peter-parker-doctor-octopus

The Amazing Spider-Man #20 has arrived, which means readers get the return of Doctor Octopus in his original body and the “death” of Peter Parker — again. Yes, you read that right, Dan Slott has essentially “killed” Peter Parker for a third time.

Here is what you need to know for ASM#20:

  • Otto (inside his Octobot form the future) and AI Anna Maria Marconi visit his grave and find it empty.
  • An investigation reveals that someone has stolen Otto’s corpse from a cemetery that serves as a resting place for many super villains. There is a black market for dead super villains.
  • Otto and AI Anna go into the internet and use their digital “minds” to deceive New U into placing a bid for Otto’s corpse.
  • Otto heads to New U and realizes that his corpse contains the brain waves of none other than…Peter Parker!
  • A fight ensues (again), and Otto makes short work of everyone’s favorite hero. It turns out (and readers should assume this will change at least one more time) that the original Peter Parker died while only a memory “fragment” made it into the ASM #700 Peter Parker body. Jackal even applauds Otto while saying, You killed the heck out of it.”
  • A spy for Kingpin monitors everything that happens in New U.
  • Otto and the Jackal team up to try and figure out a way to keep “reanimated” bodies from decomposing without a pill.
  • The issue ends right where Dead No More: Clone Conspiracy #1 finished.

Just to make sure that everyone understands what is going on, Peter Parker “died” in ASM #700, he was “killed” again for all intents and purposes during Superior Spider-Man #9, and now “executed” in ASM #20. But — and this is a big but — it could very well turn out that this “real” Peter Parker was in fact a “memory fragment” left behind by the “real” Peter Parker as he returned to his body in ASM #700.

Confused? Don’t feel bad about it.

asm20-spiderman

The problem with the original Clone Saga was that it broke one of the most common sense rules for storytellers — don’t break your readers’ trust. That doesn’t mean that authors can’t have twists and turns; it means that readers should never feel duped or misled.

No one wants to believe that the Peter Parker (i.e., hero) they’ve been reading about for days, weeks, months, or years is just a “memory fragment” or a “clone” or a “reanimation.” People sink a lot of money and time into a character, so it becomes bothersome if a writer does the equivalent of, “And then I woke up” on his audience. That is something that high school creative writing classes teach, so it is bizarre that Marvel writer Dan Slott would mine that “reanimation” well throughout Clone Conspiracy.

doc-ock-fight-spiderman

So who is the “real” Peter Parker? Who is the fake? Are any of them real? Readers are supposed to be thrilled with the prospect that the last couple of years have really just been one big fake-out, but human nature does not work that way.

People do not like to be lied to. It’s one thing to play games with supporting characters, but it is a whole different “can of clones” when the protagonist is disrespectfully jerked around.

jackal-otto

There is much more to say, but in this instance I think I’ll cut it short and ask you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. And please make sure to watch my latest YouTube video on ASM #20 and subscribe for regular comic book reviews.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

38 comments

    1. “Would you say the betrayal here is better or worse than the betrayal of Secret Invasion, where beloved characters were evil all along (not) (yes) (maybe)?”

      Well, I personally do not care if it turns out that a character like Mockingbird is Skrull, and I didn’t really care about Henry Pym either. I think you have to be very careful with who you do that kind of thing to, and Bendis did a pretty good job balancing all that out with his overall master plan.

      Bendis is also a technically superior writer to Dan Slott (although I will admit that Dan does “fun” much better than Bendis), so he can skirt that line in ways that others cannot.

      In short, Bendis makes editorial decisions that might annoy people, but he usually has a coherent argument to back up what he’s done. He executes (no pun intended), much better than Dan, so you never really feel like he lied to you or was jerking you around just to jerk you around. He may kill off Rhodey for frustrating reasons, for example, but his stated defense is never really an insult to your intelligence.

    2. Bendis is worse.

      I haven’t read much of Slott, but with him, it’s like they hired someone bad anyway, and he just fulfills your expectations.

