This entry will include spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #698. It marks the second time that Dan Slott has used the structure of a legendary issue of John Byrne’s Fantastic Four as the basis of the latest chapter of his Amazing Spider-Man run. There’s a twist to Slott’s story, so explaining which Fantastic Four issue I’m talking about would prohibit the reader from enjoying the clever misdirection.
The issue in question is Fantastic Four #258. Wizard listed it as one of the best comic book stories ever, and it functions as both a standalone, or as the beginning of a three part story. It’s entirely in the perspective of Doctor Doom, often described as a day in the life, as he rules over Latveria, inspects the Doombots, and brings his latest and nastiest plan against Reed Richards to fruition. It’s just as good as they said it was.
One thing that made the story unique was that the Fantastic Four didn’t actually appear in it. Slott borrowed that aspect for Amazing Spider-Man #676 last year, a spotlight on the Sinister Six, which seeded their master plan for the Ends of the Earth saga which eventually led to Doc Ock being sent to prison. Slott noted Byrne’s influence in a 2011 New York Comic Con panel.
An incoming return of the Sinister Six was teased by Slott who noted that of late, Otto Octavius has been on a roll of late from defeating Iron Man to punking Hank Pym and the Avengers Academy. Later, Slott spoke about the ticking clock that is the Doc’s time before he dies – as revealed in issue #600. He added that issue #676 will have no appearance by Spider-Man and will instead feature “all Sinister Six…one of my favorite issues as a kid was John Byrne’s ‘Fantastic Four’ issue that was all what Doctor Doom was doing.”
If Slott had revealed the influence for Amazing Spider-Man #698, it would have spoiled the ending. It starts out looking like a day of the life of Spider-Man. Hell, that’s the title of it.
But we later learn that Doctor Octopus has swapped bodies with Spider-Man. And most of the story has been from his perspective. Meanwhile, Spider-Man’s mind is trapped inside Doc Ock’s body, as he’s crippled, imprisoned and hours away from dying of cancer.
The thing that turned Byrne’s original from a clever experiment to a classic was the realization of just how screwed the Fantastic Four were because of Doom’s latest scheme. Slott didn’t quite pull that off with the Sinister Six spotlight. But he certainly succeeded this time around.