The Comic Speculator – Back Issue Report: Peter Parker, We Hardly Knew Ya

Amazing Spider-Man #700, (Marvel, 2012)

The Comic Speculator is a blog written by WorthPoint Comic Book “Worthologist” Matt Baum that takes a look at each week’s hot new comics and back issues and the comic market place in general. Prices discussed here are taken from the Overstreet Guide to Comics (OVST), Comicspriceguide.com (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of ICV2.com. The codes under the prices of new titles discussed are Diamond Comics order codes that can be used to help your local comic retailer in ordering the issues discussed. If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like you can catch him on his podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where he and his friend Joe discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.

The Back Issue Report

There was plenty of news dominating the headlines in the last weeks. Congress narrowly avoided letting the economy dive off the fiscal cliff (sort of), the biggest flu epidemic in years is sweeping the Midwest (I got my flu shot, did you?) and Kanye West is having baby with Kim Kardashian. But there was one story you might have missed. America lost a hero. In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #700 (the final issue), Peter Parker was killed by his long-time nemesis Doctor Otto Octavius, better known as Doctor Octopus . . . Sort of . . .

As in every super-hero death story there’s a catch. Long story short, Peter is dead but his body is still running around as Spider-Man. Yep, it was a body switch story, with a twist. Back in Amazing Spider-Man #600, Spidey used Doc Ock’s own technology against him by using a helmet that would allow him to mentally control Ock’s army of Octobots. The day was saved and Doc Ock was defeated, but he was able to map out Spider-Man’s brain, thereby learning all his secrets: his alter-ego, friends, loved ones, everything. Also recently in the pages of Amazing Spidey, we learned that Doc Ock was dying. Years of getting his head kicked in by super-powered heroes had taken its toll and his body was shutting down. But before he would die, Otto Octavius launched his most diabolical plan to date. A plan that would lead to him switching bodies with Peter Parker, and it worked.

The final three issues of Amazing Spidey saw Peter Parker trapped in Doc Ock’s body, desperately trying to figure out a way to undo the body swap. In the end, after a slam-bang-brawl, Peter (trapped in the body of Doc Ock) gave into his injuries and died. But not before a moment of clarity washed over Doc Ock (trapped in Peter’s body) where he saw Peter’s whole life laid before him. He saw the death of Uncle Ben, and Gwen and Captain Stacey, he saw Peter fighting himself and realized in that moment that Peter wasn’t just a costumed menace, but one of the most altruistic people walking the planet. As Peter in Doc’s body, Otto in Peter’s body apologized for everything he’d done trying to ruin Spider-Man and swore to live his life as Peter would have, as Spider-man.

It was a wonderful issue, part of an incredible run by writer Dan Slott, and I even found myself getting a little misty in the end. And like all major hero deaths, there was plenty of backlash. Some fans even went as far as to send Slott death threats. For now, like it or not, Pete is dead and Otto is running around in his body and with a new series, The Superior Spider-Man (#1 hit the shelves last week. So, it seems only fitting that we take a look at the collectible life and death of Peter Parker today, in this Peter Parker Memorial edition of the Comic Speculator. Let’s start at the beginning, when we first met Pete way back in 1962.

Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962)

Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962): Considered by many to be the holy grail of collectible Marvel Comics, this was first appearance of Spider-Man. Writer Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Peter Parker as a new kind of hero for Amazing Fantasy, which was slated for cancelation at the time. Peter was a nerdy-teen with a brain for science that made him the victim of guys like Flash Thompson. Amazing Fantasy #15 hit the stands and readers instantly fell for Spider-Man, making the issue a huge sales success. For years, Amazing Fantasy #15 would continue to rise in value until March 2011, when a copy would sell through a private transaction through ComicConnect.com for $1.1 million, firmly concreting the title of the world’s most expensive Silver-Age comic book. Today, copies in the worst of condition sell for more than $1,000. Currently, the CGC Census lists only three copies in 9.6 condition, with none higher. Presumably, one of these was the issue that changed hands back in March 2011.

Amazing Spider-Man #1, (Marvel,1963)

Amazing Spider-Man #1, (Marvel,1963): Seven months after Amazing Fantasy #15 hit the stands, Stan and Steve would find themselves working on Spidey’s own title in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man. This issue saw the retelling of Spidey’s origin and the first appearance of Peter’s boss, editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle, one J. Jonah Jameson, his astronaut son John Jameson, and one of Spidey’s first villains, the Chameleon. The issue also guest starred the Fantastic Four and features one of Marvel’s most iconic Silver-Age covers. Currently, the issue guides unslabbed for $180,000 and CGC Graded in 9.8 condition (the census lists one copy in this condition) for $360,000.

Peter had a good run with 700 issues of Amazing Spider-Man over the next 50 years, but it all came crashing down last week with his death.

Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2 #700 Midtown Exclusive J Scott Campbell Connecting Variant Cover

Amazing Spider-Man #700, (Marvel, 2012): With news of something so big happening in this issue that writer Dan Slott planned to go into hiding until the heat blew over, pre-orders for issue #700 pushed the comic into instant sell out status. First-prints are already selling for $15 and seem to be going up daily. The variants are doing even better. The Midtown Comics exclusive variant by J. Scott Campbell was offered by Midtown for $12 and is currently fetching upwards of $90 on eBay. The 1:200 Steve Ditko variant, featuring a recreation of Diko and Kirby’s cover of Amazing Fantasy #15, was originally offered for $100-$200 by most retailers and is now routinely fetching over $1,000 on eBay.

Avenging Spider-Man 15.1, (Marvel, 2012)

Avenging Spider-Man 15.1, (Marvel, 2012): This issue came out the same week as Amazing Spidey #700, but due to a poor solicitation that made it sound like a flashback issue, it didn’t get quite as much attention. That was until the comic hit the stands and readers discovered it was the first adventure of Otto Octavius as the Superior Spider-Man. Again, this issue sold out before shipping after a mad re-ordering by retailers everywhere and the comic promptly disappeared from shelves. Now, it’s selling for $10-$15 and seems to still be climbing in price.

Daredevil #21 (Marvel, 2012)

Daredevil #21 (Marvel, 2012): Due to a shipping or release mishap—we may never know which—this issue was the actual first appearance of the Superior Spider-Man on the last page. DD #21 came out the week before Amazing Spidey #700 and surprised a lot of fans with an early glimpse of the new Spidey. The issue sold out days after shipping and again, disappeared from new shelves. Currently DD #21 is selling for $10-$15 and also crawling up in price.

Are these new Spidey appearances the Amazing Fantasy #15 of the future? Probably not, but they are getting harder to find by the day and I would expect all the issue in the final Amazing Spidey story line to continue to climb in value. Of course, Peter will be back. With another Spider-Man film planned for May 2014, I find it hard to believe Marvel doesn’t already have a plan for his return in the works. For now, though, we’ll say a sweet albeit temporary goodbye to our hero and continue to diligently collect the adventures of this new Spidey. Thanks Peter, we’ll miss you.

For a little while, anyway . . .

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Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s comic book Worthologist. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the Comic Book Forum in the WorthPoint Forums, located in the Community tab. You can also reply to this article in the “leave a reply box below. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming!

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One Comments

  1. Eric Miller says:

    After reading 700 Pete pretty much gave away how he will return. Sure he technically died, but his memory is still (or transferred at the last second) in that golden octobot ready for a transfer back to his body. Marvel will probably have Stark, Banner or Richards get a hold of it and stumble into that truth. The question will be after that where to put Doc Ock’s mind as they will want to keep him alive also.