Note- I wrote this before Amazing Spider-Man #700 came out. There’s plenty of discussion about Spider-Ock in later entries.
Almost exactly five years after One More Day, Dan Slott and Marvel plan to kick off a new direction of the Spider-Man series. Amazing Spider-Man will come to an end, at least for now. In its place will be Superior Spider-Man, as part of the Marvel Now! series of rolling relaunches.
So far, we’ve been told that this new Spider-Man is not Peter Parker. Marvel representatives say that the man under the mask is supposed to be a character with some Spider-Man pedigree. And according to Dan Slott, this new guy will be romantically involved with Mary Jane.
There’s a lot we don’t know. We don’t know who the new Spider-Man is. We don’t know what’s going to happen to Peter Parker. And we don’t know how long this story will last. So anyone interested in speculating about the long-term prospects is going to have a difficult time when the short-term developments remain a mystery.
But the inevitable question is whether this is a sensible move in the aftermath of One More Day, and in general. Are they repeating the same mistakes they made earlier? Is it too early for a radical relaunch? Did the arguments in favor of Brand New Day contradict the arguments in favor of the Superior Spider-Man launch?
So far, I’ve enjoyed Dan Slott’s work on the series. I think he has a good sense of the character, and that the status quo of the Big Time era had been worth exploring. Whatever happens with the Superior Spider-Man, it seems to be a story that Slott wants to tell, rather than an editorial mandate. I trust him to consider the long-term implications of the development, even when he announces a project with a radically different status quo than the norm.
Before Superior Spider-Man was announced, there was a lot of speculation about what was going to happen in Amazing Spider-Man #700, including the potential destruction of New York City, Peter Parker’s death or his retirement from the superhero business. My favorite theory was that Peter Parker would choose a new superhero alter ego, allowing someone else to become Spider-Man. It makes sense from a financial standpoint. Marvel gets more material with the best character in comics, in addition to an excuse to launch a new high-profile monthly. However, since Superior Spider-Man will remain a twice monthly title, it seems unlikely that there’s going to be a new Peter Parker book.
Developments in Amazing Spider-Man #695 had some potential, fitting various scenarios. When it became public knowledge that Peter Parker made Spider-Man’s weapons, this could provide an incentive for him to fake his death, especially after Doctor Octopus learns his secret identity. Or it could be the impetus for him to operate openly as a superhero, but just not Spider-Man.
A major reason I’m not bothered by the Superior Spider-Man rumors is that I’m fairly confident that it’s temporary. After 30 or so issues, I suspect that Peter Parker would be back as Spidey. Or if he faked his death, he’ll resume his old identity in dramatic fashion. If this hasn’t happened, I would imagine that it’s something that the writers could establish pretty quickly when the time comes.
But there will likely be some interesting stories before that happens. Just as there were interesting stories with Bucky as Captain America, and with Dick Grayson as Batman. Although the most successful version of that particular storyline may just have been Knightfall, which provided much of the basis for The Dark Knight Rises.
Whatever happens can add to the Spider-Man mythos in a postive way. The new Spider-Man, whoever he is, would have a higher profile, even when Peter Parker takes back the mantle. That’s something that could continue to shake up the series in many different ways.
The alien costume saga is a precedent for how a development can have long-term consequences. While Peter Parker went back to the classic costume soon enough, he still occasionally dons the black and white suit. The primary significance of the storyline was the way it led to the creation of two of Spider-Man’s best villains, one of whom has recently been successful as the lead of a superhero title.
If Peter Parker isn’t the Superior Spider-Man, some readers are likely to be upset about the character hooking up with Mary Jane. Although I don’t mind that. In One Moment in Time, Mary Jane expressed strong reasons for not wanting to date Spider-Man. So that’s something Slott will have to address, although it doesn’t seem too difficult. Mary Jane dating a Spider-Man who isn’t Peter Parker is certainly a story we haven’t seen before, and one that could only be done in the aftermath of One More Day.
There is a lot of short-term potential in Superior Spider-Man. And it can result in some interesting long-term developments. It can fit a commitment to change approach, but it can also be the type of shake-up an Illusion of Change approach requires every now and then.