Amazing Spider-Man #698 Review

The big secret is in. I’m not impressed.

This review will not spoil the punchline, as I think the internet has already seen ample discussion of it, so try to avoid doing so in the comments as well. Instead I’m going to focus on the delivery and the issue itself.

The Amazing Spider-Man #698

Words by Dan Slott

Art by Richard Elson

Colors by Antonio Fabela

Letters by Chris Eliopoulos

We’ve known for a long time that this was supposed to be the start of something big. And in a sense, it certainly is. But I’m not at all convinced this isn’t heading for the kind of overhyped, overblown and overpriced mess that Slott’s last major Spider “events” have turned into. This issue itself has done nothing to inspire confidence. Short of some nice art and an amusing scene, I found it was mostly lacking any kind of content that would have justified my picking it up. Instead, as has happened many times before with Slott’s biggest stories, most of what’s contained here is filler that’s designed not to tell a story but simply to provide setup to one big revelation that only lasts a few pages. An hour of foreplay for thirty seconds of action.

As the issue begins, Peter Parker is in a good mood. Slott has a fondness for setting up issues where something is going to go wrong in ways that remind me of Spider-Man 3 Pete walking along to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” You can imagine that big, “slap my mouth please” Toby Maguire smile on his face as he intros with “Today is going to be the best day ever!”

From there, things meander from scene to scene without any clear indication of where it’s all going except that there is something slightly off about Peter. He stops a super villain robbery but doesn’t realize it’s just an ordinary guy bluffing powers, in what I’ll readily confess is a highly amusing encounter and probably the best part of the issue (yes, better than the big reveal.) “Stay where you are! Or I, Destructor, will fry you where you stand!” the villain announces, to which Spidey replies, “My God. Who talks like that?” It’s at least good to know Slott can poke fun at his habit of using 60s super villain-speak.

Pete seems to momentarily forget later that his latest scar came from his recent Hobgoblin battle. He ponders why he hasn’t gotten back with MJ and resolves to do so. He’s fixated on it in a way that’s totally incongruous with his totally platonic attitude towards her over the past few years, to the point that he’s even trying to bring it up while the two of them are watching Aunt May take her first steps with a cane after her recent injury. Needless to say, Slott wants us to see that something’s different about Peter, and he’s building up to letting us in on what it is. The problem is that in the meantime it’s just page after page of Peter internally talking to himself about how great he is. It gets dull pretty fast, and I found myself annoyed that I was reading what is essentially an entirely plotless issue just to get to the punchline.

Well, no more. I refuse to lose a single moment to stagnation.

The issue finally finds its legs when Peter gets an emergency call from the Avengers and goes to see what’s up. On board the Raft he comes face to face with the truth about what is happening to him, and it’s a tough scene to read. This part of the book is pretty well done, as it lets the impact slowly set in. You can almost feel what Peter must be feeling when he starts to realize what’s happened, and I’m sure that Slott will be getting the huge reaction out of readers that he’s obviously been looking for.

But it’s one thing to write a clever twist, and it’s something else entirely to write a great story. Slott’s got the twist, but so far he’s doing what it’s always seemed to me he does with his big ideas. He came up with something he wanted to do, and then he bent and twisted the world of Spider-Man into the shape of a story to fit around it, rather than letting a story grow from it organically. Amazing #698, despite being controversial, is no One More Day — yet it does have one other thing in common with that story. It will be remembered not for the story it told, but for the action it took. In my mind that’s not a good thing for any book.

But there is potential here. One thing that the issue has done successfully is set up a great deal of new, smaller questions. Despite that I’m not excited, I can’t deny I’m curious, and I’m crossing my fingers that Slott is going to use this setup to tell a story worthy of the greatest superhero on earth. He’s been dragged through the mud an awful lot in recent years, but I’m still waiting for the day when all that changes. Cautiously hopeful.

Pros: I liked the humorous Destructor scene, and even though I’m not buying into the hype this issue did successfully invest me in knowing what comes next by dangling many tantalizing questions in the reader’s face. I found Elson’s artwork pretty enjoyable, too.

Cons: For the most part, this just meanders through extremely well-covered territory in Peter’s life, with periodic hints that something is off about him all that exists to give the reader any motive to keep going. The big secret at the end is competently executed but it’s disappointing that an entire issue of mostly filler had to come out just for the sake of these few pages. 

Grade: C

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(30) Comments

  1. Mike 13

    @28 - I think you need to reread it knowing that peter's dialogue is actually Doc Ock's... makes for a MUCH better read... at least it did for me.:)

  2. Wall_Crawler

    I wasn't to impressed with the read and would agree with the grade. It was a fast page flipper and didn't really have much punch other than the first spidey/bad guy mix up. I'm sticking it out until 700 (as much as I don't want to) to see if he can really pull this story out and make a fan like me conform and say "wow, slot actually made me love this book again" Not holding my breath though.

