This weeks must-have digital comic is an obvious one, partly because its the only major title released this post-Christmas week, but mainly because it is the final issue of one of Marvel‘s flagship titles – The Amazing Spider-Man. After events in recent issues (and this is your SPOILER warning, stop if you haven’t read them yet!) life in the Spidey-verse is about to change forever. And we are assured this is a forever change as it brings to an end the most iconic title in the Marvel cannon and also the end of Peter Parker as Spider-Man.As you’ll know if you’ve made it this far, Doc Ock has swapped minds with Peter and taken over the web shooters of Spider-Man. So with only hours left to live Peter (in Doc Ock’s withering body) has set out to prevent him, aided by a motley bunch of super villains who’ve helped him bust out of prison. It’s all pretty edgy stuff with a fantastic twist on this age-old hero/villain dynamic which came out of a genuinely shocking moment when it was revealed back in ASM 698 that Ock was Parker and vice versa. Part of what made it so shocking was that it actually seemed completely plausible and as such writer Dan Slott appears to have written that rarest of superhero plots – a super villain winning – and has done it in a completely believable manner. Re-reading the previous year of ASMs you begin to see the hints and how the story has unfolded which is the sign of a really great writer, and with this story Slott has definitely become one of the very best.
After taking on the somewhat poisoned chalice of Amazing Spider-Man in the wake of the Brand New Day story, Slott was the standout among the multitude of creative teams that began to shape the post-MJ Spidey-verse. He did it by recapturing the excitement and fun of what we loved about Spidey in the first place and with this new fun packed Spidey on the scene back came the readers. Slott was given full control of the title in 2011 and with it the chance to really shape the series for the new millennium. Equally adept at handling epic crossovers as he was small and simple personal stories, Slott alongside regular artist Humberto Ramos would give us the definitive 21st century depiction of Spidey which included epic story lines such as The Ends of the Earth and of course Dying Wish, which ends with issue 700, and had it’s seeds deftly sowed months before.
However before this final run, perhaps his finest hour was the sensational Spider Island, which again flipped Peter’s world on it’s head by giving the entire population of New York spider powers, before mutating into hideous spider-mutants. The idea of Peter no longer having to hide his powers in broad daylight, but still having to do his job as Spider-Man made for an awesome tale and with Slott utilising many of his post-BND additions to Parker’s world (such as his new super Spidey suits, Mayor JJJ and his new job at a Horizon labs) it would become a story which was epic in it’s scale but completely contained within the pages of Amazing Spider-Man (not to mention beginning the build towards this epic final issue.)
Although we are told that this is the end of the Amazing Spider-Man (it is set to be replaced with the Superior Spider-Man series in 2013) as with any great superhero story they do have an escape plan in place. Despite Otto inhabiting Spidey’s physical body, Peters memories are still there, transferred to Otto in a stunning sequence that sees artist Humberto Ramos realise classic Spidey moments with the infamous bowler haircut and triangular glasses replacing Peter’s usual features. So, if it all goes wrong then there is always the chance to reboot however with the Marvel brain trust seeming to want a have a darker, edgier Spider-Man in 2013 then we will have to wait and see how things shake down in the new year.
Removing such an iconic character and title is a brave decision, no doubt – probably the bravest since Brand New Day – but in this time of company wide reboots and the positive long term aftermath of Brand New Day could Marvel actually make this a sucess?! After all, they have already experimented in the Ultimate titles with a different man behind the mask and Miles Morales has ably stepped into the Ultimate Spidey suit. But will this new super villain inflected Spidey work as a replacement for one of the most established titles in the world of comics? As long as Dan Slott is in charge we have faith, as the journey so far has proved he is more than up to the task, however only time will tell.
The double-sized Amazing Spider-Man #700 is available via ComiXology and the Marvel Comics app for £4.99