The Amazing Spider-Man #800 is not just the culmination of the recent Red Goblin storyline that has seen Norman Osborn once again return to his nefarious, Machiavellian ways, but a love letter to Spidey by Dan Slott who will, whether favourably or otherwise, be remembered for his time on The Amazing Spider-Man, and the mark, the legacy he leaves behind. 10 years is a long time and hard to eradicate by future creators, surely?
But, enough of the future; what about the here and now, and this anniversary issue? Well, it not only delivers on the promise of a fist-flying, web-spinning, balls-to-the-wall, action-packed finale – and over 80 pages – but gives more than the odd nod to Spider-Man’s history. It’s a book written by fans, for fans, like Solo: A Star Wars Story, but with proportionately better returns I imagine. There’s the return of the symbiote, more recent newbies to the Spider-Man mythos, Silk and Clash, as well as references to the death of Gwen Stacy and other iconic moments from Spidey’s history.
Slott gets a lot of acrimony online, but I cannot understand why. Maybe in years to come, these self-same naysayers, critics and trolls will see with fresh eyes, from the sober distance history allows us, that his run was very much in keeping with mad-cap, anything-can-happen adventures of Peter Parker ever since his fateful trip to the Science Hall that one time. It’s also a book that reminds us all of the values at the core of Spider-Man. Family, sacrifice, the power of forgiveness and, yes, with great power comes great responsibility. A mantra Peter has lived his life by (well, only after his uncle was fatal shot, admittedly) and one that comes into play once again in this issue. Parker may be unlucky in love, but you make your own destiny and your own choices. And, it’s these choices that forge the person you become and determine the quality of the friends around you. And, it’s these friends who come to Spidey’s aide now, just as he has so many times before for them.
Forgiveness, then, is a reoccurring theme in this issue. Spidey forgives even the most heinous of crimes done against him and his loved ones. No matter what, he shows one and all the power of the man, over the powers he accidentally gained. The Amazing Spider-Man has always been just as much about Peter as his alter ego. The everyman we could all relate to, and still can today. He represents the best in us all. Atlas might have shrugged, but Petey gets up, dust himself off, and ALWAYS considers the other guy first. Slott gets this, we get this, but it’ll still bring goosebumps to you when you read this story. Especially as one iconic character breathes their last. It’s certainly a roller-coaster ride of a read. Be warned.
It also deals with the effect Spidey has had on others around him, as I mentioned in passing above. In simply knowing him, the people he has touched have become better people, even Doctor Octopus, who like so many other characters featured in this oversized comic are influenced by the actions of this friendly neighbourhood man and step up to be counted on the right side of history. Well, at least in this satisfying, optimistic story. Slott even has time to works in his own commentary, of sorts, on guns and gun control.
Along for the ride are some pretty familiar artists, who have worked with Slott on this title over the years as he has had the fortune of playing with Spidey’s sandbox, including Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos and others too. This is not only a celebration of Spidey, but of Dan Slott too, so forgive me this once in not focusing more on the outstanding (amazing, surely?) artwork, but there you go. And rightfully so, I think. Slott has put so much of himself into this series over the years and now he can breathe again. Here’s to you Dan, and to you, Peter! A great anniversary issue and a great send off too, with plenty of toys added to the sandbox for others to pick up and play with. Now that’s a legacy!
I’d pick this one up, even if you’re a lapsed fan. Like me, you may be reminded of why you, too, loved Spidey in the first place.