This review does not reveal the big twist. It's better to let everyone read the issue for themselves rather than discuss the spoilers.
If you're going to make a bold new direction for a character with a long running series, you have to go as big and bold as you can. That's exactly what Dan Slott does here. This will definitely be an issue people talk about. You'll find yourself re-reading it as well as going back to read the previous appearances of Doctor Octopus since AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600.
As the final issue, 700, fast approaches and we prepare for the next series, SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, Slott has made a few comments. He's mentioned that the Spider-Man in that series will not be Peter Parker as well as readers wanting to gather torches and pitchforks when they see what Slott does.
This will indeed be an issue that will cause some anger. Comic readers can be a fickle lot. They can complain when we get the same stories over and over yet when a major shake up occurs, they immediately plan their attack against the creators. I explained the events leading up to this to my nine-year-old daughter and we read this issue together. When she saw the big hook, her eyebrow raised and she was silent. I asked her what she thought and she said, "It's okay. Things always go back." That's what readers need to realize. Things always go back to the status quo...usually.
We need to look at what this issue means in terms of telling new stories. Just as I was outraged when it appeared Phil Urich chopped off Hobgoblin's head back when Big Time started, Dan Slott had a plan that resulted in some great Hobgoblin stories. This crazy event will change the way you look at Spider-Man. You may not completely like what happens but that's only because you have an affection for the characters involved. That's the result of good storytelling. If you didn't care about the characters, big changes or events would be meaningless.
During the build up in this issue, we do get to some insight from Peter Parker in terms of what his life has been about and where he wants to go. It makes everything that much more interesting. Slott keeps pushing Peter into new territories and keeps showing that there is another layer to Spider-Man that isn't often explored. What that all means after this issue will be something to see.
The art Richard Elson is great here. You can feel everything moving along smoothly. Whether it's a little encounter with a thief or a whispered conversation with Mary Jane (including a great flashback panel to the famous "Jackpot" scene), you feel yourself getting pulled into the issue. That cover is haunting as well after reading the issue.
You'll definitely want to read this issue a second time. You will see it in a completely different light.
Am I thrilled with the twist here? Of course not. Spider-Man is at the top of my list of favorite characters. But we need to see our favorite characters go through the ringer once in a while to see how they overcome the situation, if that's even possible. Change can be good in comics. We have to assume this won't be forever but it sure will make some crazy and interesting stories. It is an extremely bold move. Many readers will hate what happens. You just have to look at it from the storytelling point of view. If Dan Slott can do this, what else could he do?
We've been waiting for months for some clues or insight into what Dan Slott has planned for the end of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and the beginning of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN. We get a pretty big indication of what's coming here. It's a move I didn't see coming and that's a big credit to Dan Slott. He's taking a big chance here with the characters. There will be readers that are outraged but that's a sign that they do care about them. This is just another obstacle in the life of Spider-Man. It's a big one that may take a while to overcome. While that attempt is made, we will get some Spider-Man stories unlike any we've seen before. After fifty years, that's a big accomplishment. I am not thrilled with what happens here but I love what Dan Slott is doing. It's always been clear he's having a blast writing Spider-Man and you'll want to see what happens here and what will happen next. This is more than a mere stunt. This is the evolution of the character and big change that will set the stage for the next chapter of Spider-Man. Do yourself a favor and read this issue. Try not to spoil it for others, even if spoilers are already out there. Let them read it and be shocked for themselves. Years from now you'll ask others, "Do you remember where you were when you read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698?"