  3. Stuart Green

    @#26: (shakes Jack's hand) Hello, I'm Absolute Imbecile. Nice to meet you. Though I didn't like #698, I'm glad you did. :)

  4. DXD

    I really loved this issue. Great set up that has me really intrigued. Beautiful art too! This storyline has a lot of potential...imagine Ock/Spidey versus Norman Osborn, or the Sinister 6.

  5. irishlad

    As has been said many times here, once you read it with the knowledge of whose viewpoint the issue's about then... well it makes a huge difference in how you judge it. Great issue. Well done Dan Slott.

  6. Stuart Green

    Well, I'm still not fond of anything Marvel's done with Spider-Man lately and this twist with Doc Ock is pretty lame in my opinion. Of course, I haven't liked what Marvel's done with Doc Ock since he started his eight-tentacled, slowly dying storyarc. The lettered preview of #700 doesn't have me that intrigued either. I just wish Marvel would give it up already. It seems like with this storyline, if Uncle Ben's words to Peter in said #700 preview are any indication, that we'll see a Ultimate Spider-Man in the "regular" Marvel Universe with Peter dead and someone else as Spider-Man. They can't have Peter married to Mary Jane, but they can have him trade bodies with Doc Ock and have someone new be the Superior Spider-Man? Unbelievable.P.S. Erik, it was Spider-Man 2, not 3, where they do the "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" sequence. I'm surprised nobody caught that.

  7. Mike 13

    @Boomstick - I said I was Alpha's age? I doubt it... though I have a son who is Alpha's age... well, he's 14... but close enough. Please find where I said this because it certainly wan't me.And I have been reading comics monthly since 1975... though thanks for the accusation... I wish I were an employee at Marvel... is it possible that I actually liked the book?Sheesh...

  8. Spec Spider Fan

    Two more cents...with new Peter in new body he can get together with Mary Jane as Spider Man in a fashion undoing the OMD/OMIT while completely saving face:) Again, just a theory.

  9. Lord Alford

    I do agree with Erik that this is a set up issue that relies on the twist to make it worthwhile. I do not agree that nothing happens. Much like the great short stories like "The Lottery" and "Good Country People," the pace of the story is slow. It's the last page that makes them worth reading. The twist in this issue is so big, that he really couldn't have sacrificed its impact by trying to telling a more meaningful story in the buildup of it. Instead, he lays out everything that Spider fans wanted in a slow, methodical way. We have clever banter with a super-villain (but since it really was not, we're left wondering how he will react with a real villain), we have him making his move in Horizon (I know it was originally done with Tri-Corp, but I always thought that that was a good idea that was never fully realized - Slott is really trying to make use of the story, so I'll excuse the repeat), we have an Avengers meeting with the new improved Spidey (I'm not a Spidey on a team fan, but seeing how the Avengers will react to the new Spidey might be interesting), and we get a move on MJ, (which, after the twist, makes you go, "ewww!").For MJ fans, I don't think this is a bad thing. Sure, it seems to delay them getting back together for real, but once this is over, Peter and MJ will really need to address this and that has opportunity to develop it. Even if it doesn't, we're at least not getting Carlie anymore.I think Slott's writing on ASM has been certainly sporadic, but I feel that he nailed it with this one. It set me up and now I want to get the next issue, something I have not really felt much of lately. My only concern is that it will last too long, but I'm going to put my hopes in that it will continue to deliver on the set up he gave this issue. I really expect 700 to be the big set up issue, so I'm left wondering what Slott has in store for the next two issues. Plus, it seems that we already have the Superior Spider-Man, so maybe he has another twist? Is there a way to bring the 2099 and Ock theories together for this?

  10. Jack

    @ Boomstick: Just because you state this isn't a good story, doesn't mean this isn't a good story. This IS a great story.

  11. Spec Spider Fan

    Here's my 2 cents...Peter defeats Ock....but loses his body to him so that he will become the new "Superior" Spiderman as somebody completely new.....He will then spend his new life fighting crime in edgier fashion and attempting to get his body/life back while still continuing his Spidey identity...just a thought.

  12. Jack

    @ Erik Lexie: It took you an hour and thirty seconds to read the comic? That may be part of the problem. Just saying.

