Weekly Comics Round Up – Special Spider-Man Edition

*Spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #700 ahead!  You have been warned!*

This week was an extremely light week for comics releases.  However, it contained one of the biggest bombshell issues of the year.  Because this week was essentially a skip week for most people, I figured it would be a good time to look at the character of the week, Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man #700

No sense in beating around the bush, this was really the only issue that came out this week.

Again, SPOILERS!!!!  Last warning.

I have never been the biggest Spider-Man fan.  I knew of the character and his basic backstory.  I had seen the Sam Raimi movies and enjoyed the first two.  That third one was just awful though.  It really was not until this year and reading some of the Spider-Man comics that I really started to feel that connection to the character and really understand why he has persisted for over 50 years.

Spider-Man has already had quite a year.  He had his big screen persona rebooted with a new actor.  He celebrated his 50th anniversary with some simply great issues that really hit on what Spider-Man is all about.  Over in the Ultimate universe, Peter Parker is dead and a new person, Miles Morales, has begun his run as a new Spider-Man.

However in the last few issues of Amazing Spider-Man, poor Spidey has had a rough go at it.  He has been fighting the dying Doctor Octopus, and Doc Ock has pulled a new trick on Spider-Man.  Doc Ock has managed to do the classic 80’s movie staple of the body switch.  Peter Parker is now inside the decaying body of Doctor Octopus and Otto Octavius is inside the young and vibrant body of Spider-Man, complete with all of his powers and memories.

Parker is fighting every way he can to get back inside his body and prevent Doc Ock from wreaking untold havoc with his body.

This issue is filled with cliches, both the good and the bad.  There are moments that should be really cheesy and silly, but I felt they worked.  We get a trip to Heaven (or at least what Peter thinks Heaven would be) where Peter visits all those who have died in his past and there are quite a few people there.  Later on we get another cliched moment where Peter forces Octavius to revisit all of Spider-Man’s memories: Uncle Ben dying, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, everything.  This causes Octavius’ heart to grow three sizes and make a promise to the dying Peter Parker that he will become a hero.

With that being said, I felt it was a good send off to Peter Parker.  Of course, we all know that Peter Parker will not be gone forever, these are comics after all.  People die and come back all the time.  But, it was still a nice way to explore the character.  We see all the different sides of the character.

If it wasn’t for the silliness of the body swap and Peter Parker ultimately dying and being replaced, I would say that this is a great issue for those who are curious to know more about the character and to really show what makes Spider-Man such a beloved and special character.

Personally, I don’t know how I feel about it.  Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 also came out this week as a epilogue to Amazing #700.  It doesn’t really do much to advance the character.  It reminded me of those Punisher Armory comics, no real plot just going over the gadgets and gizmos with some interior dialogue about how Spider-Ock (?) is going to be different and “Superior” over Peter Parker.

I’ve only been regularly reading one Spider-Man book, Avenging Spider-Man, and right now I’m not sure if I’m going to keep reading it or not.  I want to give it a chance, I don’t want to be one of those people who just scream out “NO!! You raped my childhood and ruined everything! How dare you!”  If the book is good I will keep reading, if I don’t feel the connection to the book anymore then I will drop it, but I’m not going to drop it simply because of the fact that it is no longer Peter Parker under the mask (well, technically the face under the mask hasn’t changed, but you know what I mean.)

There is one aspect of this that can not be ignored.  Marvel is trying to encourage new readers, because comic readership is down and it’s getting harder and harder to pull new readers in.  Spider-Man is having so many high points in other media, 4 very successful movies in the last 10 years, several successful cartoon shows, and simply being one of those major heroes in the pop culture zeitgeist that everyone knows.  However, any new readers who go into a store or pull up comixology on their device are going to see a brand new series starting.  What better time to jump in than when a new series is starting?  Except this story does not star Peter Parker the lovable kid from the suburbs of New York, it’s now a body swapped Doctor Octopus with the face of Peter Parker.  It almost feels like Marvel’s publishing arm is not communicating with Marvel studios.

In the end, what do we have?  Yes, Peter Parker is dead, but seriously how long has any major hero been dead in the comics?  Superman? Captain America?  There is always some magic way to bring the character back.

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