It’s 6:50 am on April 17th 2014. Just 20 minutes ago, I finished issue 31 of Superior Spider-man and I can’t say that I have been happier to see a series close. And it’s not what you would expect. It’s not that it was a bad series or anything it’s just that this has reinforced in my mind that Dan Slott was the right man for the job of writing Spider-man.
Let me take a bit of a sidebar:
As any kid coming up in the 70’s reading comics, one of my favorite comic characters was of course Spider-man and we all know the classic struggle of Peter Parker, balancing his life being who he was so I won’t belabor that point. In the 80’s his life took a change when he came back from the Secret Wars with the black suit but at that time, the story that stuck out to me the most was Kraven’s Last Hunt. It affected me because you have to imagine what it had to be like for Peter to be dead and someone taking over Spider-man and trying to do it better. That was probably one of the last Spider comics I read before I gave up comics in the 90s. When I came back into comics around 2008 or so, I remember the big hoopla regarding One More Day and how a lot of readers had pretty much given up on Spider-man because too much had been changed especially with the aftermath of Civil War. I was really reluctant to pick up any Spider-man books and grabbed a few here and there. I really didn’t discover Dan Slott until I grabbed New Ways to Die. I really enjoyed the first few issues as to me Slott brought to me, the Spider-man that I could relate to; even when he ‘won’ he still lost something and to me, that was a part of the essence of Peter Parker / Spider-man. I remember meeting Mr. Slott in Baltimore back in 08 and the funny thing that I remember was that while everyone was breaking their necks trying to meet Brian Michael Bendis, Dan was a lil’ ways around the corner and 2 the right and off at a quiet table. I managed to have a few minutes to talk to him and one of the things I told him before I left was thanks for bringing about the Peter Parker that I enjoy and I bet that the next time we meet; I won’t have this kind of time. And then, Amazing Spider-man 700 happened.
Fast Forward a few years…
If you thought what happened in OMD was a doozy, then the last issue of ASM was crazy. There was anarchy, dinosaurs, government collapses, gobli—…no wait none of that really happened, but in real life the crapstorm of geekdom lost their collective shit when the switch of Peter and Otto took place. To be honest, at the time, I didn’t know how to feel myself but with everything Dan had done to build Peter up only to have his life crash, I had faith that he would do right, but I think many of us long time Spider-man fans were afraid. I think for many of us, change is difficult and many of us were always so happy to see Peter overcome the odds but how was he going to overcome this? Better yet, the question was how could Slott write this without it being a cheesy villain takes over hero and then takes over the world and leave the collective readership eye-rolling him in the process?
As much as I wanted off of the ride like many of my other friends, I stayed on. And I am so glad that I did. For those of you that got off, you missed so much. Reading the storyline, I empathized so much with who Otto was, who wasn’t too far removed from Peter. To me, as the books when on, it was a master stroke of what kind of story this would be and how Otto in the process of fixing Peter’s life would screw it up so royally. I think about 8 or 9 issues in, when it really settled that Peter wasn’t coming back ‘soon’ (hey a lot of us doubters didn’t see this going past 6 issues, real talk) it occurred to me that while others saw this book going against everything that was Peter Parker, some of us saw this as the perfect struggle for Peter to be in and many wondered ‘how so?’ and my answer was this, you have to look at the long game. Something is going to happen and when Peter comes back, he will have an entire life to clean up as well as a few others and THAT in the essence is Peter Parker, no matter how hard he tries, something happens that he is responsible for that he must take care of. So as the series continued, all I looked forward to was how it could all come down and how Parker would have to reconcile with the fact that no one else but he would be responsible for fixing it. I will say it again, for those of you that missed this, you missed something…spectacular.
Otto, even won me over in a sense as he took a look at Parker’s life and said, “You know what? I don’t know how you beat me with your life a mess as it was but let me fix it.” So truth be told, because of a good writer at the helm, I ROOTED for Otto because there was a slight chance that he could redeem himself and come on, let’s give credit, Otto TRIED!!!! And when things fell down, Otto realized that it wasn’t just about changing the exterior, it was about being a good person within that kept Peter being Peter, he stepped aside and let Peter do his thing…albeit at a damnable time. So some of you will have to excuse me if I am bit sad at Doc Ock’s departure (although we know he too eventually may return) because he really showed that he had some heart although some of his efforts were a bit misplaced.
So now, the chapter of this storyline closes, I get to see what I wanted to see. Peter is back and now is life is probably more of a mess than what it was when he left. MJ (once again) is trying to separate herself from Peter, Carlie’s life is a mess too, There is no telling how Peter is going to handle the fact that he has a doctorate that he didn’t earn, his business failed and more importantly, how is he going to go about reconciling what Otto had with Anna Marie? These are the kinds of things that happen with a great writer at the helm. To me, this was probably the best Marvel event that has come along in a long while not billed as a Marvel event. Dan Slott did with this story what Kraven’s Last Hunt did for me all those years ago. He turned Peter Parker’s life upside down with someone else at the helm doing it and left him holding the bag with his job to fix the mess that he made and we as the reader get to see how this all turns out and I for one can’t wait.
Oh yeah, by the way, I met Slott again at last year’s New York Comic Con. The line was long and I waited an hour and a half and it was well worth it. Dan, thanks so much for doing with my favorite character what so few in the industry has done. You managed to give, take away and make us think that if you persevere, you can outlast what life throws at you. To me, that’s what Spider-man has always been about. I can’t wait to see what else comes of his story with you at the helm.
Harry Crosland – The Next Issue Podcast