Friday, February 8, 2013

'The Superior Spider-Man'?

From The Associated Press

     Spider-Man, or at least his Peter Parker identity, just cant get a break.
      According to an AP report, Parkers mind has been switched from his own body to that of his arch-enemy Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus or Doc Ock for short. Octavius mind has likewise shifted to Parkers body.

     Anyone who has seen the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films knows that Parker has long lived with the guilty knowledge that he could have prevented the murder of his father figure, Uncle Ben, when he declined to help stop Bens future killer, then being chased by a policeman. “Hey, it’s not my job,” he said, or some such remark (at the time he was planning to use his Spider-Man abilities only for show biz fame and fortune).
     In the comic book, he faced further guilt. He almost killed his Aunt May by giving her a transfusion of his irradiated blood (well, he couldnt tell the surgeon, I cant donate blood to save the life of the woman whos been like a mother to me because I was bitten by a radioactive spider). Later, he (temporarily) grew an extra four arms, looking more spiderlike. On at least one occasion, he was turned into a human-sized spider. Then an old enemy -- whose life he had spared on more than one occasion -- killed his fiancee. He was also deceived at one point into believing he was only a clone of the real Peter Parker. Finally, during the Civil Wars" crossover comic, in which all of Marvels super heroes had to choose to reveal their real identities and become registered, or conceal their identities and risk imprisonment or death, he first sided with the pro-registration forces, revealing his identity publicly, only to face the worst of both worlds by joining the rebels afterwards. (Eventually, I believe, he somehow regained his secret identity as Peter Parker.) And almost since day one he has been wanted by the police, for a long time on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend's father.
     Doctor Octopus in the comics is not as nice as his cinematic interpretation. He's not a brilliant scientist who has turned to crime to finance his experiments for the good of mankind; he's a scientist who becomes a criminal basically because he can. (He was a scientist whose mechanical arms -- used to safely handle radioactive materials -- became grafted to his body during an accident, creating a bond with the arms so he can control them mentally. At first he only wants to continue his experiments, but by his next appearance he  wants to make money by criminal means and have revenge on Spider-Man.) By the time of his latest incarnation, hes also old, diseased and dying, making the body switch even less of a bargain for Parker. By the end of The Amazing Spider-Man No. 700, he seems to be dead (though dead isn't always final for comic book characters; in subsequent issues, his spirit seems to still be hanging around and hoping to regain his body).
     This doesn't seem to be a plot for only a couple of issues, but a long-term story arc (though probably not permanent). Of some solace for fans of Spider-Man is that Octavius is influenced enough by Parkers brain and memories that he will continue to be a good guy, and not just use his spider powers to commit crimes.  (This isnt the first time Marvel has featured such a mind transfer wherein the personality of the transplanted mind mix with the memories, knowledge and personality of the brain to create a new personality. In an early issue of Daredevil, an evil scientist switched bodies with the strong but dumb Ox. By issue's end, the scientist in Oxs body has become less intellectual, more visceral and, well, dumb -- which leads to his death -- while the Ox in scientists body becomes calmer, smarter and gives up the life of crime.)
     For more details on The Amazing Spider-Man No. 700, see here.


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