Doctor Octopus is a dick. Especially in this post "Brand New Day" world. He has a terminal illness and wants to defeat Spider-Man one last(or would that be first?) time. He's had a few shots at it in the recent past but, as usual, they were foiled. And now is the time for his final desperation attempt before his ailing body gives out. Enter: Amazing Spider-Man #698.
Dan Slott has been pointing to this issue as the lynchpin of what happens in #700. And by the end of the issue, you know why. While reading it, I couldn't help but think it felt off--wrong somehow. If felt like a very strange one of those "hey let's catch you up on what's happening for new readers" issues, but not executed quite as well. Then those last few pages hit you in the gut and it all makes sense. On top of the twist, it just goes to show how desperate Doc Ock has become. Suddenly this goes from a shoddy issue to an expertly crafted one.
Why else would Peter sound so damn happy? He would never sit around and talk about how awesome life is, let alone his. He just sounds dumb. Then you find out it's Doc Ock in his body? Of course! Someone who inherits that life when his own is at it's end would be ecstatic. But my favorite line is what sealed this issue for me: "And like a good magician, I shall NOT reveal my secrets. You will die, NEVER knowing how I performed my last and greatest trick." Doc Ock, had always been a joke in my eyes for the most part, but then he comes through with this? BADASS!
The art side is a bit of a let down. Not that it's bad, it isn't, but for the last three(four if you count 699.1) issue arc of a 700 issue series, I would have figured Marvel would pull out the big guns. Where's Ramos, or Marcos Martin, or JRJR, or any other big name that's worked on Spider-Man in the last few years? I know we get Ryan Stegman for Superior Spider-Man in a few months(fucking awesome!), but come on. That being said, the art has a very classic feel to it, which maybe fits the tone of the story better than a more stylized Ramos like art.
If this is the start, I can only imagine what we have in store for the last few issues. Slott has done a great job of ratcheting up the danger for Peter Parker with both new and old villians, and continues that trend with this issue. Doctor Octopus may be a dick, but he's also terrifyingly smart.
And so is this book.
4 out of 5 Metal Octopus Arms