After years of trying (unsuccessfully) to enjoy Dan Slott's work on Spider-Man, I decided to give it another chance a couple of years ago. The "earth shattering" changes that were being touted by Marvel, Slott and most media outlets was too much marketing to resist, so I bit.
In the final days of The Amazing Spider-Man, I rejoined Slott's march toward the finish line of a series that had been a staple of my life for over 30 years. Skeptical as I was going in, Slott not only surprised me, but he managed to so something almost unheard of in comic books, he shocked the world.
In a fandom that rolls our eyes at character "deaths", yawns at crippling loss of limbs and pretty much takes all advertised "huge changes" as just par for the superhero course, Dan Slott did something that I can't remember anyone else doing. He allowed a long-time arch nemesis, one of the biggest villains a hero had ever faced, to not only win, to not only essentially kill an A-list hero, but he figured out an ingenious way of supplanting Peter Parker, one of the most beloved superheroes of all-time, with Doctor Octopus. A villain who always took a back seat to others that were more flashy, more sinister or just more marketable, had not only triumphed, he had triumphed beyond what anyone could have imagined. It's hard to shock the world of comic book readers, but Dan Slott did, and he won my heart with that move.
Jump forward 15 months to now. Superior Spider-Man has consistently been one of the most engaging, infuriating and interesting titles on the rack. Two times a month this book has battled for top-of-the-pile supremacy, along with a wonderful supporting cast of titles in Superior Foes of Spider-Man (sleeper superhero book of the year) and Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. That is an impressive body of work by almost anyone's standards.
In this issue it all finally comes to a head, and I did not have the foresight to see how this was shaping up until I turned the page and it was upon me. At long last, Peter Parker is back, but it wasn't a battle he won by wit or by force, it was a battle conceded by Otto Octavius, born out of love, compassion and a heroic sacrifice. If what we just witnessed was the death of Doctor Octopus, it may very well be the most noble, beautiful and genius death of a villain we have ever seen in a comic book.
The breadth of this story, years in the making, is staggering. The fact that Slott has been able to weave this story so deftly for so long is nothing short of genius. The destruction of one man's history, and the building of another's, only to end it by sealing them forever together through thought, action and deed is beautiful. It is intelligent beyond my capacity, and I have more respect for Dan Slott as a story teller than I could have ever imagined.
This has been one of my favorite years of Spider-Man comics in decades, and I am sad to see it end. At the same time though, there is so much promise going forward now, so many stories to return to, loose ends to tie up and new battles to be fought, particularly in Peter's personal life, I am going forward in to Amazing Spider-Man with a renewed sense of vigor for this character, and a well-deserved reverence for Dan Slott as a story teller.
The future of the Spider-Man titles excites me more than it has in a long time, and I am overwhelmed with joy to be back here with a character that hasn't meant this much to me in a long time.
Thank you Dan Slott, for this past year-and-a-half of Spider-Man, and for what the future holds as well.
P.S. - There's a whole freaking second comic included with this issue, Black Widow #1! I didn't like it much, but the Phil Noto art is top-notch, as usual.