Before we start let me warn you: the very premise of this series is a spoiler, so if you don’t want the latest Amazing Spider-man twist to be revealed, look away now!
Previously, Doctor Octopus was near death and came up with a dastardly scheme to switch bodies with Peter Parker, letting him die instead. He succeeded and big shocker: despite his best efforts Peter couldn’t stop it, dying in one final fight. Doc Ock finds himself stuck with Peter’s memories and the feelings attached to them, becoming compelled to suit up and fight crime as Spider-man. One who is smarter, stronger, superior!
I was expecting right off the bat to despise this issue, yet found myself pleasantly surprised when it was so well written and that the bizarre premise worked incredibly well. I haven’t always liked Dan Slott’s style but he does write Dr Octopus incredibly well. Otto is unsurprisingly a very different sort of Spider-man. Using gadgets more than brute strength, sarcastic rather than quippy and willing to beat a villain to death to teach criminals a lesson. The first issue centres on a new Sinister Six coming to town and being such a complete disaster that Dr Octopus just has to beat them senseless. It serves as a dynamic introduction to the new series, establishing that he has different motives than Peter and fights in different ways.
The only part of the writing I don’t agree with is his continued dating of Mary Jane. It borders uneasily on a rape-like power-play as she believes she’s dating Peter when she’s not, she’s dating a super villain. If they ever have sex, it’s going to be one of the most controversial issues of the year, so they’re obviously going to do it.
Ryan Stegman creates the best artwork for Spidey that I have seen in years. He skilfully separates the mannerisms of Otto from those of the original Spider-man. His shoulders are stiffer, his gestures more pronounced, his stares just a tad sinister and everything about him just screams: “I’m not Peter Parker!” However, it’s not so exaggerated that you question how no-one is noticing, just yet at least. The action is fantastic, as Peter’s web-slinging looks incredible and completely kinetic.
Slott and Stegman create a great new chapter for Spider-man, one that may in fact prove superior to Slott’s previous work on Amazing Spider-man. The final page reveal establishes that this may not be the status quo for long but I hope Peter isn’t brought back too fast as I’m loving this.