Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: Danny Fingeroth
Penciler: Greg LaRocque (#4), Jim Mooney (#5)
Inker: Vince Colletta (#4), Greg LaRocque (#5)

I do like the way they’re subtly altering the position of the hanging spider in the logo on the front of these things each issue. It varies things a bit, like the sofa gags on The Simpsons

I'm also intrigued at the inking and colouring on #4. The opening sequence takes place in darkness, requiring a lot of black. Usually the colours have to be exactly lined-up with the inks, as they are on page one, to awesome effect:

However pages 2-5 are a little less impressive. I think the excess colour is meant to get swallowed up by the black, but the actual printing hasn't made good on that. For example, look at the overlaps on page 4, panel 1:

Can you make that out on your screen? How the colours overlap the black? Like, around Spidey's socks and right hand, and the guy on the left's purple hat?

Anyhow, this does make Spider-Man look quite ghoulish!

As seems to happen with super-villains, the ironically-named Doctor Octopus is now receiving mental care.

As doesn't seem to happen with super-villains, he's actually making authentic progress.

I mean that's usually just a rouse, isn't it? A shallow attempt to fool a parole board and bluff one's way back outside and into freedom to wreak havoc again. But not so Ock. He's genuinely struggling with his inner demons and, tentatively, he seems to be winning.

Until an actual spider randomly finds its way into his room, and pushes him back over the edge again.

#4 leaves us in no doubt about Ock's unconscious state of mind, mainly because he spends so much of this issue wreaking all that havoc whilst actually unconscious. Although he's under sedation, across town his removable metal arms go berserk and make a beeline to set him free. They're not sentient, they're just still obeying his remote mental commands.

At the end, Ock is free again and faced with a choice – succumb to his obsession against Spider-Man all over again, or return to his treatment that seemed to be going so well?

I guess it's really a choice about whether or not to forgive. If Ock chooses to hang onto his obsession, then it'll probably destroy him again. If he actually manages to beat it, and let go of it, then the rest of his life could actually be a reasonable one.

This is Marvel, so it could easily go either way.

Alas, he selects the former. Dang.

Plunging into his hatred again, #5 shows him even building a robot duplicate of Spider-Man to practise against. Though these issues are set during the 1980s, when such a product seemed maybe just around the corner, here in 2009 I'm still waiting for technology like that to become available.

The conclusion is both clever and flawed. While the real Spider-Man is outside battling Ock's goons, the robot one is inside giving our super-villain another workout. Until it turns-out that the robot one is actually the real Spider-Man.

Nope, you can't pull a fast one like that on us, I'm sorry. The narration on page 18 panel 2, segueing from the real Spidey into the start of Ock's fight, clearly says "Meanwhile".

Also disappointingly Spider-Man doesn’t keep said robot afterwards, despite how handy it could have later come in for maintaining his secret identity. Hmm.

I do like Ock's silent breakdown at the end though, and even more so the way Spider-Man subsequently defeats all his henchman, by simply pointing-out what crowds of baddie-guards so often don't realise.

Their boss has been defeated – no matter how hard they fight, they're just not going to get paid now.


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