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Marvel Kills Peter Parker, But Spider-Man Will Live On (Sort Of)

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Marvel Comics' web-slinging, wise-cracking superhero, Spider-Man is no more. Well, to be more precise, Peter Parker is no more.

In the 700th and final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott's controversial story saw Spider-Man's mind switched with that of his dying arch-foe Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus. The twist is that with his final effort, Spidey was able to give all of his memories and morals to his body-stealing enemy.

For all intents and purposes, however, the Spider-Man as we knew him is dead. Slott explained to Weekend Edition Saturday guest host Linda Wertheimer why Doctor Octopus was the right person to "become" Spider-Man.

"Doc Ock is on some level the shadow Peter Parker," Slott says. "Peter Parker ... was very resentful of all of his peers. [But] it was the ethics and things that Aunt May and Uncle Ben taught Peter than in the end made him a hero."

"With great power comes great responsibility," is the famous line from Peter Parker's Uncle Ben that set him on his path for justice and duty.

In his formative years, Doctor Octopus was a similarly bespectacled nerd and outcast much like Peter Parker. But not having those moral guideposts following his radioactive accident that turned him into an analog of an eight-legged creature, he became a villain instead. Doctor Octopus, now in the body of Spider-Man but imbued with Parker's "great responsibility," renounces his evil ways and vows to become a better, nay, a "superior Spider-Man!*"

"He kind of realizes that he wasted his life on villainy," Slott says.

When word of the story started to spread, Internet spidey senses began tingling and even had some fans making death threats against Slott. He told Wired Magazine that he joked he was going to have to pull a "Salman Rushdie" when the issue came out.

But Slott says there's also been mix of positive reaction as well.

"There's a lot of people that realize that over 50 years of Spider-Man, that some of the best stories involve loss," he says.

Real loss in comic books is pretty rare, however, and many major characters including Captain America, Superman and Batman have all been "killed" before, only to return some time later. If history is any indication, we might not have seen the last Peter Parker — he just might return as an alien, a robot or perhaps a version of himself from the future.

Not surprisingly, Superior Spider-Man #1 goes on sale in January, starring the villain-formerly-known-as-Doctor-Octopus as Spider-Man.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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