By Adam Basciano
“The end of Spider-Man’s world begins when Doctor Octopus discovers who Peter Parker really is. Doctor Octopus has hours left to live. He knows Peter Parker’s secret. He has no master plan–all he wants is vengeance. Which members of Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery will heed Ock’s call to arms? Witness the final hours of Doctor Octopus’ life and his one, last, great act of revenge! Even if Spider-Man survives…will Peter Parker?” (Marvel)
What an ending! It’s stories like this that make reading comic books such a fun experience. I could never have imagined Otto Octavius’ final act of revenge. Using his Octobots to hack into Peter Parker’s brain, rewriting it with all his brain patterns and vice versa. In effect, transferring Peter Parker’s brain into a dying to body. That’s a plan fitting for a mad scientist of Doc Ock’s caliber. Each issue leading up to #700 has holy $h^+ moments. #698 has the ending that reveals what Octavius had done, while #699 is an entire issue of Peter Parker coming to terms with his situation, and doing his best to fight his way out of it!
The final issue, #700, is a tear jerking, action filled stunner worthy to call itself a finale to this four decade long series. Tears were flowing two different times during the reading of this issues. Peter Parker’s near death experience, where he finds himself in heaven, being greeted and praised by all those who died and he thought he had let down. Captain and Gwen Stacy, Marla Jameson and his parents. To ensure the right amount of waterworks, Dan Slott includes one last “call to arms” speech from Uncle Ben. Then there’s the final fight between Spider-Man” and “Doc Ock.” The moment where Peter Parker’s life flashes before both men’s eye’s was another tear-fest. Octavius see’s all that Peter Parker’s been through and done, and is overcome by the weight of it all. He realizes he’ll have to be a much better man to be both Peter Parker and Spider-Man and accepts the challenge. Essentially its similar to Ebenezer Scrooge’s epiphany, minus the Christmas stuff and three spirits.
Art over the course of this arc was handled by two artists. #698 was drawn by Richard Elson, while Humberto Ramos drew #699-700. I have never heard of Richard Elson, but here’s hoping Marvel uses him more on high-profile books such as this. That page of Spider-Man swinging through the air with the high rise buildings behind him looks absolutely incredible! On a side note, I think Mr. Elson has “The Avengers” movie on an endless loop because Captain America and Hawkeye look the spitting image of their film counterparts. I’ve been heavily critical of Humberto Ramos over the last couple of arcs he’s drawn. While I will never be a fan of his particular style, he’s definitely put his best foot forward with these final two issues of this title. The pages of Peter’s near death experience, and Dock Ock reliving all of Peter’s memories is his best work….EVER! I like that Peter looks more like his teenage classic looking self during his near death experience. Also, Ramos draws a great looking sickly Doc Ock. He’s appropriately grotesque.
This is one of those story’s that will split fandom down the middle. Fans of the character will either love it or hate it. I’m in the love it camp. Superhero deaths have been an overused cliché after Superman died. Batman’s death wasn’t a death at all, if you blinked you missed Johnny Storms death, and Captain America got shot on courthouse steps. I applaud Dan Slott for adding a twist to the standard death plot line. Much like every other superhero death scenario, there’s a built-in back door that will no doubt restore Peter Parker in every sense of the word eventually. In the mean time, I’ll swing along for the ride with the Superior Spider-Man.