      Bendis, everyone tells you how awesome he is…then you read it, and you go between ‘meh’ and ‘that one came off well’ and the plot is ‘thats effing stupid.’and ‘what happened to the s*it we were talking about last issue?’ which is what Secret Invasion is. Everything in that bears his signature ‘plot thread goes no where’…but sure, his stabbing characters to death in an alley wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. We got rid of Wasp! The heroic image of a man diving on a grenade…except he IS the grenade, and this is a comic book, and you’re trying not to laugh.

      Again, if a guy’s job is to write a comic book or a novel…and he can’t put together a plot and finish it decently…and also overuses grating dialogue that supposedly mimics general conversation (imagine a novel written this way)…I don’t know if the man is truly a ‘good’ writer. Maybe hyped writer…sorry, Doug, the guy’s work really irritates me. Though it does provide some unintentional comedy.

      Thanks for the review, I can’t possibly spend hard earned money on Slott…however I do enjoy what I’ve seen in Slott’s work…in a way he surely doesn’t intend.

    1. “Essentially Ock is Kevin Steen and Peter is Sammy Zayn.”

      The owner of my local comic shop says his favorite emails are from guys saying, “I really want to drop ASM, but … I can’t! I’ve been reading too long!”

    2. Well RYV is doing well in the reorder charts, coming out ahead of Clown Conspiracy, so there’s that, instruct your LCS owner to pull more of them.

  1. Let me get this straight: the story is claiming that the real mind of the real Peter Parker actually did die in ASM #700? The Peter Parker who arose later in SSM was a memory-fragment?

    1. How do brain-waves continue to exist **inside the dead brain of a dead body**?
    2. How does a fragment exhibit sentience, do self-talk, exert will-power, etc., as Peter did in SSM?
    3. Does the story confirm Otto’s claim is true, or is the door left open that this is just his erroneous opinion?
    4. Should we now dub this whole thing the Otto Saga? The Doc Ock story that never, ever ends.

  2. An investigation reveals that someone has stolen Otto’s corpse from a cemetery that serves as a resting place for many super villains. There is a black market for dead super villains.

    Huh. You know what? That’s a REALLY interesting idea! And you could have fun inverting the clone saga here. Only instead of Peter Parker, it’s his villains being cloned and going through shenanigans. It would be a hilarious twist to reveal that the return of Norman Osborne who orchestrated the clone saga was, in fact, a clone too. Hasn’t spidey had several villains come back from the dead? What if…? etc

    Still, I could probably write half a year off the ideas of a super villain cemetery and black market bodies! Unless I’m missing something, Slott seems to have a knack for picking the most boring thread out of a suite of more interesting ideas. Almost like an inverted Grant Morrison.

    Nicely done Otto. Not really sure what you were fighting against, but my sensors confirm you killed the HECK out of it

    . . .

    It’s like watching a kid raised on memes of star trek and internet slang actually write an episode of star trek. Cringe all the way. Just… that hurts to read.

    BONUS for those who maybe weren’t there for the clone saga, here’s SF Debris discussing its place in comic history and where it went wrong.

    1. “Huh. You know what? That’s a REALLY interesting idea! […] Unless I’m missing something, Slott seems to have a knack for picking the most boring thread out of a suite of more interesting ideas.”

      I can see Marvel doing a mini-series on these super villain grave robbers and their attempts to sell the bodies on the black market. Heh. It’s an interesting idea, but I honestly do not think governments would let some of these corpses go for exactly the reasons covered in “The Clone Conspiracy.”

      Side note: Thanks for sharing the video. Good stuff.

    2. What? You mean stealing bodies is AGAINST THE LAW??? Well surely nobody would do it then. 😉 C’mon Doug, this is COMICS we’re talking about, governments being against something has never been a cause for stopping anything. XD

    3. “C’mon Doug, this is COMICS we’re talking about, governments being against something has never been a cause for stopping anything.”

