What comes after Superior Spider-Man?

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Whenever a major comic book character is killed off, it is not uncommon for there to be several escape doors. In some cases, the writer leaves those for their successors. In other cases, the writer plans to use it himself. And sometimes it’s both. When Tom Defalco killed off Reed Richards and Doctor Doom during his run on Fantastic Four, he intended to provide other writers a way to undo his development, not expecting that he would be the one to use it in response to fan outcry.

It wasn’t the first time Doctor Doom was killed. Earlier, I noted the similarities between Amazing Spider-Man #698 and John Byrne’s Day in the Life of Doctor Doom issue of Fantastic Four. That story ended with what seemed to be the death of the Fantastic Four’s archenemy. Except Byrne seeded the return of Doom, with the help of an Aunt May cameo.

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So it wouldn’t surprise me if something similar happens in the conclusion of a Spider-Man story already influenced by that arc.

The process that implanted more of Spider-Man’s personality into Doc Ock could have also saved Spider-Man’s mind. This type of thing has happened in sci-fi series before. So you may have Peter Parker slowly regaining control. It would raise some Clone Saga-esque questions about whether this is the real Spider-Man.

Spider-Man’s memories were beamed into Doc Ock before Peter realized that Otto has the potential to be a good guy.  So you could have dramatic irony with Spider-Man regaining control of his body at the worst possible moment, convinced that his top priority is stopping Doc Ock, unaware that he’s hindering his former enemy’s attempts to do some good.

Afterwards, Peter Parker might have to deal with the consequences of whatever his greatest enemy did while in his body. That could be interesting. During the Big Time era, everyone in the Marvel Universe trusted Spider-Man. Even J Jonah Jameson changed his mind about the wall-crawler. One thing that made Spider-Man different from most superheroes was that he wasn’t trusted, and that he wasn’t understood. So Superior Spider-Man could ultimately be a way to shove that genie back into the magic lamp.

It’s been a trope of the Spider-Man comics that his duties as a superhero meant that Peter Parker couldn’t explain his lapses to his loved ones, even if he had a perfect justification had they just known. This could be a more extreme version of that. Instead of Peter being late for class because Spider-Man was fighting the Rhino or abandoning a cute girl because the Human Torch left a message in the sky, he may be sued by Horizon Labs for intellectual property theft, or estranged from Harry Osborn because of something that Doc Ock said. He may have to repair his relationships with family and friends. Mary Jane might also not be speaking with him for some time if Doc Ock’s able to take advantage of her, even if it’s not in the most obvious way.

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The Avengers might not trust him, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing considering how long Spider-Man has been a part of that team, and been able to use his connections on the book as a crutch. Maybe it’s time for a change. Avenging Spider-Man could even continue if Spidey’s no longer on any of the teams, considering the sheer number of superheroes currently on one of the Avengers groups. The series could also have a new direction for a few years as Spider-Man makes a conscious effort to repair his relationships with his former allies, one Avenger at a time.

After the Superior Spider-Man era, there will probably be a new direction for the series, as there was after the Back in Black era, the Clone Saga, the Brand New Day era or any period of the Spider-Man comics that seems to have a logical endpoint. Doctor Octopus’s future is a tad less secure.

The Infinite Spider-Man is a series of mini-essays regarding Marvel’s options for the future of the best character in comics.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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