Saturday, January 05, 2013

My thoughts on Amazing Spider-Man #700, Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, and Dying Wish, etc.

It’s been a week, but in case I need to quote River Song, “Spoilers!”

It’s New Year’s Day (for me) and while I should be sleeping in on my last day of vacation before returning tomorrow to the early morning work schedule and reduced amount of sleep, I just couldn’t for some reason.  So after beginning my yearly trek through the Bible, I reread Dying Wish (Amazing Spider-Man #698, 699, (like two pages of 699.1), 700, and Avenging Spider-Man #15.1) in one sitting.  And you know what?  I’m really enjoying this storyline.

I also just finished reading #688 and 690 thru 697 in the last few days.  What happened to #689?  Yeah, that’s what I would like to know!  I can clearly (98.7%) remember buying that issue and NOT reading it, hence my dropping the title from my pull list right afterwards.  But now I can’t find it around the house (it doesn’t help that my comic room is in a shambles since Comic-Con – I sometimes move at a continental drift pace organizing things).  I only picked up the intervening issues at my store’s 40% off year-end sale (with hopes to sell some short runs on eBay).  I’m reconsidering such a sale now, partly due to the buzz around the recent changes and the fact that I liked a lot of those issues.

I didn’t care too much for the last Lizard story, but “Alpha” was good as well as “Danger Zone” (Hobgoblin vs. Hobgoblin) and really both are lead-ins to the new Marvel NOW titles: the Alpha mini-series and of course Superior Spider-Man (and I guess Morbius too).  So, I partly want to keep them around a little longer to see if I continue to like the upcoming issues.  There are comics that you read and forget and then there are comics that you’ll want to reread.  The latter are the type I want to keep in my collection and I’ve already read Dying Wish twice already, which is a promising sign.  And make no mistake for all you complete-ists, the Superior Spider-Man storyline has its beginnings in “Danger Zone” with Madame Web’s dire predictions (aren’t they all) and the appearance of the gold octobot.  Actually, it all begins in Slott’s outstanding Amazing Spider-Man #600 story, which I once wrote a review about for my comic-store a long time ago (I don’t think they have it anymore and I doubt I can dig up a copy either).  I went from gush to disgust by #601 after Peter’s drunken hook-up with his roommate.  You could throw in “Spider Island” as well, but who wants to remember that.  That’s one thing you can say about Slott’s run on Amazing, some of the plots were outlandish, but the overall execution of the story itself could be entertaining.

I’ve been thinking about the “Dying Wish” storyline a lot since I first read it last Friday.  I’ve read Shawn’s CCX review and Jim’s pre-review from earlier this week.  Both of them bring up some good points and I’m not necessarily going to specifically counter or validate them here, but there could be some overlap or cross-referencing (collect them all!). 

First off, I haven’t been able to relate to Peter Parker for a very long time (and I used to really, really identify with him more than any other comic character).  I’ve been trying to pinpoint the exact moment or issue when that started to happen and I think I’ve got a good idea.  I believe the Howard Mackie/John Byrne relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man (you know after the first time that that title ended) was it.  Peter had told MJ he wasn’t going to be Spider-Man and he was lying to her about being Spider-Man again.  It just didn’t make sense to me.  Lying to protect your secret ID is one thing, but lying to your wife for no good reason that’s horrible and I don’t think there is a good reason in that scenario either.  (My children know that lying to me is one of the worst things they can do – it all stems from the trauma I had as a four-year old and learning that my step-father who I called “Daddy” wasn’t my real father, but I digress.) Then MJ “died”, JMS came on board and brought in the Spider-myth and the cheating and promiscuous Gwen Stacy.  I quit the title immediately (and at the time I had 500 consecutive issues) and only dropped in for #600, before picking up full-time at the start of “Big Time”.  All of the OMD and OMIT stuff, which ticked a lot of people off, I missed.  Anyway, I WAS TICKED OFF A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU GUYS!  The swinging single-life Brand New Day (super-loser) Peter Parker, well he wasn’t recognizable to me already.  Things did improve in “Big Time”, but it almost went to the other extreme (“Look at me I’m a scientific genius.”).  Hey, Pete!  Have you ever heard about humility?  Bottom line this isn’t “my” Peter Parker and I don’t have as much invested in him as I did during the Clone Saga (when he and MJ should have lived happily ever after with Ben Reilly being his Sensational self).