      I wasn’t saying that, Nerdwinchester. 😉 I’m just saying that the bodies wouldn’t just be thrown into a random graveyard like they are in The Clone Conspiracy. There might be guys stealing bodies, but they’d be breaking into secure facilities to do it. It would be like “Oceans Eleven” meets Marvel’s “Grave Robbers.”

    4. Ah. See, if I was writing it, I was going to reveal that actually both is true. It looks like a regular old graveyard on top, but then once you dig down it turns out there this a secret government facility underground which is where the bodies ACTUALLY go. 😉 This is why you gotta be patient with my writing. XD lol

  3. Amazing Spider-Man was supposed to be a series centered around Peter Parker, not Otto Octavius last time I checked!
    Also, Peter under Slott is a weak minded man when in continuity he is one top 10 most brilliant and intelligent minds in the Marvel universe but Slott likes to gloss that over in order to favor Dr Octopus!

    Great Review and Great Video! Just subscribed to your youtube channel. Keep up the good work!

    1. “Amazing Spider-Man was supposed to be a series centered around Peter Parker, not Otto Octavius last time I checked!”

      Well said, MRstarkiller360. 🙂

      “Also, Peter under Slott is a weak minded man when in continuity he is one top 10 most brilliant and intelligent minds in the Marvel universe but Slott likes to gloss that over in order to favor Dr Octopus!”

      He habitually gets psychologically slapped down by Otto. I should also remind people that it was Otto who inspired “Uncle Ben” in Spider-Verse to stand up and fight for all the spider-men — not Peter.

      “Great Review and Great Video! Just subscribed to your youtube channel. Keep up the good work!”

      Thanks for subscribing! I try to get at least one up per week. It really just depends on how many blog posts I write here and what other stuff is going on with work.

  4. I’ve read several synopsis of this issue now, and it just comes off as mind-bogglingly incoherent.

    “Brainwaves / memory fragments” are like the new words for ‘Clone’ that are equatable with ‘crap’ in Spider-Man comics. How appropriate that the Superior story would end up dovetailing with another Clone Saga.

    Someone call me when they’re making readable ASM comics again.

    1. “I’ve read several synopsis of this issue now, and it just comes off as mind-bogglingly incoherent.”

      And “The Clone Conspiracy” is just getting started. Sigh…

  5. Huh, not a fan. Regardless of what I think of the actual plot (and everything I’ve heard from the beginning has been telling me: “Do not real this”)), the utter confusion over what really happened with the brain swap is not encouraging for a well-written story.

    Anyone have an idea how the story is being received? I’ve tried poking around for that (I find it interesting to compare opinions) and haven’t gotten a good idea if the fans are eating this up or if even the die-hards think that Slott has finally jumped the shark.

    1. “Anyone have an idea how the story is being received? I’ve tried poking around for that (I find it interesting to compare opinions) and haven’t gotten a good idea if the fans are eating this up or if even the die-hards think that Slott has finally jumped the shark.”

      I’m not sure if there is any idea that is too bone-headed for Dan’s die-hard fans. Like him, I think they enjoy treating Peter Parker like a “meat puppet.”

      I typically don’t peruse the comments sections of mainstream comic websites since they’re often Orwellian, but if you pick up on defections from long-time sycophants, then feel free to share. 🙂

  6. Why is the Jackal wearing that mask? I mean it is a cool look but it doesn’t fit the Jackal. Is this the original Jackal or a new one?

    Why even bother with having Otto kill Peter again? All it does is confuse people and adds nothing. So we have to think this person running around as Peter is just a left over mental fragment left in charge of Peters body? Why do we even need to bring this up? I think it is sorta lame because now it is making us think about all that dumb stuff going on during the Clone Saga. Another thing why bring back anything from the Clone Saga? Very few people can make stupid s*** from 20 years ago good. I doubt Dan Slott is one of these writers.

