Dan Slott told us all that Doc Ock was going to kill Spider-Man, two years in advance. And no one noticed.
Now, I want to make this perfectly clear. I disagree with 98% of the decisions Dan Slott has made in his 10-year tenure on The Amazing Spider-Man. He did things rash. He did them bold. He challenged the status quo of everything I loved. He made me seethe with anger and cry in sadness. I’ve screamed his name and cursed his legacy. I’ve wanted to come face to face with him in the ring for 3 minutes of playtime. I despised Slott, and everything he stood for. But shock me, the man can tell a story. Strap in, because everything is about to come to light, but I have to tell the full story for you to truly grasp this.
Let’s track this from the beginning. I was introduced to Spider-Man through the first Raimi film in 2002. After I saw that movie, I fell in love with the character. I ordered a large book called Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide from a Scholastic book order (remember those kids?) and learned everything I could about Peter Parker, his life, his friends, his foes, everything. I then moved on to TV shows, videos games, and toys. When I was 12, I got a Rhino figure that came with an offer to start getting the series Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man mailed to me, so I sent it off and soon I was getting comics monthly. I am kind of a stickler for chronology, so I never wanted to start reading The Amazing Spider-Man, because how do you jump in on a series that’s been going since 1962 in 2005? I read issues here and there, but never fully committed. Well, I got to college, where there was a comic book store within walking distance, and I saw the front cover to Spider-Island Part 5. That’s when I started reading The Amazing Spider-Man. Y’all know what I’m talking about.
The Amazing Spider-Man #700
One late December evening in 2012, I walked into Pop Culture Comics and paid $8.00 for the big one: The Amazing Spider-Man #700! This was it. The close to Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary and his final battle against longtime foe Doctor Octopus atop Avengers Tower! And he lost. He died. Doc Ock took his body, and became the Superior Spider-Man. I was livid. Hot. Angry! I couldn’t believe it. I posted my rage on Facebook. I stormed around the house in anger. What did I just read??? Marvel was in a tizzy advertising The Superior Spider-Man, and I knew for a fact that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Mephisto’s Realm I was going to pick that up! I convinced myself to read the first few issues, but I made a declaration. That’s when two things happened: I shot myself in the foot, and I realized that Slott and I aren’t so different. Because, and these were my exact words, I said: “The only way I’ll read the Superior Spider-Man is if the Green Goblin comes back and beats the crap out of Otto Octavius!” I reached the end of the fourth issue, and guess what happened. Take a guess who made a surprise ‘post credits’ appearance at the end? The Green mother shocking Goblin. Was I psychic? Did I read Slott’s mind? No, but I consider myself to be a good storyteller, and the fact that he took the route I would have spoke volumes to me.
The Superior Spider-Man
I hate the Superior Spider-Man. I hate it. I hate everything about it. The only good thing to come from that entire year of torture was the costume, and all credit for that belongs to Humberto Ramos. I was honor bound by declaration to finish reading the entire series, but I faltered. I nearly quit. Massacre was one of the Brand New Day guys that didn’t have such a lasting impact. He forced Spider-Man to get new armor and vow that no one dies after killing Jameson’s wife, and he killed longtime Spider-Man character Dr. Kafka. I was sick and tired of him, because he was literally just a guy with a gun giving Spider-Man a hard time. Then, Octavius, in Spider-Man’s body, killed him. Spider-Man took a life. I said I was done. I was not going to pick up another issue.
And I didn’t, for a little bit, but when I went into the comic book shop, I noticed a trivia question on the white board: What issue was Mary Jane’s first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man. #42, I stated, simply attempting to show off my knowledge, but it turned out that I had won a free comic. The next issue of Superior Spider-Man was sitting there, and I figured, hey, if I’m getting back on to this garbage series, Marvel’s not gonna get my money for it! So I nabbed it for free. But it’s like Slott knew. It’s like he was in my head. So he threw me crumb. Now, the Avengers were on to Octavius. He knew I couldn’t resist even the slightest chance of this maniac being stopped! So I had to keep reading! But then Ock eliminated Peter’s lingering spirit, and I got upset all over again! It was an emotional roller coaster, which leads me to the confrontation I had with Slott himself.
