Guest Post by Adam Teterus
“I don’t want to live in a world in which Otto Octavius is Spider-Man.”
Well, damn – it looks like it’s time to find out whether or not I was being dramatic. As I write this, Peter Parker, of Earth-616, is dead. I think. Peter Parker has vanished (sort of) from the Marvel Universe. If you keep up with Marvel and you’ve read the latest and “last” Amazing Spider-Man, issue 700, you now know that Otto Octavius, Doctor Octopus, has somehow foiled Spider-Man by becoming Spider-Man.
What we knew was this:
- Doc Ock swapped bodies/brains with Peter Parker, somehow.
- ASM #700 would close-out ASM as a 50 year series
- Come the finale, Peter Parker would no longer be Spider-Man, entering the herald of a Superior Spider-Man
With telling honesty and stunning naivete I didn’t see this coming. Dan Slott had set the stage for Ock to be Spider-Man over the past three issues, which obviously meant he couldn’t actually wind up staying Spider-Man. It’s too blatant. It doesn’t fit the formula. Otto’s “Dying Wish” (which, as it turns out, was to not die) had been built up as the dramatic pivot for too many issues for it to become an actualized conclusion.
Ock as Spider-Man was such a no-brainer (LOL brain swap), it couldn’t possibly be the ultimate twist. But, it was, and in some blazing banner of brilliance or boldness or stupidity – I haven’t decided which – the obvious outcome that simply could not occur, did.
It’s a feeling familiar to anyone who has ever read a novel, watched a movie, thumbed through a comic: the hero perseveres even when it seems impossible. Par for the course, we know that victory is around the corner because that’s how stories go, and the “impossible” obstacles are understood to be the stuff of friction and climax to make things interesting as we stampede from A to B, but we all know, deep down, how these traumatic events will resolve.
Imagine, then, the hero doesn’t come out on top, and the nefarious plan of the evil mastermind somehow comes to fruition, toppling our valiant protagonist.
The real twist is that there wasn’t a real twist. Instead, in his final moments and trapped within the decrepit body of one of his worst enemies, Peter is able to force Otto to bear the weight of fused memories: recollections of all of Spider-Mans’ tragedies and triumphs – a lot of death, a heap of suffering, and a bunch of sticky black goo from space a la the movie Prometheus – which astound, confuse, and align Otto Octavius. Gone is his sinister plan to run amock as Peter Parker, replaced with the immediate and stern understanding of power and responsibility. This, more or less, happens over the course of two panels.
I’m left a little more than stupefied, really. An affinity for comics has granted a certain forgiveness for speedy story-telling, accepting the deus-ex machina as it’s delivered in the eleventh hour: the shark repellant spray, the Universal language translators, the sudden emergence of a previously un-announced super suit specifically designed between issues for these precise circumstances, etc. That in mind, I can’t decide if the Peter Parker memory-meld with Doc Ock’s brain is totally logical and acceptable or a lazy and rushed means to change some shit up.
But let’s not get it twisted: I liked this issue. I think. I’m not mad at Dan Slott or Stephen Wacker, or at least I don’t believe I am, but they literally just made one of the least likeable albeit most-tenured villain take on the red and blue and webby tights. Look at Otto Octavius’ stupid face. Ugh. Finally, in his insatiable lust for new Spidey suits, Slott gifts Spider-Man with suspiciously Court of Owls talons and suspiciously Court of Owls eyes. (More like Doctor Occular-topus! HA!). I guess it makes sense for Pete/Ock to get new clothes for Christmas, but my holiday pajamas don’t have damn hawk claws in the built-in feet.
So now what?
- How does MJ react to a non-quippy, brazen Pete? May?
- How long before Ock learns to respect cheesy witicisms? “Your friendly neighborhood cephalo-podiatrist?”
- Will Jonah take to the new no-nonsense Parker?
- Surely one of the Avengers will pick up on the scent of a cunning, curmudgeon Webhead – right?
- Will Peter suddenly favor the bowl cut?
- Will Ock decide to unmask himself out of hubris and sentimental sterility?
- Did Madame Web see this coming? Is this the moment that’s been driving her bonkers up to this issue?
- How will anyone in the Spider family handle the changes?
- Damn, I guess Sable really did die. Or, perhaps that crowded Ingram Street was a figment of Peter’s imagination rather than Heaven? That would explain Aleksei being up there. Man, I don’t know.
- Will Otto be ogling Aunt May through Parker’s eyes? Oh, dude, gross.
- How easy or difficult will this be to retcon? Technically, Pete’s memories and substance of life still exists in Ock’s brain which is actually Pete’s brain which is definitely in Pete’s body. Shouldn’t be too difficult to conjur-up a mind vs. mind scenario, a la Rogue/Ms. Marvel.
There is much to consider, much to protest, much to champion. Me? I receive all of these feelings as a great weight, and as Nada Surf posits, the weight is a gift. It just so happens that I never asked for this gift. Regardless, good on you, Marvel, for executing (no pun intended) something seriously different.
Now change it back, Slott. #jk