    Why is it Marvel never learn? Didn’t their readership drop a few points this year? Wouldn’t that teach them something? Or is it all that movie and merch money just drowning them so much and deafening their ears they can’t hear the breaking of the foundation? Who asked for this? No one that is who. Only thing I liked seeing all these spoilers online for this series is that … they gave Doc Ock his old costume that was a favorite of mine. But my god this, the s*** they are doing with X-Men (they are bring back Jean Grey, adult version holy shit Marvel has made this so confusing that now 2 Jeans will be running around, and while I love Jean I accepted she was dead and just glad Marvel couldn’t do anything stupid with her because she was dead but nope they are bring her back.

    Iceman is getting an ongoing that will probably fail because solo spin offs rarely work with the X-Men unless they are Wolverine or Cable), Inhumans taking center stage (I don’t give two s**** about I mean they are kinda interesting but reading the original FF issues with them…they do not work as replacements for mutants), Civil War 2 no one has liked, and piece of sh*** sjw pandering super tumblr bull crap like Patsy Walker aka Hellcat.

    1. “Why is the Jackal wearing that mask?”

      Because this Jackal is really a Peter Parker clone. **Nooooooooo!** 😉

      Side note: Kindly keep the “s****” to a minimum. The conversation starts to devolve the more expletives that are used. I’m cool with criticizing a bad story, but I don’t want it to turn into a swear-fest.

  7. The degradation of Spider-Man continues. I’m not surprised that Slott pulled this stunt again. The excuse from the sycophants will be “Oh, he’ll be back by the time Spider-Man: Homecoming is released next year,” but that’s not the point. The point is, Slott hasn’t done interesting with the characters. There hasn’t been a decent Spider-Man comics story in years (I haven’t read RYV and probably won’t), and there won’t be as long as Slott stays on the title. For someone who supposedly likes Spider-Man so much, Slott sure seems to kill him off a lot. It’s like he secretly hates the character and wants to help Marvel sideline Peter in favor of Miles or Spider-Gwen.

    1. Slott’s RYV was IMO better than his version of ASM, but overall I felt it patronised fans of the marriage. It also had a really lame villain, plus I’m not a fan of alternate dystopian universes, which is where the story was set.

      I do however have high hopes for Gerry Conway’s RYV. It is apparently set in NYC prior the OMD fiasco.

  8. More fan-fiction nonsense from the man who IMO can’t write a plausible super hero story that showcases the protagonists strengths and integrity.

    I’m all for the fantastical elements of comic book stories, it’s what makes them fun and entertaining to a degree, BUT if that’s all you are given with no other elements of the craft of storytelling then my suspension of disbelief which is already stretched, is lost

    It irks when I see people say “Oh, but it’s just comics!” like it’s okay to downplay any inconsistencies, lack of character development, lack of real basic science or physics knowledge, etc…..etc…..because you know “It’s comic book science, and you’re not to take comics seriously”.

    Like really let’s devolve into nonsensical stories only because it’s fun and nothing else. All you have left is campy Paycheck Comics void of consistency.

    Any real urgency of drama and action, real world dialogue, any slice of realism and social commentary that doesn’t serve a biased political agenda and logical narrative pathway worth a writer’s craftsmanship is sorely missing from Slott’s endeavours at writing ASM.

    I think I hate Doc Ock more than ever now. I really can’t stomach this uninspired crap any longer. 🕷

  9. I thought of something that Slott may be trying to do. This whole time he has been pushing all of the clones like Gwen, Prowler, etc. as not actually clones but a regeneration or re-animates. He says they are “better” than clones, and I think he may eventually want you to look at them as not clones or even individual bodies with the original’s memories and brainwaves implanted (but with a distinct mind), but pretty much the original person resurrected and continuing to exist in a flawed body. That the minds recovered from these dead bodies used to create the new bodies are the original minds of that person.

    It may be the Peter we have been reading is a fragment that was transferred over into Peter’s body, and Peter’s actual consciousness did die in Otto’s body. Then when Jackal “resurrected” (cloned) Otto from the corpse, the original Peter consciousness was resurrected as well. Slott seems to be pushing that they are the original minds or whatever, so he will treat this Peter’s consciousness as the original, even though the original did die.

