So apparently “Ends of the Earth” wrapped up in Amazing Spider-Man today, a big story about Doctor Octopus wanting to murder seven billion people so that everyone will remember him after his death as History’s Greatest Monster: “a mass murderer worse than Hitler, Pol Pot, and Genghis Khan combined!” He actually says this.
Never mind that seven billion people puts him pretty safely into the realm of “a mass murderer worse than all mass murderers ever combined”.
Never mind that I’m not sure anyone — Hitler, Pol Pot or Genghis Khan included — ever sat down and went, “This is what I’m going into the history books for, boys. Being a mass murderer!”
Never mind the nauseating “heroes don’t torture, if you pretend that torture means cold blooded murder and nothing less” scene from a few issues back.
Never mind that the entire story felt like a video game with a bunch of ‘quests’ that were immediately invalidated because Doctor Octopus had secret contingency plan after secret contingency plan.
You’ll all be glad to know that Spidey saved the day, and kept Doc Ock from turning on his Doomsday Satellite and murdering 99.992% of Earth’s population. The good guys won! But don’t try telling that to Spider-Man!
You see, back in the brutally childish but beautifully drawn Amazing Spider-Man #655, Spider-Man made a solemn vow to his dead Uncle Ben and everyone else he’s ever known that died:
No one dies! I’m not sure how he thinks that’s going to work. Obviously tons of people die every day, dozens in a city the size of New York alone. Maybe he’ll accept it when someone dies in a non-violent way, but what if it was preventable? What about accidents? Does it only count if it’s someone Spider-Man knows, or is in his direct line of sight? This is not explained. But for the past year or so, Spider-Man has vowed that “NO ONE DIES.” And despite thwarting a plan to literally burn all life off the face of the Earth, saving the very existence of humanity from the mad plan of his archenemies, Spider-Man can find no joy in victory. He can’t even find victory! For you see, Silver Sable might have died. She explicitly told him to go save humanity, and that she would willingly sacrifice her life so that billions more may live. We didn’t even see her body, so we have no way of knowing if she survived or not. But Spider-Man still puts this in the L column. No one should be surprised. Spidey’s been getting more and more hardline in his moral absolutism lately. Who can forget his tough love for Franklin Richards?
Or this tense exchange with Captain America?
And while I’m sure it was a fist-pumping moment for a lot of fans to see their hero lace into one of his biggest detractors, I wonder if Spider-Man wasn’t going a little too far in this scene with J. Jonah Jameson?
This is the Spider-Man we have now. I’m sure Steve Ditko would be proud, if he was willing to express the weakness of human emotion, or read superhero comics.