Remember when Marvel Comics revealed that the beloved and immortal Peter Parker was actually a clone, not the real thing? Well, that betrayal was nothing compared to the less than epic conclusion to the original Spider-Man saga.
Released on December 26, The Amazing Spider-Man #700 is the official conclusion to the Spider-Man storyline started by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. As fans were somewhat expecting, and fearing, Peter Parker does indeed die. His memories are implanted in his longtime nemesis Otto Octavius, who will don the Spider-Man suit in Superior Spider-Man #1, the next line for all webheads slated for release this January.
This is not the first storyline where Spider-Man has been permanently killed (the “permanently” is necessary, of course, because, in comic books, everyone dies at least once and then comes back). Writer Brian Michael Bendis recently had Peter Parker lose to the Green Goblin, effectively killing him for the alternate Ultimate Marvel universe. That was when Miles Morales came into the picture and, suddenly, Spider-Man’s race mattered.
However, the fact that more than one writer is willing to end the Peter Parker storyline implies that Marvel Comics is trying to do something incredibly dramatic. Perhaps it is simply a response to DC Comics also starting a series of entirely new origin stories but it also implies that readers are no longer in love the Peter Parker incarnation of Spider-Man.
For example, in the aforementioned new origin storyline by DC Comics, Superman’s powers were drastically played down and his moral ambiguity was intensified. The reasoning behind this was, as fans speculated, that people no longer seem to care for heroes that are invincible boy scouts. If we apply that same logic to Spider-Man’s change, this means that people no longer care for nerds. If that is the case, then my dream of wooing a world famous billionaire supermodel astrophysicist are perhaps too far-fetched.
Another consideration for Marvel, going into the new storyline, will be whether or not fans will embrace the once hated Otto Octavius in a protagonist’s role. Not just any protagonist’s role, in fact, but the protagonist that made Marvel. Metaphorically, perhaps this storyline makes the classic argument about the similarity between two warriors that are fighting each other, which would make it rather unoriginal, considering Shakespeare did it ages ago. Regardless of what it means on a “deeper level” (an oxymoron when talking about 90% of comic books and movies), Marvel is taking a big gamble with audience reaction here.
Of course, this is all just speculation and just as Marvel backpedaled out of the whole clone debacle, so might it backpedal out of this horrid turn of events.
Whatever the case may be, the fact that another beloved hero’s story is ending says something about just how long comic books have been around. The character of Spider-Man, for example, will be celebrating its 50th birthday this year. Stories have moved on to the point that the genius that originally inspired them is no longer even involved, let alone at the helm. As someone who grew up with the story of Uncle Ben and Peter Parker, I simply cannot accept that my hero is dead.
Amazing Spider-Man #700 will hit stores December 26 and is the conclusion this line; it will be followed by Sensational Spider-Man, which will premiere in January.