I SAID SPOILERS!!!
I MEAN IT!!!
“Dying Wish Prelude: Day in the Life”
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Richard Elson
LONG STORY SHORT: Doctor Octopus has switched brains with Spider-Man, just as Ock’s body with Peter’s mind inside dies.
MY THOUGHTS: Dang it. Slott finally got me.
But not in the way you might think.
Dan Slott’s been teasing this issue for months now. From demanding that comic shop retailers order extra copies to swearing vengeance on anyone who spoils it online before the issue hits the stands. (Good luck with that.) Predictably, the massive hype for #698 gave way to several theories on what would happen and how it would lead into ASM #700 and Superior Spider-Man. Some guessed that Kaine would be the new Spider-Man. Others such as myself wrongly figured that Mary Jane would be killed off in order to make Spider-Man into a less friendly and more grim’n gritty character for the new Marvel NOW! title.
Out of all the theories however, none were as off the wall and out of nowhere as what eventually happens in this story. And yet weeks before the comic came out, there was one person who guessed it ahead of time on this website’s very podcast.
For those of you who are not part of our Message Board community, Crazy Chris is an admin, reviewer for the front page and panelist on the Crawlspace podcast. It was there in the October 2012 series of episodes where he sarcastically threw out the theory that Doctor Octopus was going to switch bodies with Peter Parker as his final revenge to escape death and destroy Spider-Man. At the time we all scoffed at the idea and took it as a silly joke. In the weeks that followed however, a series of teases for Superior Spider-Man lead to Chris being more and more certain of his guess, to the point where he eventually put up a list of reasons why he felt Doc Ock inhabiting Spider-Man’s body was the only possible outcome of this final arc in the Amazing title.
“The new Spider-Man probably IS Otto Octavius in Peter’s body because – He has all the character traits described in the article – Doc Ock would absolutely consider himself “superior.” That word jives with his personality more than any other Spidey character – The eyepieces look like his goggles – The concept art specifies an “alien nose,” referring to the web pattern around the nose. This makes the character appear more animalistic and otherworldly . . . like an octopus – He could invent new abilities for himself like retractable claws – It would explain why the sinister six will need a new member – It would explain Slott’s earlier comment about MJ and Peter getting what they want but not how they want it–MJ thinks she’s with Peter but it’s really Otto – We know the final ASM story arc involves Doc Ock – This would resolve the “Doc Ock is dying” plot
I think that summarizes why my theory is what it is, and why it is the theory that makes the most sense and fits the best with what we know.”-Posted Wednesday, October 10th 2012
Chris is a smart guy. If you read his reviews, you can tell that behind every thought and opinion he makes lies honest reasoning and critical thinking which leads to a very straightforward and reliable conclusion for whatever he’s talking about. Inane as the idea was, it was these clues which seemed to point the future of Spider-Man down to its eventual destination. So in all honesty when I say I had known about the ending, it’s due solely to Chris’ assertions and guesswork.
With all that being said, Dan Slott still managed to fool me long enough for the ending to be a complete surprise.
How is that possible? How can someone know the ending of a mystery with all the clues given and still be stunned when all is revealed?
I don’t think I’m being new in saying that I don’t take Dan Slott very seriously as the writer on this title. I don’t hate the guy, but going into every issue he’s written, I go with only so much enthusiasm and interest in how he can pull a story off. I don’t think Slott’s one of the best Spider-Scribes in the Web-Spinner’s 50 year history, nor do I think that his run will stand the test of time when compared to the classics like Stan Lee, Gerry Conway and Roger Stern.
But dang it, he’s a very good writer when he wants to be.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect besides the Chris’ clues I had to work on when I began reading this issue. By the title page with Spider-Man however, I started a long cycle of eye-rolls and exasperated groans. This was Slott on PCP. Continuity porn. Painful, poorly written exposition. Unnatural dialogue. Why would Peter say this about himself? Why would he say that? It read like a story on the back of a Shoney’s menu. Every scene was Peter re-introducing the readers to his life, his status quo and his past. “Was this supposed to be a jumping on point for new readers, three issues before the series ended?” I thought. I was ready and willing to chop this thing up for Thanksgiving dinner.
Then this page comes up. Suddenly it all makes sense.
I won’t go as far to say that Slott has been deliberately been writing under par in order to slip snobby comic book fans like me under a false sense of superiority. I will say that his obvious love of classic Spider-Man does him in as a technical writer much of the time, to the point where the book reads like it’s out of time and belongs in the mid-1970s at the latest. This isn’t the case with every issue he writes, but it’s a fair average. So when Doc Ock reveals that he has been in Peter’s body, gaining his memories and taking over his life just before Peter in Ock’s body is about to pass away, it’s the perfect punctuation to a tale that feels as though it belongs in an older time. This is a very old-school, mad scientist plot. The difference however between this issue and Slott’s run is in the delivery. Slott uses exposition and “jumping on point issue” tropes to his advantage where it read badly, but still nothing out of his ordinary work. It makes the reveal that much more powerful, that much more surprising because it’s right when it’s most convenient for the character of Otto Octavious where he can gloat and proclaim his victory in a safe environment that won’t lead to any humiliating destruction. It’s so in-character, but presented in such an almost subversive way that it exceeds any expectations I had for the story.
I have not been this excited about a Spider-Man issue in five years since the JMS run. I have been so bitter and exhausted with the character and how this current team of writers have been portraying him, that it really is owed to the Crawlspace for keeping me invested in him still up to this point. I’ve been critical to the point of ruthlessness in my reviews because of what I’ve felt was a lack of care for the character, the storytelling process or the fans. Basically, I’ve been mad a long time whenever I think about Spider-Man.
But this is the best issue that has come out of the title in years. The key is in the storytelling, which is superb. Even without the clues, the twist hits you square in the face without warning. It’s so diabolical, yet manages to be pulled off without straying from the logical. Sure, we have no clue when or how this first happened, but in this issue it doesn’t matter. What we need to know is how Otto is now acclimating to Spider-Man’s life, and how in the world can Peter get himself out of this one.
One of the best nail biters I’ve ever read in a Spider-Man comic. I even knew the outcome, and yet I was still floored by its execution. A true tour de force.
NOW DON’T SCREW IT UP BY #700!