The Amazing Spider-man #700 (No Rating!)
When I was a kid, I was enthralled by The Amazing Spider-man. Unlike other superheroes, who seemed larger than life, Peter Parker was an ordinary teenager, a bit nerdish, but otherwise your typical academic genius. If that were the end of the story, The Amazing Spider-man probably would not have made it past its trial, pilot issue (Amazing Fantasy #15). In fact, as that series was ending anyway, Stan Lee figured, "Why not?," and printed a story that changed the face of comic storytelling forever.
The rest, as they say, is history. 'Nuff said. Well, not this time.
For, what got me hooked on Spider-man, first and foremost, was the fact that Peter Parker, given a touch of fame and fortune, would probably have reacted the same way as you or I. He got greedy. Self-centered. And he stepped away from a life of goodness and into a life of selfishness. As a result, because his unnatural driving force of avarice was in conflict with the selfless teachings of his Uncle Ben, he failed to act. That's right, he failed to do the right thing by stopping a burglar. As a result, evil won, because a good man failed to do anything. That same burglar came back to haunt him --literally--by shooting his mentor, his Uncle Ben, killing him, and changing the life of one Peter Parker.
And so, he made a decision at that moment that although he can never atone for being partly responsible for the death of his Uncle Ben, he would fulfill his uncle's mantra that with great power comes great responsibility.
That is, of course, until Amazing Spider-man #700 where Peter Parker dies.
Well, sort of.
For, you see, the storytelling of Amazing Spider-Man has plummeted to this. Peter Parker's soul (or mind or whatever) is trapped in the body of Otto Octavius (Dr. Octopus). Similarly, the maniacal twisted mindset of Doc Ock, as he is affectionately known, is confined in the body of Peter Parker.
So, when Peter Parker dies, his body is still intact, only, now, it is controlled by the ruthless nature of Doctor Octopus.
Well, it gets "better."
This new generation of comic book writer is no longer interested in good versus evil. Oh, in case you didn't get the memo, evil does not exist anymore. Good guys aren't really good, and bad guys aren't truly bad; we're all just shades of gray.
And so, Doctor Octopus isn't bad; he's misunderstood. Just as Peter Parker was misunderstood. As a result, Spider-man will be slightly more ruthless, but not really villainous. Oh, the idea of a Spider-man without any moral fibers!
Here is the problem with all of this (which is why I did not read The Amazing Spider-man #700, and cannot give a rating). You KNOW that Peter Parker's soul will find some way to return to his body (it's probably hanging out with Dr. Strange in Bizarro World), and this farce will end.
On top of that, do you know why Gwen Stacey's death is so historic? Because she STAYED DEAD!!! She didn't come back (well, her clone did, but that is a whole different kettle of fish). If everyone and their Aunt May (who also died, by the way, but was "resurrected") dies and then returns, the whole "death" angle loses its potency.
Next, they keep trying to mess with what made Spider-man great in the first place. The witty dialogue. The corny but funny banter with the villains he fought. Sure, it masked his insecurities and fear, and enraged his foes, but it was funny. The fantastic villains (when was the last time Spider-man had a new enemy who was any good?). And they took something logical (he gets older and marries the girl of his dreams: Mary Jane Watson Parker) into something ridiculous (Mephisto wipes out his memory of her in "One More Day" so now he is "single" again). That rubbed people, MANY people, the wrong way. Because many Spidey fans also grew up. And got married. And we wouldn't like the fact if our memories of our wives were wiped clean.
Then, his secret identity was no longer a secret, which went against all of the great stories of the 70s and 80s. The hold that Norman Osborn had on Peter Parker was that he KNEW Parker's identity. If everyone now knows, that angle dissipates. "Fortunately," because of the "One More Day" storyline, that knowledge is also erased from the minds of everyone on Earth.
In fact, the only decent storyline over the past 15 years was "The Clone Saga." Yes, I know everyone trashed it, but most people never even read the entire epic tale, and chose to follow the crowd of those who bashed it. Yes, it was way too long, but if you want to read some gripping storytelling and innovative plot twists, this is the tale for you. In fact, what I loved about this saga was that it reconnected with Spider-man's past in an effective way.
And so, I cannot rate The Amazing Spider-Man #700 because it is not worth rating. When the geniuses at Marvel stop trying to reinvent the wheel and start harnessing the strengths of Spider-man, then, people will return home.
There you have it from a guest blogger and lifelong Spidey fan. What about the rest of you? Have you read the controversial issue? What did you think?