Dan Slott’s series-ending Amazing Spider-Man #700 is really two superhero stories in one: the death of a superhero and the origin story of another. From the time I discovered the ending of this story in the spoiler leak several days ago, to actually sitting down to read the issue, I’ve been trying to piece together what exactly frustrates me so much about this storyline. Is it that Peter Parker dies a horrible death? Actually, no. Superhero deaths are nothing new, and with the comic book industry’s illustrious history of retconning and bringing characters back to life, I imagine we haven’t seen the last of Peter Parker. Not to mention, superhero death stories can be genuine works of art. It wasn’t so simple as just being an irate fan who doesn’t want to see his childhood hero’s demise. So why did this disappoint me so much? After all, it is just a comic book. These aren’t real people. They’re characters in a story. But no. It is more than just a story. There is a philosophy in every comic book. People don’t read comics merely for the fireworks of two emotionally damaged people in leotards beating the hell out of each other. No, we read comics for what the stories tell us about ourselves and the world around us. And my problem with Amazing Spider-Man #700 is that in attempting to show how a villain might be redeemed and rise to the challenge of heroism, instead, Slott has written an origin story which thoroughly misunderstands what makes a hero.
Let’s face it. The average, everyday comic is not much unlike a soap opera. Drama unfolds, bizarre elements are thrown in and the stories continue on in a never ending serialization. Of course, comics have the potential to be so much better, and they have been, but they’re normally the same. People even make fun of them for the same things. In soap operas everyone has an evil twin, people fight over who gave birth to what baby, everyone has amnesia, and people come back from the dead.
These gimmicks are trademarks to the soap opera genre and these gimmicks are what keep the general population from seeing them as anything other than a joke. In comics, people are cloned, babies come in and out of continuity, there’s amnesia and comas, and people come back from the dead. Those are the gimmicks that make many people think comic books are a joke.
Spider-Man doesn’t help that image. Spider-Man is a gimmick. Not Spider-Man himself, but the stories he appears in. Think about the most well known Spider-Man stories in the last 20 years. The ones that got either a lot of attention from the media, or just stick out like sore thumbs in the ongoing story of Peter Parker. There was “the Clone Saga”, where Peter was cloned and a new character, Ben Reilly took his place for a time. That went on for several years during the ’90s. Then a few years later, with the release of Spider-Man in theaters, there was “The Other”, where Peter Parker was turned into a giant spider, died, and gave birth to himself just so he’d have organic web shooters like in the movie.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
If you’re a fan of comic books and you use the internet, which I think is likely given that you’re reading a comic book blog right now, you’ve probably already seen that the ending of Amazing Spider-Man #700 was leaked today and anyone who has seen the spoiler now knows who becomes the Superior Spider-Man, a plot point which has been shrouded in secrecy for months now.
Again, SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you’re curious, if you don’t care about spoilers, or if, like me, you are so fed up with Dan Slott and his shitty shitty oh so shitty Amazing Spider-Man stories and don’t care anymore, here is the link.
Of course, since this is a spoiler preceding even the release of advance copies, either it’s fake or some sneaky intern at Marvel (or Dan Slott, for all we know, given his track record of fucking with readers) took pictures of the actual book and posted it on 4chan. Now, I am pretty confident this is real, since I saw on Dan Slott’s Facebook page today that he wrote a post saying that ASM 700 had leaked and everyone should be careful if they don’t want it ruined for them. Plus, the leak isn’t just a plot description; there are actual pictures there, and the images are clearly Humberto Ramos’s penciling.
Story – Dan Slott
Art – Humberto Ramos
When I was a little kid, around middle school age, I had an almost sadistic fascination with destruction. I would often take old action figures I no longer used, place them in a plastic bowl filled with water, and put them in the freezer. The next day, Daredevil or Batman would be frozen in the ice, often with one limb awkwardly sticking out. I’d take these frozen action figures outside and hurl them into the air just to watch them shatter on the sidewalk. Dan Slott, as a writer, is like me as a bored middle school kid on a summer day. Dan Slott has taken Spider-Man, our Spider-Man, and hurled him into the air just to watch him shatter.
Maybe I’m being hyperbolic. But I have been so let down and angered over Slott’s stories and writing, that it truly does feel like more than just the end of The Amazing Spider-Man; it feels like destruction. Ruination. With each passing issue he does, I feel that he has taken one more brick out of Spider-Man’s foundation. My feeling right now is that next month’s last issue, #700, Slott will remove the keystone, and we’ll all have to suffer through Spider-Man’s destruction.
With the Marvel NOW! reboot, Marvel is ending a lot of their long running titles and relaunching their characters in new titles, situations and status quos. One of these relaunches centers around the long running Amazing Spider-Man ending it’s run with issue 700, and relaunching with a new Superior Spider-Man #1.
Johnnie: As you predicted, Jason, Spider-Man is getting rebooted in January, but no tentacles!
Jason: I think I would have prefered tentacles. This just seems underwhelming in the sense that they ended the 700 issue run Amazing Spider-Man to make Spider-Man all pissed off and angry. That sounds like Black Suit Spider-Man. If they were going to end ASM, I would prefer it be something crazy, like Spider-Man with Doc Ock tentacles. As stupid as that would have been.
Johnnie: Oh goddammit. You’re so right. They did this before with the symbiote storyline. It’s the same thing pretty much except something DRASTIC and TERRIBLE will happen that will make Peter like that naturally. Mary Jane will probably die and we’ll get that shot of Spider-Man raising his fist at the sky vowing to avenge her death. Just like the whole Gwen Stacy ending. And we’ll all be expected to go “Oh, I see what you did there”. Continue reading