Marvel.com published an article, an interview with Dan Slott: Peter Parker Returns in The Amazing Spider-Man #1! I leapt with joy and I celebrated to the high heavens! This was music to my ears! Now, this was back when Marvel.com had a comment section (remember that kids?) and so, in my excitement, I made a comment. Now, I was… younger, and I definitely wasn’t the refined commenter I am now. So, my comment consisted of a poor attempt to retell a Kevin Hart joke where he makes excuses by explaining his bank account, and then I said how dare you mess with my emotions for an entire year! Then, unexpectedly, Slott replied.
Now, I’ll never truly know if it was him, it is the internet after all, and that comment section has long since been deleted, but I really feel like it was. The username seemed legit, and so did his response. He took my Kevin Hart to mean that he was only writing comics for the money. Not my intention, but, I botched the joke and I can see where he was coming from on that. He said that he wrote comics because he loved the characters and he wasn’t doing it for a paycheck. Then he flipped my “how dare you” comment, and said it was the equivalent to stating “How dare you put turns and loops on this roller coaster”. He said a straight roller coaster was no fun, and that’s what kept it exciting. Then he called me rude! Well, he said “If my stories cause emotions that make you react in such a rude manner then I’m glad! That means I’m doing my job!” Something to that effect, again, all of these comments were deleted. I was offended by that, I’ve only been called rude 3 times in my life, this was one of them, another was a customer that was upset she was wrong and I was right, and the last was actually warranted, I was kind of fooling off while a teacher was talking, but still! I didn’t appreciate that. I replied attempting to make my intentions clear, but he never responded, and I’ll never know if he saw it… But that was it! Westbrook v. Slott! Anti-climactic, sure, but I spoke to him! Pretty cool, if you ask me.
This all leads to the big conspiracy. Slott’s deepest darkest secret. I’ve known for years, but I never had the right outlet to get this information to the public… until now! It was in the game, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Months after I’d read Amazing Spider-Man #700, I’m pretty sure it was after Peter had returned. I popped the game in because I like to replay levels, it’s very fun. I played for a while, then started browsing the gallery. The art, the costumes, and the character profiles. Now, for those of you who don’t know, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions had its own female version of Doc Ock from 2099, created specifically for the game. I read her bio, and was shocked at what I found! Here’s what it said:
“Dr. Serena Patel heads Alchemax’s Shadow Division, a section performing the same kind of sick experiments that led Miguel O’Hara to try to leave to company years ago. Human testing, gene splicing, addictive designer drugs- nothing is off limits to Patel. Because of this, she knows her lab is a prime target for the vigilante known as Spider-Man.
Anticipating reprisals from the S-Man’s one-man war on Alchemax, Patel fashioned an assault suit to counter, restrain, and, if necessary, destroy him. To maximize the suit’s effectiveness, she patterned it after the one worn by her idol, Doctor Otto Octavius, who according to historical records, may have possibly destroyed the Heroic Age’s Spider-Man in a climactic final battle.
Patel’s goal as the Doctor Octopus of 2099? For history to repeat itself.”
This can’t be right, I thought. The game came out in 2010, so how were they referencing events that happened in 2012! I went to the game credits, and read carefully until I saw all I needed to see: Story by Dan Slott. He knew! He knew, he had been planning it the entire time, and he told us! He told everyone! He’s an evil genius. The little things he did in each comic that paid off big time later was nothing compared to this! Slott was bold enough to put this point blank in a game, in the bio of a new villain, and no one was any the wiser. Curse you, Dan Slott. Curse you!
Yes, Dan Slott is an evil genius. Yes, he killed Spider-Man and made Doc Ock do treacherous things in his body. I will never forgive him for that. But for all the relative bad, he’s done a solid of good.
