by Ryan Matsunaga
It’s truly the end of an era. The Amazing Spider-Man has run an incredible 700 issues since its debut in 1963, and at the center of it all is the iconic Peter Parker. Star of countless comics, crossovers, video games, and Hollywood blockbusters, Parker is easily one of the medium’s most recognizable characters.
That all comes to an end in issue #700 however, with the official death of Peter Parker. While death in comic books has rarely been permanent, this one certainly puts a twist on the formula. Not only has Parker died, but his nemesis, Otto “Doctor Octopus” Octavius, is taking his place. In that, I mean in the literal sense as well. In a bizarre turn of events that could only take place in a comic, Doctor Octopus’s mind is now living inside Peter Parker’s body, and is looking to carry on the legacy of Spider-Man.
That’s obviously one of the most massive changes to the character imaginable. It’s a huge shift in the character’s story, and one that’s been so polarizing that death threats have been sent to the creative team.
With this in mind, writer Dan Slott explained the decision to USA Today:
This is Moriarty in the head of Sherlock. This is Prince John inside of Robin Hood. This is the greatest villain inside the body of the greatest hero and trying to do good. This is a guy who was a couple steps way from a bucket list, and now he’s got a whole new lease on life. That’s really going to change him.
He also spoke with CBR, explaining the meta-relevance of us seeing the character in a new light,
He had to be a hero in his own eyes, and on some level Otto Octavius is facing that struggle not with Spider-Man’s world but with the readership. How do you get more Peter Parker than that? Now the readers think he’s a menace. That’s exciting. On a meta level, that is Spider-Man.
This is apparently the beginning of an initiative to re-brand The Amazing Spider-Man into a darker, edgier series called Superior Spider-Man. The new series will be written by Slott, and will feature rotating art from Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos and Giuseppe Camuncoli.
Series editor Steve Wacker says that the struggle of Otto Octavius to take on the mantle of Spider-Man will be the central focus of the series as it transitions. “It’s also what the good part of our first year of Superior is about: Doc behaving in a manner he’s not accustomed to,” says Wacker. “We see a more sympathetic side of Doctor Octopus. We couldn’t have a Spider-Man who was running around murdering people. And I have no interest in seeing that sort of character win.”
The new series launches on January 9th as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative. It’s certainly a controversial way to end such a long-standing character, but at the very least, it’s shaken things up quite a bit.
Photo: Marvel Comics
Ryan Matsunaga is a freelance writer, filmmaker, game developer and superhero. He hopes to one day become a dinosaur. Or a detective. Or both. You can find more of his writing at his personal blog, 8th-Circuit.com, or follow him on Twitter @RyanMatsu.