SPOILER ALERT: This is your last big Spoiler alert folks, do not read further if you don't want to know the massive change coming in Spider-Man's life in today's issue, Amazing Spider-Man #698. In fact, we recommend reading the issue itself for full context and seeing the story play out the way the authors intended.
Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has been promising a massive change in the life of Peter Parker, Spider-Man for several months now. Back in July, in fact, he focused on the final issue, #700, and its resonating changes for the character.
Nrama: Though it's still months away, you've already
started to really raise the bar in terms of expectations with something
big happening in that issue.
Slott: It cannot be raised enough! #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."
Nrama: So is it fair to connect the dots and presume that Alpha is related to whatever happens in #700?
I will say this — once "Ends of the Earth" ended, everything has been
building to #700 in some way. Every story arc has pieces of the puzzle
to what's coming up in #700. I think when you get there you'll see —
especially in #699 — that you've been given a lot more of these building
blocks over the years than you've realized. Years!
Well, it turns out that Amazing Spider-Man #698 actually starts the ball rolling, as Doctor Octopus, Otto Octavius, swaps minds with Peter Parker, taking over Spider-Man's body, and promising to take over his entire life.
This isn't your average body-swap, as Otto tells Peter he knows everything, all of his memories, everyone and everything that Peter has ever known, and Peter, trapped in Otto's dying body, is doomed. The entire issue takes place leading up to the big reveal, with Otto already in Peter's body and just living out a full day in the life of Spider-Man. He goes to work at Horizon and gives proper respect to Peter's inventions over the years, he visits Aunt May "that dear sweet woman" in the hospital, and he even renews Peter's romantic relationship with Mary Jane Watson, something we knew was happening in Superior Spider-Man in 2013.
The clues have been there for amateur gumshoes. We long knew that the big change would have Otto involved. In fact, the solicitation text for #698 even gave a blatant hint in retrospect, saying "Fifty years goes by much...too...fast."
The spoilers hit the internet before the issue's release on Wednesday the 21st of November, as a retailer apparently scanned the big reveal page, seen to your left, which shows Otto revealing his big move to Peter before Peter apparently dying in his old villain's body.
But is that the whole story? Well, there are still two more issues of Amazing Spider-Man, and they should shed more light on Otto's plan. We know that Peter Parker is not going to be under the mask in the Marvel NOW! Sensational Spider-Man when it launches in January, 2013, but that doesn't mean that it will still be Otto, either. Slott told one reader who was already expressing his outrage on twitter, "You've only read Part 1 of a 3 part story. You don't know what happens next."
So what could happen? Well, characters that die on one page, or at the end of one issue, often get revived at the start of the next, so Peter-Otto could very well breathe again in #699. With the 700th and final issue of the series still looming, many other villains and allies alike are sure to make appearances and change the equation, as well. And with 700 issues and 50 years of stories behind him, loyal readers know that counting Peter Parker out because of something silly like dying in the body of an old man who happens to be one of his greatest villains. If Doctor Strange, or Morbius, or Tony Stark can't help, after all, there's always Mephisto.
If this is the status quo for Superior Spider-Man, you still shouldn't count Peter out. As Otto self-identifies as Peter Parker throughout this issue, it may give us hope for Pete's future. Perhaps it will be more of a Rogue-Carol Danvers situation, where the two wrestled for control of one mind and body, rather than a "Freaky Friday" situation where they simply swap and that's that.
For now, though, Doctor Octopus is alive and well inside Peter Parker's mind and body, and Peter Parker has breathed his final breath inside Otto Octavius's long-dying shell. Amazing Spider-Man #699 and #700 both ship in December 2012, so you don't have long to find out how Otto's plan plays out and what Peter Parker's future - if any - will wind up being.
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