Brand New Day
In some respects, I have to give Slott the benefit of the doubt, at least in the beginning. He was dealt a bad hand. After literally having Peter make a deal with Satan, destroying his marriage and concealing his identity from everyone that knew it, Marvel handed the series to Slott and said “Here ya go!” Not how I’d want to walk into writing Amazing Spider-Man. So he made Brand New Day. It’s universally trashed, and no one really likes to talk about it. Heck, Slott himself joked about it in a recent enough issue. But let’s look at the things that stuck: Anti-Venom, Mr. Negative, Big Time Suit, Yuri Watanabe/Wraith, Horizon Labs. And Phil Urich Hobgoblin. I’ll get to him. I even used the title Brand New Day to relaunch my blog after a lull period. It wasn’t perfect, but that’s the thing about Slott. As we’ve established, he creates things now, plants seeds, and then when we’ve all forgotten about it, he digs them up later. He’s a long-term story teller, and as a fellow seed-planting long-term guy myself, I can respect that about him.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions revealed more of Slott’s schemes, but not in such a direct way. I believe that it was a testing ground for two things, and one of them was Spider-Man 2099. Miguel O’Hara hadn’t been seen or heard from for years. But when Shattered Dimensions came out, there was a surge in Spider-Man 2099 popularity. All of a sudden, Spider-Man: Edge of Time came out featuring a Spidey 2099 story straight from Peter David himself. Then O’Hara showed back up in comics, in Superior Spider-Man, and eventually his own comic was relaunched. With David back at the helm! Slott brought back the year 2099, and by consequence, brought my favorite author, Peter David, back into the fold.
The second thing Shattered Dimensions was a testing ground for was the Spider-Verse. And boy, did that work. People were intrigued by the notion of several Spider-Men, united against a common foe. So what did Slott do? He got every Spider-Man ever made and created the Spider-Verse. Spider-Gwen spawned from this, all of the Silk seeds that were planted payed off, Superior Octopus seeds were planted, Kaine got a moment to shine. Spider-Punk, Ham, Noir, Miles, 2099, digging up Morlun from the freaking 90’s! And the Spider-Verse has only grown, giving us an untold number of alternate costumes for games and toys, the Spider-Man Unlimited mobile game, and now a feature film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The Spider-Verse was a stroke of genius, and arguably Marvel’s most successful arc in years. All due to Slott.
Amazing Spider-Man #797
So I chose to write this before reading Amazing Spider-Man #800. It’s the end of Slott’s run, and I want to say everything I have to now. But I have to comment on Amazing Spider-Man #797, because Slott made me so happy. One More Day destroyed three things for me. 1.) Spider-Man and Mary Jane, a relationship I am a major shipper for, which, if you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know. 2.) The Green Goblin’s greatest weapon, his knowledge of Peter’s secret identity. It was the one thing that set him apart, and made him Spider-Man’s worst enemy. And 3.) The Hobgoblin. More of a Brand New Day creation, but Phil Urich caused a whole lot of damage and for some reason or another, Spider-Man could never stop him! He and Massacre were two villains I’d had more than enough of.
And, as if Slott’s heard me, as if he knew, in one issue, he fixed all three. Peter and Mary Jane kissed, and while they did not get back together, it’s the start of something that could be! Goblin finally remembered Peter’s identity! Finally! And Phil Urich died! At the hands of Norman Osborn! He’s in my head, I tell you! What are the odds that the ONLY three things that have been consistently bothering me about The Amazing Spider-Man for years were all rectified in one issue? Like I said, I think we’re more similar than I’d like to admit.
The End (Of an Era)
So, there it is. Dan Slott has jerked me left and right on his metaphorical roller coaster. And yes, it was definitely a bumpy ride, but in the end, when it came down to it, I appreciate everything he’s done. I didn’t always agree. I fumed with anger and shouted with rage. But my hat’s off to you, Mr. Slott. You kept me guessing, you made me think. You challenged everything I know, and while I may not be your biggest fan, you will always have my highest respect. If we meet one day, when I hopefully get a job at Marvel, I can only pray that we get a chance to work together. Because we’re the same, you and me. And I’d love for you to get a chance to see that. I could talk for hours about the nuances and seeds and stories of Dan Slott, but I'll leave that for later. For now, let's see what you do in Marvel's Spider-Man PS4, and when you finally bring the Fantastic 4 home! Face Front Dan Slott, you deserve it.
PS. I really hope you still don’t think I’m rude!