I can’t really talk about Amazing Spider-Man #700 without addressing the controversy that surrounds this issue. Unsurprisingly a lot of fans were very upset with how this issue ended and felt like Marvel was using Peter Parker’s death as a shock tactic to boost short-term sales. I personally disagree with that because I feel like Marvel used the opportunity to tell a story that they couldn’t tell with Peter Park as Spider-Man. On the other hand, Superior Spider-Man is ending this month so that does lend credence to the notion that death in comics is little more than a weekend vacation. But enough about the controversial ending, let’s talk about the comic itself.
The Amazing Spider-Man #700 is large book, but the bulk of it is devoted to “Suicide Run” the final chapter in the Dying Wish story arc. This issue deals with the aftermath of Doc Ock’s body switch with Peter Parker and it is handled really well. Dan Slott does a great job of conveying the strangeness of the situation and you really get the sense that both characters are not quite sure what to do with themselves. Doc Ock’s dialogue comes across as a bit villianish even when he is trying to act like Spider-Man and I’m surprised MJ never slapped him for constantly calling her “woman.”
For his part Peter won’t be winning any Oscars either. He does a bit better trying to pull off a desperate and dying Doc Ock, but his insistence on keeping the police alive and some of his decisions do tend to make the other villains question what is going on. But overall I think Slott handles this situation well and it makes for an interesting dynamic, but having read Superior Spider-Man I can say that Doc Ock’s Spider-Man always has a bit of a problem when it comes to villianish dialogue.
I do have to give Slott credit for another thing. He really manages to portray just how bad of a situation this is for Spider-Man. I think that as readers we are so used to the hero coming out on top that it can make it difficult to take the villain’s threats seriously, but in this issue you really get that there is a sense of danger and urgency to the whole thing.
The only major flaw I have with how this story was written was in the pacing. A lot of things seemed to be crammed in at the end and I think he could have spent a few more pages developing things. It just seemed a bit rushed and that’s really a shame considering this is the last we would see of Peter Parker for a while.
One scene I am a bit divided on is the afterlife scene where Peter meets the various friends and families he has lost over the years. I’ll admit it’s a powerful scene and seeing him being accepted by the people he believes he failed to save was a moving moment, but on the other hand the whole concept is a bit of a cliché at this point.
Humberto Ramos’s art has been a sticking point since for awhile now and a lot of your potential enjoyment of this issue will depend on your feelings about Ramos’s work. I think he does a good job of handling action scenes; his art brings a sense of speed and power to the fight scenes that really adds to them. It’s the quieter moments where I think he falls short. The facial expressions of some characters, especially MJ, always seem seems a bit sloppy to me. Even when she is happy MJ always looks like she is upset. It’s something that I’ve noticed throughout Slott’s run. Another big problem is that the general outline of the characters look a bit rough to me. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but the outlines look like they were hastily drawn. I think that is why I like the action scenes more than the quiet moments. The speed of the action scenes help to distract from Ramos’s flaws that are more visible during the quieter moments of the story.
Overall I thought this was a fairly good story and farewell to Peter Parker. I’m still not sure if I agree with Marvel’s decision to replace Peter, but he is coming back at the end of this month so it is a moot point and the overall story is an enjoyable one despite some flaws with the artwork and pacing.
The bulk of this issue dealt with the “Suicide Run” story, but there are two smaller stories included that are worth talking about. The first is “Spider-Dreams” written by J.M. DeMatteis and the art was handled by Giuseppe Camuncoli. It’s a sweet little story about a kid and his grandfather who claims he used to be Spider-Man. It’s an enjoyable read, but take my advice and don’t worry about whether or not this one is cannon.
The second story, “Date Night,” features absolutely adorable art by Stephanie Buscema. I’m not normally a fan of heavily stylized art, but this fits the tone of Jen Van Meter’s story very well. The story itself focuses on Black Cat as she leads the NYPD on a merry chase through the city while Spider-Man deals with a giant robot.