Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 Review

Posted by Spiderfan001 29 December 2012

After the events of Amazing Spider-Man #700, new series writer Chris Yost takes us through Doctor Octopus' first days as the Superior Spider-Man!

The Story

Reveling in the fact that he has finally defeated Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus sets out to become a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was.  After setting up a date with Mary Jane and improving on Peter's inventions, Ock decides that the resources available to him at Horizon Labs are insufficient and breaks into one of his old labs as Spider-Man.  Unfortunately, Ock's old security system registers him as a threat, forcing him to fight his own octo-bots.  During the fight, Ock realizes that despite his "superior" intellect, Peter Parker always found a way to beat him.  After dealing with his octo-bots, Ock decides that he has to be better than both Peter Parker and his former self.  Later, while donning his new costume, Ock declares that Doctor Octopus is dead, long live the Superior Spider-Man!


This issue might as well have been Superior Spider-Man #0.1, as Yost gives us a pretty clear picture of what the upcoming new Spider-Man series is going to be like.  Yost is used to writing a darker, grumpier Spider-Man thanks to his work on Scarlet Spider (which is a title all Spidey fans should check out if they haven't already).  I gotta say, the Superior Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider are similar in many ways in that both are ex Spider-Man villains who are trying to redeem themselves by taking on the mantle of past spider-themed heroes.  As a result, this issue hit a lot of the same notes one can find in an issue of Scarlet Spider.  You can't help but think of Kaine as Ock mocks all of Peter's past achievements or when he reluctantly takes down a thief.

Another problem with this issue was that I had a hard time figuring out why exactly Doc Ock wants to be a superhero.  He accepted that with great power comes great responsibility at the end of ASM #700, but he's pretty happy about killing Peter Parker at the beginning of this issue.  From this issue, it seems as though Ock is motivated not by the lesson he learned from Peter at the end of #700, but merely by the drive to surpass Peter in everything he did.  This difference makes Ock a more difficult character to root for.  Also, I have a hard time believing that Mary Jane hasn't yet noticed that something is clearly wrong with Peter.  Ock hasn't exactly been subtle in displaying his true personality, so it's odd that the person who knows Peter Parker better than anyone else hasn't picked up on the brain swap.

Despite my griping, I really did enjoy this issue.  Paco Medina did a beautiful job drawing it, and once you're able to stop nitpicking the premise, Yost's take on Ock in Peter's body is a great read.  There are several lines in this comic that are priceless as Ock tries to get used to Peter's powers, memories, and co-workers.  Reading Doc Ock having to team up with the other heroes in the Marvel Universe under Yost's watch should be a lot of fun.  Oh, and we need a team up with Scarlet Spider.  Kaine was the one who killed Ock the first time, so a team up between the two of them now would be priceless.       


Plot Summary: Peter in Doctor Octopus’ dying body tries desperately to regain his body while Ock in Pete’s body plays defense. They battle and ultimately Peter’s time runs out but not before Peter provides a relapse of his entire life through Ock’s mind.
Influenced by Peter’s heroic past which has now become his own, Ock finally understands the responsibility mantra, and swears to become a superior Spider-Man.

Opinion: For a final to one of the most popular and celebrated comics of all time, this issue had a lot to live up to. All the hype and speculation that preceded it, lead to a level of expectation that must have been hard if not impossible to reach. Having said that, I believe the boys at Marvel did a pretty great job. For what its worth, the main story alone definitely validates the cover price, and then some.  The change drastic change in status quo is a big bold move and I'm actually proud that Marvel was inclined to go through with it. I applaud the giant risk and leap forward that they decided to take.

This story is somewhat unprecedented in that for once the villain has his day, and the bad guy takes the cake. It just adds another layer of reality by showing that in the Marvel Universe; the good guys don’t always win. Slott has truly defied the conventions of story telling and risen above them, and by doing so he not only raises the bar, but expands the boundaries of superhero fiction. I applaud his bravery, yet his execution seems questionable.

