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.
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.
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.
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.