Just when you think everything is about to come crashing down upon the head of Otto Octavius, he manages to wriggle his way out of it yet again. But even with SpOck surviving the twin threats from his past of Stunner and Dr. Lamaze, Dan Slott makes sure to let us know that the endgame is still fast approaching, as the Green Goblin comes back into this title in a big, big way.
This was another excellent issue of this consistently great series, especially in how Spider-Man was both heroic and villainous, almost at the same time, basically, this issue encapsulated everything that’s great about this concept. The issue begins at The Daily Bugle, with Betty Brant returning to work there, and being shocked at how much things have changed. Luckily, not everything has changed, as she and Robbie are soon attacked by a villain looking for Spider-Man. That villain is of course Stunner, who commits a crime in front of a Spider-Bot in order to attract the attention of the man she thinks killed her boyfriend, but is actually her boyfriend. Oh man, it’s messed up.
Across town, Otto is dealing with the accusations from Dr. Lamaze that he has plagiarized… himself, and boy, he ain’t doing too well. I loved seeing his self-control drop here, and for him to go into full-on evil super-villain plot mode, thinking that he should use piranhas or build a robot double to take out Lamaze. Luckily, Anna Maria sees this is a joke, and it did work as both a funny scene, as well as a serious signifier that, no matter how far he has come, Doc Ock is still a villain. Spider-Man rushes off to fight Stunner, and they have a really entertaining, emotionally charged fight. I said it last time, and I’ll say it again, it’s amazing how many cool, new story ideas this change has wrought, and being able to bring back fucking Stunner, of all the Z-list villains, and have it feel important and worth it is among the best.
Stunner and Spidey’s fight culminates back at the University, with both Dr. Lamaze and Anna Maria put in danger by Stunner chucking a bus at them. Spider-Man saves them with his all-new, all-powerful webbing, and it’s here that Otto has a real ‘big hero’ moment, as he realises that he truly does love Anna Maria. It’s surprising to me how much I liked Otto in this scene, as I said, Slott has done a fantastic job at making the audience like SpOck in one scene, and then hate him in the next. He’s a true anti-hero in a world where that word is used way too much and way too inaccurately. Using his technology (something Peter Parker couldn’t have done), Spider-Man shuts down Stunner, and goes back to his lab to use the VR rig she was using to get himself out of his various pickles. He creates a VR version of Otto Octavius, pretending that he’s still alive, and uses it to first tell Stunner to move on and then to tell Dr. Lamaze that Peter Parker hasn’t plagiarized him, and that Parker was the true genius behind all of his work in the first place. It was amazing to see Otto sacrifice his ego like this, and perhaps it shows that he is starting to move on from viewing himself as Otto, and now he’s Peter? Now he wants Peter to be seen as the true genius and really put his past behind him, not just in terms of science, but in love.
Of course, there are people out there who aren’t willing to put the past in the past, and one of those is Carlie Cooper, who now knows the truth. She visits the grave of Otto Octavius, which we and she know is actually Peter Parker’s grave, apologizing to him in what is a really great, emotional scene, but then, just as she lays some flowers… the empty grave collapses and she is grabbed by a mysterious, green hand. This hand belongs to Menace, who takes her to the Green Goblin, and gives him Carlie’s journal detailing all she’s discovered about what’s been happening. So now, after a few issues of the Goblins being absent, they are back, and the Green Goblin knows that Doc Ock is Spider-Man. Oh man, this Goblin War story cannot come soon enough.
The art for this issue from Giuseppe Camuncoli was excellent as always, and basically, this was another top-notch issue. This is a complex book with a lot going on, but Slott is balancing everything masterfully, the past, the present, and the future all combining to screw with Spider-Man’s life, and up next… Venom, I can’t wait.