Review: Amazing Spider-Man #699 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

I’ve not been a reader of the Dan Slott era of Spider-Man, but not for any particular reason. The reviews were always decent enough, but though I like Spider-Man enough, there was never enough about the character to pull me in. Usually earmarking the series as something I would read in trades, maybe some Ebay lot where I could get a bunch of trades for cheap. But, after last issue’s revelation about Doctor Octopus switching minds with Peter Parker, it seemed like fun for a non-Spider-Man reader like me to review the book.

Obviously, Slott is trying to get some new readers onto the book, as well as gain some momentum for the debut of the new title, Superior Spider-Man. So let’s see if issue #699, which is the sandwich issue between the revelation from last issue and the big 700 anniversary issue. Sometimes sandwich issues are good, and other times they are all set-up and filler before the big issue.

The Amazing Spider-Man #699: Dying Wish: Outside the Box

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Release Date: 12/05/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

Now, I have not been reading Spider-Man, as I stated earlier. But keeping my ear to the ground, I understand the following to be true:

Earlier this year, Doctor Octopus was given a few months to live due to his damage from years of battles with super-heroes, specifically Spider-man. During his final months, he attempted to conquer the Earth using the newest version of the Sinister Six. Octopus was eventually captured and placed on The Raft to live out his days. In the last issue, it turns out the Octopus had transferred his brain with Peter Parker’s and was living his life as Spider-Man.     

Synopsis

The story is told all from Peter Parker’s perspective, trapped in Doctor Octopus’s body, which is in turn trapped in an iron lung in the super-villain prison known as The Raft.

  • Octopus’s body is dying, and Peter is panicking trying to figure out how it was done.
  • Peter realizes that he has access to Doctor Octopus’s memories. Peter realizes that when he used Otto’s control helmet to control the Octobots, it allowed Octopus to map Peter’s brain waves. And then used a brain swapping Octobot to take over Peter’s brain.
  • Peter is able to use the same mind powers to contact the same Octobot to contact super-villains. Hydro-Man, Scorpion, and Trapster, to help break him out of prison. He then sends them out to capture Spider-Man.

Analysis

This is the best issue of any comic I’ve read in a long time where little to nothing happened. Half of the comic was summing up the current Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus conflict that has permeated the Spider-Man comic universe for the last year, and the other half was setting up the next issue where it all comes to a head.

Normally, these are useful but rather boring issues. This worked so well, I’m astounded. Everything, from Peter thinking of the horrible things that Octopus would be doing as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, to the reaction of The Raft doctors keeping the body of Octopus alive, to Peter figuring out how Octopus did it, to him realizing how he let Octopus into his mind, and his embarrassment at being rescued by Paste Pot Pete. This worked really well.

Plus, the funniest scene I’ve seen in ages is Peter going through Otto’s memory and then trying to ignore the memory of Aunt May and Otto potentially having sex. Too funny. But, does Aunt May really need to look frail and on death’s doorstep all the time? I do think the Ultimate universe has a better 2000s take on her than the mainstay Marvel universe.

I was a little curious about the conversation between Peter and The Lizard. Wasn’t sure if it was just an illustration of conversation between super-villains, or it this is a piece of the puzzle for the next issue. I really hope that this isn’t just background information for the Spider-Man universe going forward.

Another interesting fact was the idea of The Trapster, Hydro-Man, and the Scorpion (who knows which one at this point in time) all begging to be part of a new Sinister Six.

The art was certainly well done. Ramos does a nice job combining a modern sense of comics with a classic Spider-Man look. I think the design of Doctor Octopus’s failing body is really strange, but it’s an interesting choice.

The only main issue is that I was surprised when I got to the last page, surprised that the issue was over already. It felt like the story was just getting going, right when it ended. That’s what happens with ‘sandwich’ issues like this. You give so much time to information that there are not enough pages to allow stuff to happen. A very minor complain, especially as these issues are coming bi-weekly (I believe).

All in all, it’s a very good book. I may not pick up issue #700, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the story (just budget issues, and the solid chance that Marvel will leak the story to the press before anyone can purchase it.

Verdict

I figured that Dan Slott was writing a good Spider-Man book baked on the buzz, but this was even better than I expected. A really enjoyable issue and I don’t really remember enjoying a Spider-Man issue as much as this one. Lots of fun, and I’m mildly intrigued as to where it goes next. Bravo.

Overall Grade: 9.0 (More fun than I expected)

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