The Amazing Spider-Man #698 Review


 DO.

 NOT.

 READ.

 MAJOR!

 SPOILERS!!!!!

I SAID SPOILERS!!!

 

I MEAN IT!!!

 

LAST CHANCE!!!

 

YOU SURE???’

 

ALRIGHTY THEN!!!

 

“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.

Paid in full!

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!

5/5 webs 

(73) Comments

  1. PeterParkerfan

    Spam comment alart! The above spam comment must be deleted. And delete my comment afterwards.

  2. Randy Kemp

    If you Google the World Wide Web, you’ll find out what happens online in issue 700. Someone leaked the ending. Suppose they are correct. Doctor Octopus has been inhabiting Peter Parker‘s body – at least it has Doc’s brain waves. We find Peter’s brain waves trapped in a dying Doc Ock body. What does Peter do? He gets some old villains to break him out. Then he tried to reverse things – within 700 minutes (about 11.67 hours). But Doc has traps, measures and counter measures in place. Here’s my objections: What does psychology and psychiatry say about different personalities inhabiting a body? Isn’t the personality of Otto Gunther Octavius radically different from that of Peter Parker? Just look at any book on personality disorders (i.e. The Three Faces of Eve). Even if someone can superimpose their essence into another body, they won’t be able to control their daily routine like the original person. A case in point is any version of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Even though the alien spore took over the body, those close to them complained they were somehow different. This inhabited Spiderman body is subject to others sensing something is wrong. Any of the science types might start a scientific investigation – Reed Richards, Max and his brainy crew, his former detective girlfriend, etc. How would this invader shield himself from any of the Marvel universe telepathic mutants or mystic types (i.e. Doctor Strange)? And wouldn’t Daredevil sense lies via the heartbeat? Would a leopard suddenly change it’s spots? Why should Doc Ock become “good” just because he can be Spiderman? Otto was doing bad things all though issue 700 and prior issues How would Otto as Peter Parker shield himself from scientific, telepathic and mystic/magical probes? What would I do if I were Peter? I know that Doc Ock has many contingency plans. Remember the old saying – the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Why didn’t Peter just contact his enemy the Jackal? Then he could just transfer his brain waves into a clone? Then he could work with the Jackal to defect Doctor Octopus. After all, the Jackal is also brilliant. I’m sure the Jackal would help – for a price. This would also allow Peter time to defeat both enemies. Why didn’t Peter think of that? Frankenstein is now a hero in the DC Comics world (DC gives the creation the same name as the creator). Suppose Bruce Wayne decided to retire as Batman. He wants to focus on business and humanitarian endeavors. He asks Frankenstein to take over the Batman mantel, while he finances everything. Would the old Batman audience be happy? Can the old Spiderman audience be happy with rumors of leaked endings – if true? One could argue that the composite knowledge and intellect of Otto and Peter is one smart dude.

  3. John Cage

    "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" Except if you don't like the book you should stop reading it. I'm as much a dyed-in-the-wool Spider-fan as anyone (even had my own Spider-Man site back in the day) and I've stopped reading twice because of the quality of the books: Once during the Mackie/Byrne run, and again for the first 9-10 months of Brand New Day. And both times I never felt that I wasn't getting what I was owed -- I just felt like I was getting an inferior book that wasn't worth my money (although in fairness to Brand New Day, a lot of that was because of the massive kick to the balls that was One More Day). If you don't like something, don't keep buying it out of habit. All you're doing is feeding the beast. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but in the past three years I've culled my pull list massively and, really, a month or two later I don't even remember why I bothered with the book in the first place. Plus it gives me more money for the stuff I like and books I've been meaning to check out but never got to. Anyway, I thought the recap was kind of lame too until I got the twist part way through the issue. Couldn't figure out how Ock knew specifics of Spidey's past, but the reveal was well done. Have a good day. John Cage

  4. Jack

    I figured it out: Peter will NOT return to his body. For whatever Slotty reason, he will not be able to do this. But, he'll need to evacuate Otto's dying body. And, he will. Peter/Ock will end up in the villain prison with maximum security and suicide watch to ensure Otto does not harm the body. Peter's mind will occupy a machine or computer of sorts untill he can figure out how to get back into his body. In the meantime, via Horizon, Peter will mentor the new Spider-Man, thus, a Superior Spider-Man will be someone guided by Peter with enhanced gadgets (the claws, talons, eyes lenses, etc.)! Will this work? Hell yea! For a while, anyway. Any thoughts out there?

