What really gets me isn’t that Doc Ock is able to piece together Spider-Man’s identity—to be honest, I’m not sure how a lot of people haven’t figured it out by now (not counting the time he revealed himself to the world as part of the "Civil War" storyline)—but rather Ock’s way of going around Spider-Man to end him. Swapping brains is so clichéd and old school; it’s been done by so many different genres and titles in various forms of medium that I’m surprised it wasn’t done to Spider-Man beforehand. Granted, the way that he was able to do it in secret without anyone realizing it was truly fascinating, and the fact that both still retain memories of each other’s lives as a way to keep living was interesting, but it wasn’t what it could have been. Doc Ock might not be the chief villain in our hero’s life, but he’s pretty darn close to it.
The way Peter Parker “dies” is what really brings it down for me as a fan of Spider-Man. Here we have one of the greatest superheroes in the world, finally being recognized by Jameson for his courage, being looked upon by important, influential people like the geeks at Horizon Labs, and he’s reduced to being blotted out because of Doc Ock’s mind-swapping machinations? And, in the end, as sort of a final “ha-ha!” against Ock, Peter makes it so the villain in his body feels a sense of responsibility and understanding, instilling in him the need to actually become Spider-Man rather than just imitate him. Ock, with his normal superiority complex, thinks that he can also do the job better than what Peter was able to accomplish, creating a “Superior Spider-Man” for the world to see and admire. And, it may be that he can do so, from a technological and scientific standpoint, but I highly doubt that he’ll ever be able to muster the true sense of personal responsibility that Peter was able to accomplish.
So, here we are, with Peter Parker “dead” and one of the most notorious villains in his rogue’s gallery running around with his life; I am not sure about you, but I don’t know what to think of that situation, other than it really is a downer. I was very sad when Ultimate Spider-Man died, but at least he died in a way befitting the legend that he was—saving Captain America’s life, going against the Green Goblin and his retinue of ultimate baddies in a pitched battle to ensure that the lives of the innocent were protected. But here, here is a situation in which Peter isn’t given that kind of send-off, that kind of well-deserved glory that befits a hero of his stature. No, here we see him whimper away in an attempt to make the person who killed him a better man, because he can’t get back into his own body. Add to it the fact that once again he and Mary Jane are professing their love for one another, and you have to wonder why they were ever written out of one another’s lives to begin with—why rewrite history if you’re just going to repeat it, Marvel?
Superior Spider-Man just started not long ago, following the conclusion of last month’s ASM and Avenging Spider-Man issues, and with it begins a new dawn in the history of what was the greatest superhero in the world, the iconic figure of geeks and nerds from the 1960s to the present, but will it—can it—still be considered such a standing when the real man inside the body is nothing but an egotistical mad scientist who feels he can do things better? I’m not sure how much of the “new” Spider-Man I’ll enjoy, or how much of it will sour me to the rest of the Marvel universe, but I will hope that Marvel does one thing right in that if they decide to bring Peter Parker back to life (again), that they won’t do it in such a convoluted, half-done way so as to make me like his return worse than his demise.
You’re being called to the carpet, Marvel; do this series right, bring me back into the fold of liking Spider-Man, and don’t frell it up, or else you’re going to end up alienating someone who has come to love reading your comic books the last few years.
This has been brought to you by the “Save Spidey’s Soul” foundation.