UPDATE: Out on a LIMB with an AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 Theory

This article contains speculation for future issues of Amazing Spider-Man, based on details revealed in advance solicitations that could be considered spoilers..

Update, 9/21: Though the actual Marvel solicitation for Amazing Spider-Man #700 only read "LAST ISSUE," here's a description of the issue from Diamond, which, if accurate, provides a more detailed glimpse of the plot:

"Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos bring us the end of The Amazing Spider-Man and the “Big Time”, as we witness the final hours of Doctor Octopus’ life and his one, last, great act of revenge."

Though nothing here is shocking — as noted below, Doctor Octopus has been dying for years in the comics now — it does cement (again, if correct) that the story is about his final act of vengeance, implying that whatever that is leads to the major change to Spider-Man, one worthy of ending his series and most likely prompting a new relaunch soon after, the nature of which is yet to be revealed.

Original story: Are Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus about to become closer than ever? We mean really, really close?

 

Let's recap a bit: Something big is happening to Spider-Man in December's Amazing Spider-Man #700. We've known that for a while now, and series writer Dan Slott predicts that it will be so controversial, he'll have to effectively go into hiding at the end of it.

This week, Marvel's December 2012 solicitations revealed that #700 will be the "last issue" of the series. Now, obviously Marvel isn't going to be without a flagship Spidey book for long, and multiple existing Marvel books are about to end, with a Marvel NOW! relaunch of either the same title or an equivalent series the following month.

Marvel has already promoted a "top-secret" series launch in January using the one-word teaser "Superior," which many (including us) have suggested might have ties to Spider-Man's future. Now that it's public that Amazing Spider-Man is ending in December, that theory has seemingly gained a considerable amount of credibility.

Recall that Marvel announced that the “Superior” tease would be lead into the “biggest new launch of 2013," and will be written by the writer of the "the most shocking comic book of 2012." Amazing Spider-Man #700 is scheduled for release on Dec. 26, placing whatever comes next in 2013.

 

So: What would be a significant, shocking, controversial change to Spider-Man that could serve as a hook for a new ongoing series promoted with the word "superior" look like?

How about this completely unsubstantiated but perhaps not unsubstantial theory: Doctor Octopus's arms get grafted onto Spider-Man. Permanently. (Well, as permanent as anything is in superhero comic books.)

Doc Ock has been dying since Amazing Spider-Man #600, a comic also written by Slott. The solicitation text for #699 directly mentions that 2009 issue, and that Doctor Octopus a) knows Peter Parker's secret and b) is looking for vengeance. Transferring his robotic arms to his greatest enemy as a parting gift before his long-time-coming death would significantly alter life for both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, as Peter would have no shot at maintaining a normal civilian life, and Spidey would be transformed into a reflection of one of his oldest foes.

And even if Otto Octavius "dies," why should Marvel bury one of the most iconic villainous weapons in comic book history with him?

 

Visually, Paolo Rivera's cover to Amazing Spider-Man #699 could be viewed as a possible hint towards this direction, showing Doc Ock's arms (sans Doc Ock) wrapped around Spider-Man. Then there's the cover to Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 (also by Rivera) — the entire composition of the cover is the history between the two characters, reflected (literally) in the metallic limbs, and again, not attached (as far as we can see) to Doc Ock himself. Now look at the lower portion of the cover, showing the arms holding a scrap of Spidey's costume.

Could be literal imagery, could be more subtle foreshadowing by Marvel.

 

 

In fact, it's more the contents of Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 — an "epilogue" to Amazing Spider-Man #700 — rather than what we know about Amazing #699-700 that drives this whole theory: "Coinciding with the end of Amazing Spider-Man, a look back at the greatest conflict in comics history: Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus!" That sounds very much like a commemorative-type issue — a celebration of the history of something — strongly suggesting that the Spidey/Doc Ock dynamic significantly changes in December.

 

Keep in mind that Morbius the Living Vampire, who is getting his own ongoing series come January, is billed as playing a part in both #699 and #699.1. The character was initially introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #101, the original "Spidey gets extra arms story," a type of symmetry that a continuity buff like Slott would likely appreciate. (Lizard, the Marvel character most associated with arm loss/growth, is also listed as appearing in issue #699).

As far as "superior" goes, this is admittedly less of an elegant fit, but it could mean a couple of things. Doc Ock's motivations has always been driven by his belief that he has a superior intellect, and there's a chance that though having a megalomaniac's robotic arms certainly seems like a curse, Spider-Man might be able to translate it into a positive, and use them to become a better superhero. His power level would certainly be superior than it is now.

 

Also, the font colors of each of the one-word Marvel NOW! teasers have usually been relevant — green for Indestructibe Hulk, purple for the Psylocke-led Uncanny X-Force — so it's worth noting the appearance of the word "Superior" could be viewed as implying a metallic look and feel.

It's all speculation at this point, but clues may be coming in the next few weeks — whatever "Superior" is teasing is slated to be discussed at a retailer breakfast on Oct. 11, the first day of New York Comic Con. Until then, we'll leave you with Slott's own words on issue #700, from our interview with him this past July:

"#700 is big. What I can clearly say is that in the 20-odd years I've been working in this industry, I have never done something as big to a character as what we're doing to Spider-Man in #700.
 
"I'm very serious — after #700 comes out, I'm not doing interviews for a bit. I'm not sticking my head up out of the hole. People are going to be like, 'What have you done?' and the message on my machine will just say, 'Keep reading.'"

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