Thursday, January 3, 2013

1209 - The End of Amazing And Why I'm Cool With It

So... Amazing Spider-Man is no more... here comes the Superior Spider-Man...

I guess I shouldn't worry about spoiling the final issue since it's been out for a while, people know about it, and are most likely complaining about it... so if you haven't read the book... you had your chance.

So after 700 issues of Amazing Spider-Man, the series closes with Otto "Doctor Octopus" Octavius as Spider-Man and Peter Parker having gotten what many are calling an unjust and underwhelming demise in a withering shell after the two switched bodies. As with most things that attempt to shake up the status quo, this has resulted in fanboy rage reaching fever pitches and pitchforks aimed as the creative masterminds behind this concept. And since I have a knack for tossing my two cents long after the point of relevancy, I figured... why not?

Did Parker's death bother me? Not really... and I can really narrow it down to two main reasons;

1) Despite what Marvel will tell you about this being a permanent change, the truth of the matter is that this is going to be a temporary shake up of the status quo before Peter Parker rises from the dead or whatever and takes up the mantle of Spider-Man once more... or rather, reclaim his body... or something.  And it's not the first time they tried to pull the whoo on comic fans.

Remember that whole Clone Saga when Marvel attempted to convince us that the Peter Parker we all knew and loved was actually a clone and the real Parker was a guy named Ben Reilly? At one point, the idea was to retire Peter Parker for good and continue onwards with the adventures of Ben Reilly as Spider-Man... except the idea didn't stick and eventually Reilly was killed off and Parker was back as Spider-Man. Business as usual.

And then there was the soft reboot by John Byrne where Peter Parker was retired as Spider-Man and someone else was taking up the reigns... that didn't last long either and eventually Parker was back as Spider-Man while the replacement ended up being the then-latest incarnation of Spider-Woman before she was killed off a couple years back because Bendis brought back the original Spider-Woman... or something, I don't know. I don't care.

And as far as that death bit goes, come on. Didn't they kill off Captain America a few years back? And now he's back. Ditto for the Human Torch, which made the big headlines that one of the oldest Marvel characters was getting the axe a couple years back... and then they brought him back. How many times did they kill Jean Grey and brought her back to life a short time afterwards? At least this time, they sort of tossed a curveball by bringing back the original X-Men from the 60s to the modern day, so it's not a pure resurrection  but still... death in comics is rarely permanent. Jason Todd is certainly the best proof of that, even though that's an example from the distinguished competition... I don't even know if they still call them that.

And while we're on that train, remember when Superman died? Yeah...

The point is that this is going to be a temporary thing. It'll probably last a year, maybe two... but eventually, things will be back to the normal status quo... or something close to it.

2) The other main reason why I'm not bothered by the way Parker died in Amazing 700 is, simply put, I felt strongly that Peter Parker was already dead by that point and this was confirming what I had already known. To me, Spider-Man died back in 2007 in a storyline called "One More Day". And for those who are unfamiliar with that storyline, it is perhaps one of the most infamous and most reviled Spider-Man stories ever written. A story where Peter Parker, who is about to lose his Aunt May after she suffered a fatal gunshot wound, was confronted by Mephisto, essentially the Marvel equivalent of the Devil - who had offered to save his aunt's life in exchange for his marriage to Mary Jane... essentially writing out the marriage out of continuity, as it were.

And in a totally uncharacteristic move that killed the character in my eyes, Peter makes a deal with the devil and suddenly, Peter is single, his Aunt May is alive and well, and my interest in the character is utterly destroyed because, well, what's the point? The Spider-Man that I followed for several years suddenly ceased to exist, replaced by this shallow shell of a Spider-Man that may look like him, talk like him, act like him, but the pureness and the essence of the character was lost. Now we got a Spider-Man that, if things go so badly that all hope seems lost, he could always make a deal with the devil and everything is hunky-dory. Balls.

The last thing I want to do is ramble about One More Day because it's old news, it doesn't deserve any more press, and quite frankly, the less said about that piece of shit, the better... but I have to wonder about the major flaw in that thing. Aunt May is dying and suddenly you have this deal from the devil... why wasn't this deal offered when Aunt May was dying back in the 90s? In fact, she did die. Amazing Spider-Man #400; May Parker was released from the hospital, spends some time with Peter, reveals to him that she knew all this time that he was Spider-Man, told him how proud she was of him, and then died peacefully in bed surrounded by family. It was a really touching moment and I thought it was a natural progression of the character's history. A bit of growth. A bit of change...

But if you recall what I just said earlier, comic deaths are rarely, if ever, permanent. So of course, that didn't last. Lasted a few years before they decided that, no, it wasn't really Aunt May who died, but a lookalike actress. Aunt May was actually stashed away in Norman Osborn's crib all that time or something - somehow still alive despite being a somewhat feeble old woman. And that whole ordeal, that whole touching moment, that beautiful send-off and closure to a vital supporting character was suddenly made irrelevant and meant nothing in the long term.

So remembering that whole thing... it made no sense to me that Parker lost his spine when May was on her deathbed and made this deal with the devil to undo that whole thing or whatever. And so that, to me, was when Spider-Man really died and what we saw was just a shell that lacked the soul that made Parker such an endearing character that you could root for. And then there was Joey Q's haphazard attempt at damage control called One Moment In Time, which I thought was pretty worthless, all things considered.

Which brings me back to the "death" of "Peter Parker" in Amazing 700. Given that thought process, the closing moments of the issue didn't bother me that much, if at all. There was no real emotional investment in that story, because it had all but been killed off ages ago. So, I guess, in a way, I should be happy that Parker died the way he did, because when they bring back him to life - and they will bring him back to life, eventually - it could easily be seen as coming back with a clean slate. A Peter Parker who's come back with his soul cleansed and purified... or something to that extent. Maybe that's the whole idea behind the end of Amazing 700 - killing off an iconic character that had been tainted by past sins and bringing him back to life with renewed vigor and a clean slate somewhere down the line.

If nothing else, the only thing this Dying Wish storyline served was to offer a sample of what to expect from the upcoming Superior Spider-Man. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in seeing where they go with the whole Doc Ock as Spider-Man angle. In fact, it might be the most interest I've ever shown for the character since before that whole Civil War schlock. So, if this can get me (and keep me) hooked on the book and that character once again, I'm sold.

So, let's see what happens next.


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