SPOILER WARNING: This story contains plot spoilers for "Amazing Spider-Man" #700.
For those who managed to avoid the online spoilers for "Amazing Spider-Man" #700 posted earlier in December, the ending of the long-running Marvel Comics series written by Dan Slott no doubt came as a surprise to readers as, by the end of the issue, Doctor Otto Octavius takes on the mantle of Spider-Man in the body of Peter Parker, learning that with great power must come great responsibility.
"This is Moriarty in the head of Sherlock. This is Prince John inside of Robin Hood. This is the greatest villain inside the body of the greatest hero and trying to do good," Slott told USA Today. "Peter Parker was selfish and horrible for all of part of one story. From then on, we've seen him be a hero. [Doctor Octopus] has a lot to overcome, and on some level, that road of salvation and stepping up and doing the right thing, it's more interesting to see it from a character who has to fight his basic nature to do that."
"Amazing" #700 not only serves as a definitive ending to the series, but as a lead-in to January's Marvel NOW! series "Superior Spider-Man" written by Slott with rotating art by Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos and Giuseppe Camuncoli. According to series editor Steve Wacker, the struggle of Otto Octavius is a key piece of the series moving forward.
"It's also what the good part of our first year of Superior is about: Doc behaving in a manner he's not accustomed to," said Wacker. "We see a more sympathetic side of Doctor Octopus. We couldn't have a Spider-Man who was running around murdering people. And I have no interest in seeing that sort of character win."
It's a huge change for Spider-Man, and with the fate of Peter Parker completely uncertain, there's no telling whether the character will be back any time soon -- something that has sparked some incredibly negative responses among readers -- but Slott says that even the reaction is a part of the book.
"He had to be a hero in his own eyes, and on some level Otto Octavius is facing that struggle not with Spider-Man's world but with the readership," Slott said. "How do you get more Peter Parker than that? Now the readers think he's a menace. That's exciting. On a meta level, that is Spider-Man."
"Superior Spider-Man" #1 hits in January