So everyone at least knows who Spider-man is, right? Peter Parker. Bitten by a radioactive spider. Web-slinging superhero. Photographer for the Daily Bugle. The whole works. I find it hard to imagine nowadays how someone would not at least be familiar with Spider-man. After all, aside from the high grossing box office movies in the past decade, the extremely marketable wall crawler has been a staple of the comic industry for the past 50 years. He first appeared in the comic Amazing Fantasy #15, before getting his own comic series The Amazing Spider-man.
Through the years, the series proved itself to be one of Marvel’s most successful comic books. Despite encountering some ludicrous storylines (I’m looking at you, One More Day), The Amazing Spider-man seemed poised to continue its status as the highest-numbered American comic in existence. Well this past December, Marvel did a very bold thing. The Amazing Spider-man published its last issue (#700) with the storyline “Dying Wish“.
In the story, Otto Octavius, or better known as Doctor Octopus to many, pulled off the most outrageous scheme of his criminal career. With his body in life support and his condition worsening, he managed to transfer his consciousness into Spider-man’s body, and the latter into his. Of course, like all super heroes, Spider-man successfully reverses the body switch and puts Doc Ock in his place, right?
Sadly, no. To the shock of many Spider-man fans, not only does Peter Parker fail to get his body back, but he even dies while trapped in Doc Ock’s. However, Peter’s failed attempt to return his consciousness into his own body somehow allowed him to impart all his experiences, his heartbreaks, and his entire moral code into Doc Ock. In short, everything that made Spider-man the great hero he is. Doc Ock, learning that with great power comes great responsibility, promised the dying Peter that he would uphold Spider-man’s legacy of protecting everyone. Satisfied that his powers were no longer in the hands of a psychotic villain, Peter finally dies in Doc Ock’s body.
Doc Ock’s adventures as the new Spider-man is featured on The Superior Spider-man, the new series released by Marvel for their Marvel NOW! relaunch project. The new title references Doc Ock’s belief that with his ambition and intelligence, he would become a superior Spider-man compared to Peter. One of the things that makes the new series such a great read is we get to see how a reformed mad scientist would do things if he was on the side of good. Four issues into the series and Doc Ock does not disappoint.
Rather than waste his time patrolling New York city every day, Doc Ock creates a large number of Spider-bots that act as his eyes and ears, thus enabling him to zero in on criminal activities even more effectively. Under his watch, he apprehends four times the number of criminals on average than Peter. He delivers to them such savage beatings that some criminals, having heard of the new Spider-man’s ruthless stance on crime and fearful of a brutal beatdown, actually surrender peacefully when caught in the act by the wall-crawler.
It’s also fun to see some of Doc Ock’s spot on comments and reactions to Peter’s life choices. Having complete access to Peter’s memories, he was baffled at how Peter put up with the insanities and sacrifices the job required. He described Peter as a man of limited vision, simply jumping blindly from one thing to the next without any plans at all. And his response to learning that because Peter never graduated from college and submitted a thesis, Doc Ock couldn’t use the title “Doctor”? Priceless.
I could list more examples why the series is such a hit, but why not find out for yourself? The Superior Spiderman is published twice a month.
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