  5. Masterwslinger

    Was it stated how the spidey jammer was in his head? Could that be part of Ock's plan, that he knew he all about him? Could he have had access to that? Just curious.

  6. Masterwslinger

    ". Doc Ock’s own megalomania won’t allow him to maintain such a charade for too long. Especially once Doc Ock realizes it will be Peter and Spider-Man getting all the recognition that Doc Ock believes he’s entitled to have." The whole magic is a bit chiched. I wish they had never done the Mephisto thing at all. With Ock though, this does seem interesting. I just hope Ock doesn't do what you said happened with Chameleon in that issue. Really? 0o I think Otto, might be dissatisfied. He could find a 'cure' with his 'new' body, and tire of not having a better battle with Peter, sort of homage to the old 90's when Peter was about to die. I mean really, Otto in a bed, dying isn't much of a fight rather than in full strength. Who knows?

  7. Mike 13

    I would rank Slott's run pretty damn high on the list of ASM writers... 1) Stan Lee 2) Marv Wolfman 3) Roger Stern 4) Gerry Conway 5) Len Wein 6) Dan Slott 7) JMDeMattheis 8) DeFalco 9) Micheline 10) Web Trust 11) JMS 12) O'Neill 13) mackie... Just my opinion...

  8. comicfan

    This is what I think. 25 years ago David michelinie wrote Spiderman and he created Venom with Todd Mcfarlane doing the art. That was the big 25th anniversary moment. A new character for the toy box that is still being used and has crossed over into mainstream culture. Honestly doing the 50th anniversary storyline of Spiderman is probably the most important comics Slott will ever write in his entire life, and includes if he runs off and creates his own super indie blockbuster after he is done. The reason being that it will be a book that will looked at during 75th anniversary, then the 100th, and so on forever. It is the only books he will ever write EVER that will be remembered past his own run. Now when you look at it like this, there is nothing in the book that is unique, that is remarkable or that will even be remembered past his own run. I am not saying you can't like it (I don't but whatever) its just nothing he writes will matter. Unless SSM stars a new original character, then it will be meaningless, and add nothing beyond whatever enjoyment or hate you get from the book that day.

  9. jack

    Those that yearn for the old days of "great" story lines -- please, tell us which era you're referring to. Thanks, in advance.

  10. Mike 13

    @48 - you're probably right... I'm an older man whose seen his share of crap throughout my life, and I really strive to avoid negativity in my life... and I fight myself a LOT because I think we all tend to jump on the negative bandwagon... Thanks for your post, and I will make better efforts in the future. :)

  11. Kleaners

    Sorry for all the posts. For some reason my first comment (#58) would NOT post as I had it originally written. Does this board have some sort of weird filter and perhaps it’s blocking a common word?

  12. Kleaners

    Sorry for all the posts. For some reason my first comment (#58) would post as I had it originally written. Does this board have some sort of weird filter and perhaps it's blocking a common word?

  13. Kleaners

    "And so Dan Slott gets to make idiots out of anyone who has ever known Peter Parker, from Aunt May to Mary Jane, if the two of them remotely are hoodwinked by Otto’s disguise…no. Just …no, that isnt the characters I grew up reading, those two would smell a rat immediately." If this happened before issue 698, everyone's already been fooled.

  14. Kleaners

    “The concept art specifies an “alien nose,” referring to the web pattern around the nose.” What concept art is being mentioned here. This comment makes no sense without context.

  15. Kleaners

    How does Octavius know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. I can't remember every issue, but has Spidey's identity been revealed to him?

  16. comicfan

    short version Pete breaks out of jail with other villians shown in 698, they fight ock and lose and all run away Pete goes to the Jackal for help as Jackal already knows his ID and says he wants to take down spiderman Jackal makes a cloned Peter body for pete to hop to, but it is powerless because of some random plot device that slott will make up Jackal and Pete fight and beat Ock but instead of capturing him Jackal unmasks and kills him Pete freaks out, smashes Jackal as he is always a clone and goes underground until he can figure out his next move

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