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December 26, 2012

‘Amazing Spider-Man’: Dan Slott talks Peter Parker’s fate

Posted in: Comics

Peter Parker’s never had the best of luck — last year, the little he had finally ran out when Brian Michael Bendis placed Peter on the losing end of a confrontation with the Green Goblin at the conclusion of the Death of Spider-Man story from Marvel’s Ultimate Comics.

But with the final issue of “Amazing Spider-Man,” which arrives today, Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos have crafted a different and even more controversial end for Peter, not to mention a rather unexpected new beginning for his web-slinging superhero alter-ego.

(The spoiler-averse should stop reading now.)

The issue that brings the landmark comic book to a close sees Peter die once more in a turn of events that leaves his nemesis Otto Octavius wearing the costume — and carrying Peter’s own memories and experiences, too.

It’ll be Octavius in the signature suit when “Superior Spider-Man” No. 1 arrives in January.

Needless to say, fan reaction to the dramatic — some critics might call it cruel — twist has been intense since word of it first leaked online. Still coming to terms with the controversy, Slott recently took time to answer a few questions about the artistic choices he made for “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 700 and what it was like to write a bittersweet ending for his lifelong hero, a character that celebrates his 50th anniversary this year.

A panel from the first Spider-Man story. (Marvel Comics)

A panel from the first Spider-Man story. (Marvel Comics)

HC: You had said that you had planned to go into hiding when the issue came out.

DS: Yes. My exact phrase was, “I’m pulling a Salman Rushdie.” Peter Parker means a lot to people. Not just comic book fans, but fans of the movies, cartoons, toys and even the Thanksgiving Day balloon. He’s been with us for over half a century. And this version of Peter Parker is the one who was there at the very beginning. This the same Spider-Man from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15. This is huge.

HC: How long have you known the story would conclude in this way?

DS: We started sowing the seeds for this story literally a hundred issues ago, and, through different story arcs over the past two years, we’ve been leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the readers. It wasn’t till two issues ago that we started springing the trap.

HC: What made it the right ending for Peter Parker?

DS: He’s not Superman. Spider-Man doesn’t always win. He’s us. We do our best, but sometimes we fall short. What makes him heroic is that he stays on the right path. There’s a victory in this story for Peter if you’re willing to see it. Any superhero can look heroic in the winner’s circle, when they’re adored and showered with praise. But when you’re in a losing battle, when the world’s against you, when everyone thinks you’re a menace, but you do the right thing anyway … that’s when you’re better than a superhero. That’s when you’re Peter Parker.
Ultimate Spider-Man #160

Peter Parker died in “Ultimate Spider-Man” #160 (Marvel)

HC: You’ve been an “Amazing Spider-Man” fan for years. Was there any part of you that found this tale difficult or bittersweet to write?
DS: Absolutely. Since the start of my run, I’ve gone pretty easy on the guy. I gave him his dream job. Had him lead the Avengers into battle and save the world. It was tough to do this. I’ve been a Spider-Man fan since age 8. Short of my father, this guy’s been my lifelong hero.

HC: Do you think it’s fair to describe what happens as dispiriting? It just seems like a last unlucky break for Peter.

DS: He’s facing certain defeat. He’s promised his father-figure, Uncle Ben, that he wouldn’t leave a man like Otto Octavius running around as Spider-Man. And, in a last ditch plan, he uses his remaining seconds of life to find a way to be true to that promise. What looks like his trademark “Parker Luck” is actually a testament to his spirit.
HC: Are fans likely to embrace a darker incarnation of Spidey when “Superior Spider-Man” begins its run next month?
DS: I think after “Superior Spider-Man” No. 1, they’ll be more than ready. We still have one more trick up our sleeve.

— Gina McIntyre

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