Waiting for the Trade
by Bill Miller
Amazing Spider-man: Dying WishBy Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos and Richard Elson
Collects Amazing Spider-man 698-700.
Why I bought this: I love Spidey in general and this is the biggest Spidey story in years, possibly decades so I frickin’ preordered this on Amazon to get as soon as it hit trade.
The Plot: Doc Ock manages to switch brains with Spider-man putting Pete in Ock’s body just as Ock is at death’s door.
Heavy spoilers ahead:
Chapter 1 – In prison we see Ock doesn’t have long to live. We then see a fairly typical day in the life with Pete being in an upbeat mood as he stops crimes, does some science stuff at Horizon Labs and socializes with MJ and Aunt May. The Avengers page Spidey saying Ock is asking for him and doesn’t have long to live. Spidey agrees to visit him and in private we learn that Ock has switched their brains though each has access to all of the other’s memories. Peter-Ock then goes into cardiac arrest.
Chapter 2 – Doctors revive Peter-Ock but they feel he has less than 24 hours left to live. Peter imagines all the damage Ock can do in his body including killing his loved ones or using his Avengers security codes to take down the team. He then accesses Ock’s memories to realize how Ock did this and it dates back to issue 600 when Pete used a mental control helmet to override Ock’s Octobots which then gave Ock a copy of Pete’s brainwaves. Pete then uses Ock’s memories to activate one of his escape plans to hire a new Sinister Six to bust him out of jail although he only ends up with three: Scorpion, Hydroman and Trapster. Peter-Ock then offers the villains millions to bring him Spider-man alive.
Chapter 3 - Octo-Peter is taking MJ on a date when he discovers “Doc Ock” has escaped from prison on the news. Ock then goes to the airport to book a flight to
and not return until Peter dies. Meanwhile in Ock’s undersea lab Ock’s body
goes into cardiac arrest again, Peter goes to heaven and chats with Uncle Ben
and every other major dead cast member and Ben tells him to get up and fight
one more time. Back in the world Peter-Ock is recovers and orders the villains
to go to the police. Mayor Jameson gets on TV and calls Ock a loser, which
angers Octo-Peter enough that he decides to stay in Belgium to prove to himself that he can
beat Spider-man in a fight. At the police station Peter-Ock runs into Carlisle
Cooper and tells her about the brain-swap but she doesn’t believe him. When she
fires on him the arms react instinctively and injure her. Pete feels bad but
with time running out he takes what he came for from the police impound--the
brainwave helmet that set this in motion 100 issues ago—and leaves. Octo-Spidey
gathers Pete’s loved ones in New York to protect them
from Ock, while showing them Peter’s plane ticket to explain Peter’s absence.
He says they are being targeted by Ock because of the revelation that Peter
builds Spidey’s tech at Horizon. Ock tries to self destruct his undersea base
with the villains in it but Peter has already disarmed the device since they
share memories. So Ock-Spidey just calls the police and tells them where Ock’s
base is. Scorpion and Hydroman take out the cops as Pete wonders how far he
will let the villains to get his life back. Back inside Trapster realizes Peter-Ock
has built a new brain-swap helmet and is afraid he is Ock’s intended victim so
Peter-Ock neutralizes him pretty quickly. MJ tells Peter she still loves him
but of course it’s Ock and not Peter in one of those great Spider-man ironies
and they share a kiss. Peter-Ock goes to Avengers
to tell one of the super science guys there what has happened but it is too
late as Ock has activated all of his Octo-bots across the city and the Avengers
are out dealing with them. So finally we get the physical fight between the two
of them with the other villains helping Octo-Peter. Octo-Spidey gets rid of
them by “letting it slip” that Jameson is here among Peter’s loved ones and
Scorpion’s obsession with Jameson takes over so that he and Hydroman abandon the
fight. Max Modell defeats Hydroman as Scorpion threatens Peter’s loved ones.
Scorpion goes too far when he threatens Aunt May (whom Ock was once engaged to)
and Octo-Spidey hits him full strength and dislocates his jaw as Ock realizes
just how strong Peter’s body is. When
Peter sees this he realizes just how much damage Ock can do as him and realizes
he has to stop him at any cost so he uses the Ock arms to throw them both at
the window. Octo-Spidey saves them both with a web cushion. Peter plays his
final card by having the brain switch robot attack but Ock has protected his
skull and then he hauls off and decks his own dying body. As Peter-Ock is dying
he flashes back to Uncle Ben and Octopus sees the memory too. Peter realizes
the brainwave link partially functions even without the machine and floods Ock
with memories of his entire life and career as Spidey in a series of gorgeous
splash pages. And then Peter dies telling Ock the lesson of With Great Power
and Great Responsibility while getting him to promise to keep his loved ones
safe. As he stands over his own dead body, Octo-Spidey vows to be a Avengers Towers Superior Spider-man than Pete was.
Bonus 1 – An old Peter is hanging out with his grandson and tells him about his life as Spidey, albeit with some memory gaps.
Bonus 2 – Back when Peter was dating the Black Cat she gets a new apartment and manages to steal things to decorate it behind Peter’s back while he fights a giant robot.
