Review: Stan Lee returns in The Amazing Spider-Man #600

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Pity poor Doctor Octavius. Arguably Spider-Man's greatest enemy—the "arguably" because one Norman Osborn has certainly also made a substantial pest of himself, over the years—he's been feeling a little under the weather of late.

A visit to the doctor, kindly illustrated by flashbacks, confirms the cause: cumulative traumatic brain injury, brought about by all those years of being punched in the head by super-beings, not just the webhead but also Captain America, Daredevil, Hammerhead and the Hulk, have taken their toll.

"Over the years," he says sadly, "I've catalogued eighty-six separate cases of blunt force trauma. I've been struck down by peak-level athletes, augmented humans, and occasionally omega-class entities."

With reason, pal.

But it's taken its toll, and the damage has become degenerative. He's dying. So he's through with super-villain schemes, and wants to do something nice for the people of the world before he goes. Except that his definition of helpful is everybody else's definition of megalomaniacally insane ...

The Amazing Spider-Man #600 (Marvel, $4.99) commemorates the wall-crawler's latest anniversary with an epic tale by writer Dan Slott and artists John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson that contrasts Doc Ock's idea of being helpful with the countdown to Aunt May's nuptials. (She's marrying J. Jonah Jameson's estranged father, a development that appalls Jameson and deeply amuses Peter Parker.)

The superheroics are fun, but long-time readers may better appreciate the cameo appearances by many other Marvel heroes, in scenes that highlight just how they happen to be feeling about the wall-crawler this week. It's nice to see that Daredevil wants to keep things on a purely professional basis, the New Avengers regard him with deep irritation that hides substantial respect, and the Fantastic Four sees him as part of their extended family. Out of all of them, it's the Thing who gets the best line.

The giant-size issue features a handful of backup stories, the best of which are "Identity Crisis" by character co-creator Stan Lee (a fantasia on the wall-crawler's disorienting continuity tangles, that pretty much comes out and confesses that the character's much-revised life makes no sense), and "My Brother's Son," by Mark Waid and Colleen Doran, a touching incident from the young Peter's relationship with his doomed Uncle Ben.