Well, here we are. The big 700, and finally we have an answer to the big question.
Who is the new Spider-Man?
Actually, lets hold off on that for a second.
First, let's take the issue as a whole. It's a whopper of a book, all 104 pages of it, and after my initial reading I wasn't angry or even sad. I wasn't sure what to feel. Before we get into specifics, spoilers abound after this point. You have been warned though, so with that said let's dive in.
I agree with Dan Slott's words on Twitter recently. He said, "A book is more than a single page or a single panel," and I couldn't agree more. I tend to detest spoilers in general, and the last 3 issues of Slott's run have been plagued by them, but somehow I avoided the proverbial spoiler mine field that is Twitter and was able to digest all 3 of these final issues with an unclouded lens. 700 is the latest and last issue of Amazing Spider-Man, and you can tell even in the first few pages. Throughout the story we see characters from all points of Peter's life, living and not, and you truly get a sense that this era of Spider-Man is coming to an end. While I thought this particular segment was a bit drawn out for my tastes, it's not worth any kind of ding on the issue as a whole.
I'll be honest. I genuinely thought that Peter would find someway out of this, and by the end of the issue we would indeed have a new Spider-Man, but not because Peter was no longer around. I put together in my head that he would have to do something that crossed his very well defined moral line, and because of that circumstance he would pass the mantle to someone else. Kudos to Slott and Marvel for having the stones to follow through with their vision, regardless of how you feel about it. The premise is solid, and if it's anything like the last few pages of 700, I could find myself loving Dr. Octavius' time under the mask. He's cocky, full of himself, and supremely intelligent. Other than their intellect, he's nothing like Peter. He's not different in the cliché 90's way either. The being edgy and rebellious for the sake of being different (see also: umpteen pouches for no reason). He's a character with real history and a true, albeit wierd, connection to Peter, and personally I'm intrigued with where they go from here.
Now I know that some people are not happy with this new status quo and I totally understand that, to a point. We all have characters we love, and to see them die or just not utilized to their full potential is crushing to a long time comic fan (I'm still waiting on my Cardiac revival). However, one of the reasons these characters have lasted so long is the creativity of the teams behind the wheel, and I think Slott and co. have earned enough trust to be able to do something fresh and different with the character, especially without being threatened or insulted. Some people will say it's One More Day all over again, but I disagree. One More Day is a hot button issue for me. If you want to see me rage in all my nerd glory just bring up that story and sit down for about 30 minutes because I have alot to say. My biggest problem with it wasn't that they wanted a new direction, it was how they went about it. The decision was based on one man's opinion of something not related to comics in any way, and he shoe horned that belief into the character's mythos. This is vastly different. A new direction for a character that has been around a long time isn't the end of the world, and while I understand it's disappointing for Peter fans (I use to include myself in that group btw), it doesn't' take away from the potential this new storyline presents.
As for the inevitable questions on whether Peter will be back anytime soon, here are Dan's thoughts on the subject (courtesy of Newsarama).
Nrama: OK, I get the humor, Dan. But there are also fans who are saying this isn't permanent. We've seen mind-swaps and people with leftover memories or personalities before in comics, like Rogue and Carol Danvers. Most people think it's only a matter of time before Peter comes back, so was the mindswap technique used to leave that door more easily opened?
Slott: I love that response. I love that immediate response of "this won't last." To me, that's the same kind of mindset that says, "Oh, well, Mr. Freeze trapped Batman in a snowcone machine, but he'll get out next week." When I think of the number of times I've put Spider-Man in, like, a death trap or a terrible situation, and readers immediately go, "Well, come on, the book's called Amazing Spider-Man. What? They're not going to publish it next month? Of course he'll get out." And it only took us to go, "Hey, guess what? We're canceling Spider-Man at #700" to make people realize this is real. It's like people freaking out that Wally West was The Flash. "There's only one Flash! It's Barry Allen!" Or before that, when they said, "Barry Allen isn't the Flash! It's Jay Garrick!" I know every single person has done that for The Flash at some point.
Evidently Stan doesn't agree with the new direction. Might be more out of jest than seriousness,
but the pic, serious or not, represents how some people feel.
One, he has a point. Two, I actually like when companies take chances. With Batman RIP, I was aggravated with DC for not keeping Bruce away longer, because I felt they didn't give Grayson the time he deserved under the cowl. I felt they dipped their toe in the pool, got push-back, and then bid a hasty retreat and moved up the timetable for his return. In Marvel's case, Captain America was away longer than I expected him to be, and while I was glad he returned, they probably could've even waited longer. The fact is we have to miss our heroes every now and then to truly appreciate them. It's also okay to go somewhere new. It might not be what Stan Lee wants, but that's okay, you can't please everyone. What you can do is tell an interesting story that doesn't end quite like everyone thinks it will. I always thought Peter would win, and Slott and co. took my expectations and gave me something I wasn't prepared for, and ultimately something I actually quite enjoyed.
I might be in the minority here, but to me Amazing 700 was a wonderful send off for a true hero, and a promising start in the journey to redemption of a longtime villain. For me that was enough, but if you disagree then let me know and tell me why. Always eager to hear your thoughts.