The Desperate? Spider-Man

Dan Slott began his second big event storyline of the ‘Big Time’ era for Spider-Man, following on from last year’s massively successful Spider-Island story. Ends of the Earth is another six-part story, but this time with Stefano Caselli bookends. Caselli will draw the first two issues and the last two issues, with Humberto Ramos nipping in to do the middle section of the tale. This is going to be the grand swansong for Doctor Octopus, and Slott’s main question here is: who is the hero?

While Peter Parker uses his newfound scientist job to make gadgets that can stop the Secret Six (and any other villain who wanders in), that results in an opening attack on a villain which sees Spidey riding a hoverboard and throwing Spidey-bombs. Very much akin to Green Goblin, but also very much a nod to the rest of the story, and what may well be the theme of this event. J. Jonah Jameson has always said that Spider-Man is a threat, but Ends of the Earth has made several hints that, this time, he’s right.

Doctor Octopus is dying, and wants to leave a last mark on humanity. To that extent, he plans to reverse global warming… but he says he wants help. After showing humanity that Global Warming is real by blocking the ozone layer for a few minutes, he then offers them a chance to help him permanantly reverse the problem. Humanity seems to accept the offer. Not Peter Parker.

And so while humans bicker over what this all means for them, Peter Parker is the only one to stand up and make immediate plans to stop Octavius. The question is: does Peter’s concern come from a genuine desire to save the world, or is he flailing against his old enemy because he wants to continually define himself as a hero? Dr Ock seems to be offering a solution to a problem which faces everybody on Earth. And Peter is so sure that it’s time for him to get his gadgets together and beat up an eight-limbed villain that he’s not even stopping to pay attention to what he’s fighting anymore.

Is this going to be a way for Dan Slott to flip the status quo once more, and leave Spider-Man an actual menace to the world? Nobody’s really tried to do this with Spider-Man yet. While Captain America, Iron Man, and every other Marvel character has been conflicted and driven into a grey area by something traumatic or personal, Spider-Man normally doesn’t get proactively angry unless an alien is hopped onto his chest. So this looks to be driving the character away from his traditional role as the underdog hero and into a position as a morally grey, less assured hero. It’s fascinating to watch, and Dan Slott drops just enough subtext into the issue to suggest that this will become a proper, full-time, Big-Time part of the plot in stories to come.


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