SPOILER ALERT! There are Spoilers for this issue and Superior Spider-Man's identity in this review! Do not read without reading the issue unless you want SPOILERS!Amazing Spider-Man #700
Written by Dan Slott, JM DeMatteis, and Jen Van Meter
Art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sal Buscema, Antonio Fabela, and Stephanie Buscema
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Amazing Spider-Man #700 may be the masterpiece we never wanted. In one fell swoop, Dan Slott has done everything in his power to remind us all why Peter Parker is the greatest super-hero in the Marvel universe, and ensured that we'll seemingly never see him - at least not the real him - again. It's as bittersweet as a comic can be, at once a fitting swansong, the seeming end of a story we've all loved, and the start of something a little scary, a little exciting, and definitely different.
Like all great dramas, there's a lot of Amazing Spider-Man #700 that's difficult to read. Seeing Peter Parker and Doc Ock alike coming dangerously close to crossing lines that Spider-Man should never cross is hair-raising to say the least, and when it's the people that Peter loves in the crosshairs, the stakes are as high as they've ever been for the wall-crawler. There's a kind of poetry in the way Slott renders the dialogue of our two main characters, and whether by their own design, or by the over-powering height of circumstance, each one inches ever closer to sounding, and eventually behaving, like the body they inhabit. By the issue's crushing climax, when Peter Parker's life flashes before his eyes - and, thanks to their mind link, Dr. Octopus's as well - we get a glimpse of the truly "superior" Spider-Man; the one that will always lay down his life for the people he loves, the one who always swings headfirst into whatever dangers lie ahead, and the one we've known and loved for 50 years.And yes, Peter Parker is dead. We all saw that coming. When spoilers of this issue leaked, they all but confirmed his death. But, just as Dan Slott beseeched fans not to judge the scene without context, it's important not to judge the concept, either. The fact is, while the Peter Parker we all knew and loved died in the decrepit body of Dr. Octopus, his face, his legacy, and yes, even his morality live on. There may be a slightly more cunning, more aggressive mind attached, but at his core, Spider-Man will always be about power and responsibility, whether he likes it or not.
The thing that really carries this issue off, which makes this entire scenario plausible for this comic, let alone acceptable, is the level of care with which Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos have rendered its contents. There's never a moment that's played the wrong way, and there are many that cut right to the gut-wrenching core of Peter's predicament. Humberto Ramos, in particular, stands out. He's never been one for subtlety, but there are some truly beautiful moments in this issue, such as the sequence in which Peter, close to death in Doc Ock's body, takes a sojourn through his old neighborhood, meeting each person who has died under his watch. As Peter moves through the neighborhood, the years of his life pass as well, and Ramos successfully captures his visual evolution along with the strong emotions at play. It's in this scene that Uncle Ben, even as a figment of Peter's mind, absolves Peter for the mistakes he's made, promising him that, once he's defeated Doc Ock, he can finally rest. It's a touching moment, and one that drives the issue's final scenes.Those final scenes are where Amazing Spider-Man #700 definitely hits the mark, when Peter and Ock have their final confrontation. It's in those final moments that Doc Ock finally learns the full extent of the responsibility he has accepted, the truth about being Spider-Man, and accepts not just Peter's identity, but his legacy as well. There's something to be said about a man who, even in dying, saves the day. In his final act, Peter Parker ensures that the world will not just have a Spider-Man, but one capable of living up to the standard the world expects of it's friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. Dan Slott has walked a very fine tightrope for these last few issues, and the way this story is perceived in the long run will depend greatly on what happens in Superior Spider-Man, but on its own legs, Amazing Spider-Man #700 stands as Slott's masterpiece. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!