a hero. Of course, his arrogance ALSO means that he intends to be a "Superior" version, so there's no doubting just how interesting a position we're left in as readers. For me, Superior Spider-Man will most definitely be a must-read. So, Slott nails it in terms of writing, but how about the art? Well, Humberto Ramos' style isn't to everyone's liking, but this too is some of his best work. The guy just knows how to draw Spider-Man, and while his Doctor Octopus sometimes looks a little TOO disfigured and monstrous, his character work is spot on and the scenes between Peter and Uncle Ben (not to mention ALL of the action sequences) are just beautifully rendered.
As controversial as it is upsetting, Amazing Spider-Man #700 is not only one great looking comic book, but also a powerful read and undoubtedly one of Slott's best pieces of work yet.
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