Before I delve into Slott’s pitfalls and hang-ups, I want to accentuate his strong points.
In writing the iconic character of Doctor Otto Octavius, I believe Slott has found his niche. Through Dan’s writing in this, Doc. is at his finest, most menacing, diabolical and more determined than ever thought possible. In this grand epic a devastating battle is fought between two worthy adversaries and life long rivals.  This is really a tremendous showdown between master and apprentice.  Ock and Pete face off and match each other step for step, blow by blow not just physically but every bit mentally as well. What’s really interesting to me is that Ock is able to predict Peter’s every move and come up with a counter.

On the flip side, there were times it seemed like Slott was trying too hard to parallel the characters. It was confusing to read and believe Peter saying things out of character. It felt at time like Pete was actually becoming Ock and forgetting that he’s not really the super villain. Peter tossing insults and using words outside his normal vocabulary was odd and unbelievable. I didn’t like the fact that Peter is calling Ock “Spidey” even as a tease during their back and forth exchange. I just cannot buy into the idea of Pete ever accepting any1 else as Spider-Man, especially Doc. Ock.  Same goes for Ock accusing Peter of threatening his own loved ones; it just seems silly that they are going so far with this role play and role reversal. The whole idea of, you’re me now and I’m you, seems out of place due to Ock having his own massive ego, and Peter being a highly stubborn ethical man. Slott seems to be just toying with this idea for non plot related entertainment, but I can’t help but feel annoyed by it.

I expected and would have liked to see more thought bubbles from Pete, expressing his mental process, his nervousness, and he trying to stay in character to keep the other villains convinced. There should have been some “What would Ock say?” moments.

However, I did enjoy the scene wherein Peter makes a little visit to heaven, after all this wouldn’t be an anniversary issue if it wasn’t chock full of cameos and reunions. Thankfully some iconic and important characters show up to reunite with Peter. It’s a heart warming moment to see those familiar faces and folks from his past, the very characters that defined his life and the series into the massive success it’s been. Captain Stacy, Gwen, Marla Jameson, Pete’s parents and even good ole Uncle Ben just to name a few, appear to Peter and offer their touching sentiments. Ben Parker has the final word, and in true Uncle Ben fashion, gives his heart felt encouragement, sending Pete back on his adventure for 1 last round in the fight of his life. That’s Peter’s eye of the tiger, nothing pumps him up more than a pep talk from Uncle Ben. It’s almost the very source of his power and greatest strength.  So now you know for sure, Peter is about to give it everything he’s got and then some, and sure enough, he did.
Peter’s plan was tremendous even though his fate was seemingly unavoidable.

I like how Slott gathered the supporting cast together for them to bare witness to this event even though they were ignorant to the role reversal. 

As for the love proclamation from MJ, I smiled reading her feelings towards Pete it was beautifully sincere and everything I would hope from her.

A surprising moment for me came when Ock as Spidey, instinctively lunged out to save Aunt May. To me that says a part of Peter is rubbing off on Ock. The memories are having some profound effect on his psyche and this is a good sign.

The ending although very tragic and beyond heartbreaking I felt was a worthy ending to the series. It did have some what of an uplift knowing that Ock is a changed person and swore to carry on the legacy.  However, this is definitely not a fitting end for our beloved Peter Parker.  He deserves a much kinder, softer send off. A hero’s farewell as he rides off into the sunset to live happily ever after might be a big cliché’ but it’s one of my very favorites, and I believe I can say the same for many others. Peter Parker, you deserved so much better. I If you had closed your eyes and pictured the ending to Peter Parker’s story, I bet it would have been nothing like this, and it seems that’s part of the appeal.

It feels so surreal, even now it’s hard to believe that Peter is really gone and Ock in his place. Something inside your gut wrenches and says this isn’t right; it must be all a hoax. Oh but I’m afraid it’s not. However there remains hope, as Ock relived the entire experience of Peter’s life first hand, every tragedy and every sacrifice to finally understand what makes being Spider-Man so amazing and despite his best effort, he was not able to resist the overwhelming emotional influence it had on him. That’s it, that’s the bottom line and the single greatest message of this story! Peter’s legacy was so great that it alone was enough to overcome death and travel from 1 person to the next. The hero may die but the legacy transcends all.

This is without doubt the single most shocking, and controversial story in the history of Spider-Man, but whether you enjoyed the developments and all the drama or were too appalled by the outcome, you have to admit this was very impactful and emotional story telling, and for that I tilt my hat.

So long Spidey, It’s been an AMAZING ride!


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