Critical Thoughts: Simply Fabulous. Issue 700 is every bit as epic as it should be. This is an instant classic worthy to be included in the pantheon of the greatest Spider-man stories ever told as Peter and Ock play this intense game of mental chess anticipating each other moves back and forth and taking advantage of weapons and alliances available to them in their new identities.
The two set-up issues are also well done, particularly the narration in chapter 1 which reads like a typical Spider-man picking himself up for a new day story and then once you know the plot twist the exact same narration takes on a completely different connotation.
That Slott ties his explanation to how Ock was able to do this back to issue 600 gives this story an even more epic feel as it looks like something that has been in the works for 100 issues set between two big landmark numbers for the character. Issue 600 in general did a lot to make Ock a much more credible threat, as there was long period where he was clearly no longer at the same level as the Goblins and symbiotes. Slott has been building Ock up throughout his run on the title and this is a hell of a payoff.
There are a few quibbles. To me the biggest one is Jonah suddenly coming around and seeing Spidey as a hero. First of all in a general sense Spidey saved the life of Jonah, his son and pretty much everyone who works at the Bugle scores of times and Jonah has never come around so why should this time be different? In a more specific sense Jonah’s problem with Spidey has always been his fear that an unknown masked man not accountable to anyone would cross the line and go out of control one day, (in fact Jonah’s been shown for years to support Captain America because his identity is subject to government oversight) so to have him change his mind in a scene where Spidey brutalizes Scorpion is completely contrary to the entire motivation of the character. I get Slott is doing it for the irony of ‘Jameson’s finally stops thinking of Spider-man as a menace only when he actually is a menace--nyuk nyuk’ factor; but it just does not work if you know the history of Jameson’s character. That same type of poetic irony works perfectly in the Mary Jane scene so using irony isn’t always a bad choice, but I don’t think works for Jameson.
Ditto the use of Ock’s prior history with Aunt May. There’s a scene when Pete accesses Ock’s memories and it is implied he relives Ock and May having sex. That’s just icky and unnecessary especially for a story of this magnitude. Conversely having Ock treat the threat the villains pose to Pete’s loved ones as a game until Scorpion threatens May is a good use of that same old continuity between Ock and May.
Finally while I can see the argument that having Pete force Ock to relive his memories as a way of getting him to embrace being a hero is a shortcut that is too external to Ock to make him really change; I disagree. I found the scene to be quite powerful and I loved the flashback collage and narration. Here Pete is dying and we see the “amazing” life he’s lived and it inspires Ock to be a hero, making it Pete’s last heroic validating act. That doesn’t mean Ock is instantly a good person now, it just means he’s going to try to be a hero which sets up the fun of the Superior title: seeing Ock try to live up to Pete’s legacy--which this being comics he will almost certainly fail at so Pete can reclaim his life later in what will hopefully be a story just as epic as this one.
Grade A+. If you’re going to kill off Spider-man and cancel the flagship title of the Marvel Universe you better have a damn good story to live up to that. Fortunately Slott has an excellent one in this trade.
PS – As for the bonus stuff, the first one is crap but I found the Black Cat story to be a fun little throw away but then I like Felicia.
Jesse Baker just exploded.ReplyDelete
I'm grateful Marvel didn't add #699.1, the back-door Morbius pilot issue, just so they could kick the price up a couple of bucks.ReplyDelete
I'm not a fan of the concept or Slott's writing (generally speaking), but one day I'll give this a read and see how I like the story.ReplyDelete
Three issues seems mighty slim for a trade. And for $25?ReplyDelete
It's 18.99 on Amazon for the hardcover.ReplyDelete
I want to catch up on Spider-Man, but the last thing I read (I think), was the buildup to Spider-Island. So what trades should I grab to catch up currently?ReplyDelete
This could be a jumping on point trade on its own because it changes the status quo and the first Superior trade just came out. I suppose if you want to back up further you could try the build up to Ends of the Earth on to see what Ock was up to before this battle but it's by no mean's essential to do so.ReplyDelete
Dollars to donuts this entire Octo-Spidey thing is resolved by Norman Osborne because it'd be all ironic and stuff, y'know.ReplyDelete
didnt this like just happen, and they already have it out on trade?ReplyDelete
because ben reilly, thats whyReplyDelete
That is one awesome thing about Marvel. It's one of the few things I like about their line. They get their trades out PRONTO, unlike DC, which waits a year or more in many cases.ReplyDelete
I was about to say, I'm surprised we haven't seen Baker's rants on "Slott hates Peter so he wants to push rapist Ock at us as the REAL Spidey" and such yet.ReplyDelete
I will say this: as much as people hate Humberto Ramos' artwork I love it. It's distinct.ReplyDelete
Issue 700 by itself cost $8 when it initially releasedReplyDelete
#700 is about the length of three regular issues.ReplyDelete
I just think its the super chunky feet and that pose he always makes characters do when they are shouting (open mouth ,stretching their neck out, bent forward at the waist, arms back & out to the side) that puts me off :-/ReplyDelete