(USA TODAY) -- After 50 years of Peter Parker as Spider-Man,his archest of nemeses is taking over as Marvel Comics' most iconic superhero.
Out today, the landmark Amazing Spider-Man No.
700 features a final battle between the mind-swapped Parker and Dr.
Otto Octavius - aka the evil Doctor Octopus - resulting in the hero
suffering a possibly permanent defeat and Doc Ock standing victorious in
the mind and body of Spider-Man.
But after defeating his former
enemy in his own old, withering and dying body, Doc Ock isn't going to
take Spidey on a quest for world domination. Instead, he learns that
with great power comes great responsibility - something Parker's Uncle
Ben taught him in 1962's Amazing Fantasy issue 15 - and begins a new era for the character in the pages of Superior Spider-Man. It launches Jan. 9 as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative.
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," says writer Dan Slott, who moves from Amazing to Superior Spider-Man with rotating artists Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos and Giuseppe Camuncoli.
Slott began planting the seeds for this change in status quo back in Amazing
issue 600, where it was revealed that Doctor Octopus had only a year to
live after so many battles with the web-spinning do-gooder.
his master plan achieved, Doc Ock is left to pose as Parker in the world
of Spider-Man, interacting with folks like Peter's Aunt May and love
interest Mary Jane Watson and doing battle with his old pals in the new
Sinister Six, such as the Vulture.
Change is coming not only to the hero but also to the book's tone, says Superior editor Stephen Wacker. "We want to do Spider-Man by way of Batman - a little creepier and darker."
One essential aspect of Amazing Spider-Man 700 that leads into
the new book is Doc Ock having a Scrooge-esque moment when he realizes
what Peter Parker's life has been like, from the deaths of people close
to him to the struggles he's had living the life of a hero, and what
kind of man he has to be going 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. We see a more
sympathetic side of Doctor Octopus," Wacker says. "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."
Adds Slott: "This
is a guy who was a couple steps way from a bucket list, and now he's got
a whole new lease on life. That's really going to change him."
Ock will falter at times in his performance as Peter Parker, and he'll
have to get out of the way of his own huge ego and villainous tendencies
to reach his goal of being the superior Spider-Man.
It's definitely a different sort of hero's journey than comic fans are used to seeing.
Parker was selfish and horrible for all of part of one story. From then
on, we've seen him be a hero," Slott says, referring to Spidey's
origin. Doctor Octopus, though, "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."
Fans don't have to wait long to see what happens next - Wacker hid an augmented-reality execution on a page of Amazing 700 where readers can find out the opening plot of Superior Spider-Man using the Marvel AR app on their smartphones or tablets.
far, Slott says he has enjoyed writing Doc Ock to be younger than
before. "Doc is kinda like me: He's short and schlubby. This is a guy
who now gets to be in the body of Peter Parker. This opens up whole new
Yet it also opens the floodgates of criticism from fans
on the Internet and social media about not wanting a Spider-Man book
without Peter Parker.
From Parker's first appearance in the 1960s,
the teen science nerd had to live with grief from kids at school. And
when he put on the Spidey mask and thwipped through New York City, the
public at large considered him a punk and a menace.
"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
"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