    It’s possible Jackal was just playing dumb about not knowing what was going on and copied the full Peter consciousness to a clone body or data storage and let Otto destroy the original. So when the full copied Peter mind is put into the original body or an improved and cured clone body, Slott will claim it is “the same as the real Peter”.

    We know from Prowler’s solicits that he still suffers from the body degeneration issue and is working for Jackal. I’ll bet Otto finds a cure (because of course he will) and cures himself (and maybe even a Peter in a cloned body, so Peter “owes him one”) and perhaps select others. Or Jackal blackmails Peter with his “real” mind, so that’s why he seems to leave Jackal to his own devices in the future stories we have seen solicited.

  10. “I’m not sure if there is any idea that is too bone-headed for Dan’s die-hard fans. Like him, I think they enjoy treating Peter Parker like a ‘meat puppet.’

    “I typically don’t peruse the comments sections of mainstream comic websites since they’re often Orwellian, but if you pick up on defections from long-time sycophants, then feel free to share.”

    Sure, if there’s anything to report. I have lurked as a visitor on a few comic forum pages (the CBR one, I think), and have previously seen a few pro-Slott readers express the opinion that the comics need new blood in the authorship, so mass defections are a possibility, I guess.

    “There hasn’t been a decent Spider-Man comics story in years (I haven’t read RYV and probably won’t)…”

    I actually like Slott’s RYV miniseries a lot (only thing by him I got a copy of), and think it’s worth reading. Slott did capture the Parker family — the sole reason I read the comic in the first place — extremely well and I liked the responsibility theme that the story played with. I will agree with Magnetic Eye that the villain’s plot is the book’s weakest point and I could’ve done without the dystopia part (although both were kind of plot devices to facilitate the main story), so I’m not sorry that that the new RYV series is treating the mini series as an alternate timeline and taking place in modern-day NYC.

    “I’m all for the fantastical elements of comic book stories, it’s what makes them fun and entertaining to a degree, BUT if that’s all you are given with no other elements of the craft of storytelling then my suspension of disbelief which is already stretched, is lost.

    “It irks when I see people say “Oh, but it’s just comics!” like it’s okay to downplay any inconsistencies, lack of character development, lack of real basic science or physics knowledge, etc…..etc…..because you know “It’s comic book science, and you’re not to take comics seriously”.

    I tend to think that the fantastic stuff should make sense in the world that the story is set in. “Looney Tunes” can get away with a lot of illogic, since the world it’s set in operates on what outcome is the funniest, not realism. A lot of the science in “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” doesn’t match real-world science, but it usually operates consistently within each series and makes some sense if we willing suspend disbelief on a few basics (like FTL travel being a possibility). I’d give “Spider-Man” the same consideration. (Personally, I’ve always thought the more sci-fi stuff was a little out of place in Spider-Man, since the series has always been more grounded in its characterization and stakes, but it sometimes works, like with Venom. However, I’ve never found the whole clone idea that interesting, except for the Ultimate version, and that one wasn’t even interested in doing the whole “who’s the real Spider-Man” thing.)

  11. Yeah, methinks the metaphysical and philosophical implications behind all this mind-swapping, clones, data clones, and data clones within clones is more than a little suspect. I mean, whatever happened to the notion that Spider-Man is a super hero who juggling with normal, everyday problems?

    Also, after writing my own review of this issue, and it’s only now how much I realize that this comic is like a matryoshka doll (or Russian nesting dolls) in terms of mindscrews. It’s a story involving the creation of copies created by a possible copy, in which two copies–one being a copy of a copy of copy (who is first aided by a copy) and another a copy of a copy, fighting inside the mind of another copy–and said subplot was itself a copy of another story by the same writer, who is also writing a copy of what happened to the copy of a copy of a copy, and writing also writing a copy of another story about copies which itself was a copy about a story about copies, in a style and technique copied from Spider-Man’s co-creator. Not to mention this post is itself a copy, too.