Now, I don’t believe for a second that Peter Parker actually died.  It sure looks like Otto did though; however, he has been resurrected by the Hand before and Morbius claimed he could help him too (I wish I could find solutions so simply, but then I’m not a genius.  You don’t just need to have super-powers to be a hero; you have to be an XX level genius too, which is why Alpha may be a fun book or a total train-wreck).  The whole mind-swap concept is really convoluted.  Were souls involved in that or just engrams?  I think that latter, but only Slott knows for sure.  Madame Web did say Silver Sable was alive, but yet she showed up in Peter’s dream/heaven.  (The whole balancing the scales concept is theologically unsound too.  It’s not the one mistake, it’s any mistake and there is no amount of atoning one can personally due to make things right.  But thank God there is a perfect substitute who can make things right.  Whoops, I’m digressing again.)  I did like seeing some of the other characters in the “perfect” Forest Hills like the kid who collected Spider-Man.  Overall it doesn’t really matter to me, because I’m certain Peter will be back to knowing he’s Peter or back as Peter eventually (I give it two years or 50 issues).  What does make a difference is whether or not he actually experienced the suffering of dying in Doc Ock’s body or not.

Oh, I’ve read that people were complaining how he didn’t really win and that it was a “weak death”.  I can remember a couple of other occasions (one fictional one factual) where the “weak death” turned out to be a victory.  “If you strike me down, I’ll become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” And then there is the one event often celebrated  with eggs and candy.

So, let’s recap (this is getting so long already and I hear feet scampering about).  Not my Peter Parker.  Peter Parker will be back.

Okay, what has generated some of the excitement for me (and others based on the issue sellouts) was beginning the storyline early, a little bit before people expected it.  Although reading the previous issues, it wasn’t hard to see that something big was coming and we all knew #700 was on the horizon. The whole I’ve stole your life moment reminded me of the original Thunderbolts reveal or the death of Captain America.  I wasn’t expecting that!  Let’s see where this goes.  I’m enthused the way I was when Ben Reilly came back.  Now that particular storyline didn’t end as well as it could have, but the possibilities at the start were very promising.  I don’t necessarily think they’re as promising here, but at least they’re interesting. 

It’s almost like Otto (or Peter thinking like Otto) is living through his own version of A Clockwork Orange. The instinct or “ghost” of Peter Parker, not to mention his heart melting sorrows from the life flash, is inhibiting his ability to do wrong, which makes me think he and MJ won’t consummate their relationship again too soon.  He’s going to be good despite himself, but will that change affect him permanently or not?  If he’s a rotting corpse will it even matter?  Maybe it’s the redeeming of Otto Octavius, which will end in a better, no… Superior Peter Parker.  I did like his reaction to his video image in Avenging Spider-Man #15.1.  That issue is crucial to the story.  He goes over the failings of Parker (all true), but admits that he’s been a failure as well (also true) and he was disgusted by how he looked and acted as Doc Ock.  One more thing (again thoughts have been coming at me and who knows how coherent this will all be) Otto’s brain was damaged when he first became Doctor Octopus.  Now, he’s working in an undamaged brain.  Does that make a difference somehow?

Otto has a lot of hard work ahead of him convincing people that he’s really Peter.  His dialogue alone is a big clue that something is wrong.  Carlie knows about the possibility of the mind-swap and she’s BFF with MJ now.  Yeah, Peter’s going to eventually realize he’s still Peter and the revenge Octopus had in mind was the damage he thought Peter would do thinking he’s Doc Ock…maybe.

A few moments (and sentence fragments) that I really enjoyed:

The Trapster figuring out about the mind-swap, but thinking he was the target.
Doc-Spidey lifting Peter-Ock’s head to see his loved ones one final time.
Jonah making up with his father and his encouragement of the new more aggressive “jaw-dropping” Spider-Man.
The pacing of the story.
The deterioration of Ock’s body.  Coughing up blood to control an octobot was intense.
MJ admitting that she still loved Peter.

One moment in time that I didn’t like:

The idea that May slept with Ock before their wedding day.  I’m with Peter.  “That. Never. Happened.”  Only in your dreams Otto!  How can Ock or Peter distinguish past fantasies from real memory?

Oh well, I could go on and on, but I want to start enjoying this first day of the New Year by NOT working on anything.  I might need a nap too…after I’ve built some of the new Batman Legos. I liked the story, I think the new direction is interesting (albeit temporary), and I’m looking forward to how it plays out.  What more could a comic-fan or more specifically a Spidey-fan ask for?  Nuff Said…for now anyways…

1 comment:

  1. Nice review and I also find myself having to say, but I digress (which was a great column that Peter David wrote for many years). And I hope David has a fast recovery. See how easy it is to get off track.

    I think the story is more the illusion of change and not about the redemption of Doc Ock. I mean it could be that Doc improves Peter's life in the end and "steps aside" to let Peter back in, but at the end they have to have Peter back as Spider-Man since another movie is on the way. Why they think movie fans are flocking to the comics is beyond me as Walking Dead it the only one that has done that and it is a TV show.

    Timing for me is a year, but with at least a two a month schedule and Avenging being part of it you could get close to 50 issues.

    I will follow it for awhile, but I'm not pumped to follow it.