Ok, I gave you fair warning. If you haven’t read this arc and plan to, or haven’t finished it yet, don’t read any further because I’m going to give away some events from the story. They are events I believe are key to what makes this arc one of the best deviations that I’ve read in a comic series. Before I get into the meat of it let me just qualify my statement a bit. I generally don’t like story arcs that deviate from the main story of the character unless they are done in completely separate issues that I can either filter out or ignore. I’m tired of reboots, renumberings, clones, resurrections, and the like. When a character dies you know they are coming back, usually at a time when the line, or the company needs a boost in cash. Frankly I’m surprised Jean Gray has been gone as long as she has this time around. Nightcrawler’s back (see Amazing X-Men) after a short ‘death’ but they haven’t left our Jeanie down this long without a clone, etc. Granted she’s back from the past (see All New X-Men), but the original Marvel Girl has been dead now for quite some time. Probably a good thing because she’d probably have pimp-slapped Scott’s emo ass long before the Avengers Vs. X-men run and Xavier would still be alive. Enough spoilers for you yet? Yah I haven’t even gotten into the Spider-Man run.
Anyway, when Amazing was nearing the end of its run, and Doc Ock was on his death-bed, planning his ultimate escape I thought, “Here we go again, another lame deviant story arc to sell issues before they renumber Amazing Spider-Man…again…” So I went into this already bitter, but was quickly surprised by the great art and writing going on with this arc. It begins with Ock’s plan to save himself, by transferring his mind into the body of Peter Parker, and vice versa. Very evil plan, but the real Doctor Octopus starts to come to light. We got to see a lot, through Peter’s eyes, about Doctor Octopus, as they both shared the same ‘mindscape’ after the Doctor’s body dies. Peter sees that Doc Ock was an abused and bullied kid that turned out the way he did because of his experiences. I’m not sure if Peter already knew all of this about his long-time enemy, but it certainly showed us how the two characters are mirrors of each other. Both geniuses that were bullied, and harassed. One was loved by family and friends, mentored, and cared for while the other was abused by his father, put down by those who felt inferior, and bullied by his peers. If things had been different for Peter he might have become the same villain he fought all those years.
For Doc Ock’s part, he saw what made Peter into Spider-Man, sharing the memories and experiences that Peter had. He also saw what he thought were flaws in Spider-Man that made him less effective than he could be. Ock, in the form of Peter Parker, believes that he can be better, become the Superior Spider-Man that Peter never could. The arc takes place during the rise of the Goblin cult, and the battle between Hobgoblin, Green Goblin, and pretenders to the name. Through the course of it Spider-Man’s friends (and Peter’s in the case of those that don’t know the two are the same) see that something is different. They slowly come to realize that Peter is either not the same person, or was changing drastically against character. In the mix is an interesting love story between Peter and his tutor, that shows Ock’s sympathy to others who are looked down upon.
In the end Ock realizes that to save his (Peter’s) friends, family, and new girl friend he had to give the body back to Peter. That his choices, and his path to become superior had neglected the fact that it was Peter’s experiences that made him the real hero and ultimately what was needed to save everyone. In the end the two enemies (and we) come out of the story with a greater understanding of the two characters involved. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and look forward to reading the future issues with Peter, back in his own body, trying to clean up the mess left behind by the imposter. This is a great arc, and a reader could jump right into it without having read much of Amazing Spider-Man before it. With it’s coming conclusion, we will see Amazing back with issue number 1 (again) and I’m looking forward to it.