Spider-Man the most abused flagship character that you can imagine, ends his Amazing Spider-Man series with issue #700 and begins a very poorly named new series called "The Superior Spider-Man" under the Marvel NOW banner. When you think about Spider-Man, "Amazing" fits, as does "Spectacular" as they are basically 3rd party descriptions of what the character can do. "Superior" sounds very arrogant, which doesn't fit the characterization of Spider-Man that I have (or "had", as I'm not a big fan of the "Sins Past" and "deal with the Devil" version of Spider-Man Marvel is carrying on with). If there was ever a need to re-set and re-boot a character, Spider-Man is it, and Marvel NOW is the time. However, given that they've consistently abused DC Comics of doing character re-boots, the "braintrust" at Marvel won't be able to fix the character, and will drag the baggage of poorly thought out plotlines into the new series.
Here is a link to a more comprehensive history of ongoing Spider-Man titles (Spider-Man Comics - Issue Numbers - WTF?), and below is how Marvel arrived at the issue #700 in the first place.
|Series||Issues||Total Issues||"Full" Numbering|
|Amazing Spider-Man (1963)||1-441||441||1-441|
|Amazing Spider-Man (1999)||1-58||58||442-499|
|Amazing Spider-Man (2003)||500-545||46||500-545|
|Amazing Spider-Man (2008)||546-700||155||546-700|
|The Superior Spider-Man (2013)||1+|
Marvel would probably argue with the above, as they like to pretend that Amazing Spider-Man was a consistent series from 1963 to issue #700 in 2012.
Up to issue #441, they may have maintained that argument, however they re-launched Amazing Spider-Man in 1999 with a new #1, following the very damaging storyline "The Clone Saga" where they intended to replace the "Peter Parker" of the first 400+ issues, by reviving a clone from the 1970's and making the claim that the character considered the "clone", who apparently had died in issue #149, survived and was the "real" Peter Parker. The one we knew from that point onward was really a clone, married Mary Jane and had a baby. The found "former clone" would be single, and could return Peter to an earlier era without having any discontinuous re-boot of the series. They chickened out and after a 100 or so issue crossover clone saga storyline, kept the same Peter Parker, with the marriage, but a missing baby. The clone, named Ben Reilly is still kicking around some place.
In 2003, Marvel realized they had a #500 issue, and re-numbered Amazing Spider-Man, keeping the original numbering. In 2008, after a few horrible character changes ("Sins Past", "Spider-Totem" and, of course the deal with Mephisto which erased his marriage and the memory of his identity in order to revive his pre-historic Aunt from a bullet wound) caused me, at least, to consider this Peter Parker/Spider-Man to be a new character who didn't seem to remember his own history and moral values (thus, Amazing Spider-Man (2008).
UPDATE: Having read Amazing Spider-Man #700, the change to "Superior Spider-Man" makes sense now. In the past, I might have found the resolution of #700 to be disturbing or problematic. However, after the "Sins Past" and "Brand New/One More Day" decisions by Marvel, I have very little attachment to the character, which is very sad. I am a little interested in seeing how long "Superior" lasts, and whether the new status quo continues (I suspect not, and I suspect it is by design that it will not last).
I would have been much more interested if Marvel decided on a clean re-boot of Spider-Man, removing the problematic decisions of the last 10 years or so, and clearing up the clutter of continuity that seems to bedevil the creative forces at Marvel. An honest re-boot, which may be what is planned when the post-#700 situation runs its course, would be the only way to re-vitalize a misused character.
I thought Ultimate Spider-Man was an excellent series, and was the re-boot the character needed. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a "current" running through Marvel that focused on the freedom of the writers to do dramatic things, such as killing off Peter Parker at the conclusion of volume 1. I did like the freedom they had to bring up "old" storylines from Amazing Spider-Man, and update to suit the newer times, or diverge greatly form the "616 Universe" history. That was the power of the re-booted series - not the focus on the characters being disposable. The fear Marvel has in creating a new, long-term, complicated continuity outweighed the idea that they had re-created some of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko magic of the early 1960's - it could have lived for many more profitable years.