  12. Good Review! Congratulations.

    After reading this issue I just felt depressed. I just realized that Clone Conspiracy will be just an Otto story and not Peter’s. And I realized that how Slott doesn’t give a crap for Peter, how he just see him as an impediment that prevented him to continue to write Superior. We can see the lack of passion since the 2014 relaunch, how stale, trite and vapid all became, just because he was butthurted because the editorial team demanded Peter back.

    How can the writer of a comic book just don’t like the protagonist?

    No matter what Dan Slott says, we can see that he doesn’t like Peter. He likes Spider-Man and just switched Peter for other character he likes more. And depending the ending of this arc I’m really afraid what will happens with Peter and the Amazing Spider-Man comic book.

    1. “After reading this issue I just felt depressed.”

      Do you want to know the good thing about bad days, Black Suit? They always end. 😉 Don’t be depressed, man. A.) You’re not alone when it comes to how you feel about the book, and B.) There will eventually be a writer who gets Peter Parker. We just have to weather the storm!

      “I just realized that Clone Conspiracy will be just an Otto story and not Peter’s. And I realized that how Slott doesn’t give a crap for Peter, how he just see him as an impediment that prevented him to continue to write Superior. We can see the lack of passion since the 2014 relaunch, how stale, trite and vapid all became, just because he was butthurted because the editorial team demanded Peter back.”

      It is keep telling to see the energy Dan brings to the book when he can cut loose with Doc Ock in comparison to just his Peter-centric tales. The two best issues in recent months concentrated primarily on Prowler and Otto with Peter in the distant background.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Don’t be a stranger! I’m always eager to hear your thoughts on our favorite web head.

  13. On a scale from 1 to 10 — 1 being a word-for-word re-do of an old story, and a 10 being a super-fresh and original story — where would you place this, so far? Slott’s favorite thing is to rehab old, forgotten characters and story-lines. That can be fun, when it’s done right. But so far this story sounds very been there, done that. The Jackal is a one-trick-pony villain as it is (as Mike McNulty has pointed out), so Jackal stories always carry a high payload of redundancy. Slott has added some trivial changes, and some meaningless semantical changes (“reanimates” instead of “clones”, pshaw). But from the thorough summaries I’ve read so far, the originality factor seems to be around a 3 or a 4. What have I missed that would amp up the score?

    1. “On a scale from 1 to 10 — 1 being a word-for-word re-do of an old story, and a 10 being a super-fresh and original story — where would you place this, so far? Slott’s favorite thing is to rehab old, forgotten characters and story-lines. That can be fun, when it’s done right. But so far this story sounds very been there, done that.”

      Originality factor would be 3-4 using your scale, yes. I suppose if it turns out this Jackal is in a “Peter” clone then we’ll be told to lose our minds, but that would not surprise me.

      “The Jackal is a one-trick-pony villain as it is (as Mike McNulty has pointed out), so Jackal stories always carry a high payload of redundancy. Slott has added some trivial changes, and some meaningless semantical changes (“reanimates” instead of “clones”, pshaw). But from the thorough summaries I’ve read so far, the originality factor seems to be around a 3 or a 4. What have I missed that would amp up the score?”

      You haven’t missed anything. It’s pretty cut and dry. I suppose a reader might get added enjoyment out of the book if they accept the premise that “reanimates” are somehow “better” than clones, but I don’t. It doesn’t seem like the semantic games, as you rightly point out, are fooling anyone.

  14. I take it as some evidence that DS really has run out of gas, creatively. Rehabilitating the Jackal into a better, more flexible villain? Great. I was imagining last night re-working the Jackal into a villain who “plunders the dead”, i.e. broadening out his MO and and dropping clones altogether. E.g., a plot in which the Jackal is data-mining the brains of important dead people, and then selling (or using) valuable secrets he uncovers. Him re-defining himself as a “necrologist”. It would make him more of a horror villain, like Morbius. But what Slott is doing is just a coat of paint on the same old house.

  15. I’ve been saying it for years, but it’s time for Slott to step down as Spider-Man writer. He’s been on the title for what, almost ten years now? The only problem is, they’ll select a replacement who’s already in their inner circle rather than choose someone who actually cares about the character and wants to tell decent stories.

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