  13. Boomstick

    @ Mike13:You once said you've been collecting comics since the late '70's, but more recrntly said you're also Apha's age.Tell, me , which is true?Anyone from Marvel is encouraged to chat openly, but there's no need for the mask.Back on topic, this story cold have been a clever and entertaining little two or three parter, with the nystery unravelled a few issues in, but it's already been done in Defenders and elsewhere.All in all, it's sort of a non-event, since we've come to expect this sort of thing from ASM, which is sad.ASM doesn't need more "Shock and awe" events. The readers certainly don't need yet anotehr "reality slap" or more trolling. And no, we don't want Alpha in the title role Z (as that infamous MarvelNow with the Alpha symbol in Spidey's eyes promos have teased). What we need are consistently good stories.No more "Shock and awe" events. No more "reality slaps", no more "Any publicity is good publicity, please, Marvel.Write consistently good stories, win back readers. The math is simple.

  14. Mike 13

    I liked the issue... a LOT!!!And to all the people that thought the first 20 pages were nothing but fluff, go back and reread it knowing that it's Doc Ock speaking... it probably won't change your opinion, but it certainly was a good issue in my eyes...:)

  15. Xonathan

    The issue couldn't have lived up to the hype generated by Slott. Unless it undid OMD and brough back ban May like it was mentioned the issue didn't deserve the hype. At most it wouldve been a B if it was a regular issue, not a "status changing" one

  16. Jack

    @ 11, and others: The story is not completed. No need to talk about raping MJ or any other gross predictions. If you take a look at the preview for 700, you'll notice that there's more to this than meets the eye. Octavius will not remain as Spider-Man. It seems Peter will return, or at least his mind will, into another body - share it? It makes sense now - the claws and gadgets of Superior! He needs the enhancements because in the new body he does not have his old spider powers. The question is - who's body? Alpha? Norman (yuk)? We'll see. One thing is certain, Slott is kicking it!

  17. Graduation

    I absoltely hate the fact they're giving us the impression Doc Ock is more interested in MJ than Peter has been over the last two years, it makes Peter look like he gave up on his love for his soul mate after she friendzoned him in OMIT, rather than come to the conclusion he should logicly be with her. So MJ gets to be raped by Ock (who actually has feelings for Aunt May) while simotaniously looking like an idiot when she's proven capable of deducing people habe impersonated Spidey and Peter in the past. Hopefully Slott hasnt forgotten that last bit. Whoever gave this an "A" needs to reexamine why they are a fan of this book, as I feel some are losing their way and are resigned to the fact the book will never get any better, so they're saying anything is good .

  18. Fred

    My God, every time i think things could not get worse for this book, Marvel PROVES ME WRONG. This reads worse than fan fiction and the sad part is that regardless of the hype, sales will still go back down after it.

  19. Boomstick

    Props to those who figured this out in advance. I remember shrugging off all the speculation that it was Doc Ock taking over Peter's body. I thought at the time, "No way they'd do something *that* silly. It's a classically silly fanfiction trope-and it's already been done as is. Surely Marvel wouldn't stoop to that."Well, they did. From a writing point of view, this will have very few if any repeat readings. As I feared, Marvel couldn't resist one more massive troll of the readers, basically saying the only way they'll allow Peter and MJ to be a couple is if Peter is not really Peter, but is providing body-space for a super villain.Another anti climactic "event", another troll to the readers. This whole mess-untilthe inevitable retcon-will be just another big non event. The sad part is that, like an abused spouse, I was really hoping that *this* time things would be different.

  20. Stryker

    Lame issue, nothing happened. Kinda ironic that Slott always chides set-up books, when this book he has building up turned out to be a one page comic. Seriously, I'd like to know what people saw in the other twenty or so pages that wasn't summed up by the plot twist. Someone say characterization, but it was all just fluff.

  21. notsomuch

    lol i was just reading Justice Leage preview #13... Superman gets taken over by Tigress scratching him.... but then by applying sonic waves he is able to suppress her command...and here we pretty much have that but with a whole bowl of bull sheet to eat with it.truly amazing.

  22. Enigma_2099

    @BDDid you notice something?Donovan's the one who gave it the highest grade, and he's the one they jumped all over. That's kind of telling, isn't it?

  23. CrazyChris

    Long after everything goes back to normal I'll still remember this as a cleverly-written issue. Every single line has a double meaning that you can get after you know the twist. The twist itself is such a great development that it makes up for the rest of the issue not being very plot-heavy. The bulk of the issue IS characterization-heavy, though, once you know which character you're reading it.

  24. Jgc21

    Wow, a C? That's harsh. I guess this might be one of those issues that people will either love or hate.I prefer Donovan's review. LOL!

  25. don diablo

    ummm, go back and read it from the beginning with the understanding that OCK is in Pete's body from page 1.

  26. BD

    This is why I like having two reviewers. One gave it an A and the other gave it a C. We're such a negative site though. LOLErik thanks for getting the review out so quick.

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