SPOILER ALERT! As outright said in the headline, we'll be discussing MAJOR SPOILERS for Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the future of Spider-Man here! PLEASE do yourself a favor and read ASM #700 before reading this article!
In Marvel Comics' first ever 700th issue of a comic today, the end of Amazing Spider-Man sees major changes to the characters of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and Otto Octavius.
Call him Peter Octavius or Otto Parker, as a hybrid of sorts will make it out of Amazing Spider-Man #700 to become the new Superior Spider-Man [preview pages seen in this article] in the Marvel NOW! relaunch of the title in January, 2013.
The final battle between these age-old enemies is fought rather non-traditionally. After a vast mind-swapping scheme by Otto, better known as Doctor Octopus or simply Doc Ock, the big fight sees Peter Parker in Otto's body and vice-versa. However, both minds have left a lasting impression, and that's where the last punch is truly thrown by Peter as he lies dying in Otto's frail body.
Peter Parker's life flashes not just before his own eyes, but as Otto has full access to Peter's memories and is mind-linked once again, Pete forces him to see all his major, life-changing and philosophy-forming moments. In a crash course on Spider-Man history, Octavius doesn't just see moments like Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy's deaths, he experiences and feels them. He sees exactly what it was like to overcome adversity repeatedly and finally learns: "With great power must also come great responsibility."
Thus, Otto promises to not only live as Peter lived, but actually become a better, and yes, "Superior" Spider-Man.
"This is Moriarty in the head of Sherlock. This is Prince John inside of
Robin Hood. This is the greatest villain inside the body of the
greatest hero and trying to do good," writer Dan Slott told USA Today of the new status quo. He promises you won't simply see a Peter Parker that has Otto overtones though - this is Otto Octavius in Peter's body trying to figure out how to be a better hero than he ever was, and it won't be easy. "That road of salvation and stepping up and doing the right thing, it's
more interesting to see it from a character who has to fight his basic
nature to do that."
Otto will face former allies like the Sinister Six, while also trying to live Peter's life outside the costume better than his nemesis. A renewed relationship with Mary Jane Watson as well as a stricter focus of intellect at Horizon Labs are just two of the changes seen in Otto/Peter as the new Spider-Man, and readers don't have to wait until January 9, 2013 when the first issue of Superior hits for that dynamic, as Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, also in stores today, shows Otto as Spidey in some of these situations.
Reader reaction, as shown by Dan Slott himself on his twitter feed, will be mixed, with readers ranging from everlasting thanks to immediate drop of all things Marvel, but the writer doesn't just acknowledge that fact and challenge, he embraces it.
"He had to be a hero in his own eyes, and on some level Otto Octavius
is facing that struggle not with Spider-Man's world but with the
readership," Slott says to USA Today.
"How do you get more Peter Parker than
that? Now the readers think he's a menace. That's exciting. On a meta
level, that is Spider-Man."
Of course, seasoned comic book readers will note that while Peter Parker sure seemed to die in the body of Otto Octavius, the mind-swap nature of the entire storyline, as well as Peter's lingering memories in his own body, certainly gives Marvel an "out" to return to the original status quo at some point in the story. It wouldn't even entirely be the first time such a thing happened at Marvel Comics, let alone in the comic book world. When the X-Men character Rogue had absorbed Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel's powers, memories, and personality, Danvers came with it, fighting Rogue for control of her own body before eventually being transfered back into her own.
Whether a scenario like that is in the future for the Superior Spider-Man, for the time being, Peter Parker is dead and Otto Octavius is now the web-slinger.
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