Thursday, 12 March 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #55. Dr Octopus

Amazing Spider-Man #55, Dr Octopus
(Cover from December 1967.)

"Doc Ock Wins!"

Written by Stan Lee
Drawn by John Romita
Inked by Mickey Demeo
Lettered by Sam Rosen


Don't mess with Spider-Man when he's angry. Like Bruce Banner, you wouldn't like him when he's angry. And why's he angry? Because, thanks to Dr Octopus, his aunt's had yet another of her near-fatal attacks. Now, Spidey's after the metal-tentacled menace - and heaven help anyone who gets in his way. He kicks off by tearing apart the roof of a building, to reveal the presence, within, of two of Ock's henchmen. He promptly trashes them, and the Dr appears on a screen behind him, to taunt him. But our hero's in no mood to be taunted and wrecks the place.

Meanwhile, across town, the establishment's still fretting over the nullifier. They can't risk Octopus having another go at stealing it and so they've brought in John Jameson to organise its protection. The only problem is, a spy of Octopus has infiltrated the meeting and is merrily making notes.

Back at Anna Watson's house, Aunt May's tucked up in bed, still convinced Dr Octopus is a good guy and that he was only defending himself against that horrid Spider-Man. When it came to the handing out of self-preservation instincts, she was clearly so far at the back of the queue that everyone had gone home when she finally reached the front, leaving her just stood there, on her own, in an empty building, going, "Hello?" Downstairs, Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy turn up for a quick round of verbal sparring - Mary Jane wearing what seems to be a see-through dress, judging by her first panel. Pete, clearly no typical teenager, seems not to have noticed her exposed juggage and, instead, spends the scene worrying about the cost of repairing the hole in the living room wall.

Octopus, meanwhile, is worried about nothing. He's on the video-phone to his spy who's happily telling him about the security arrangements for the nullifier. Apparently, it's going to be taken to Tony Stark's factory, for safe-keeping.

Not if Octopus has his way.

Jameson and his convoy are already on their way to the factory but, suspicious of a parked utility maintenance van, they slow down as they approach it. The guileless fools, they're looking the wrong way as, unbeknownst to them, a tentacle's emerging from a man-hole cover behind them. Clearly, John Jameson's tactical masterplan for the safe delivery of the nullifier didn't include telling anyone to keep a look-out behind them. It's Octopus, of course. With no noticeable difficulty, he takes the entire convoy out, grabs the nullifier and he's off, in the back of the maintenance van.

Showing his usual uncanny knack of blundering into trouble, Spider-Man stumbles across the scene, realises at once what must have happened and, using an intuition that frankly borders on the psychic, decides that, now he's got it, Octopus'll head for the one place no one would expect.

Tony Stark's factory.

There, Octopus uses his newly acquired weapon to render the security guards' guns useless and declares that he can do anything with his nullifier. Anything!

Yeah? Well, not if Spider-Man has anything to do with it. The webbed wonder arrives and starts to fight Octopus. But he's being too tasty with his fists for Ock's liking and so, for no real reason, the evil-doer decides to fire the nullifier at him. The nullifier is, of course, a device designed to render any weapon useless, so there's no reason at all to think it'll have any affect on a man. But this is where Octopus hits pay-dirt because, not only does it have an effect, it has a dramatic effect. Spidey falls to the floor in agony, his radio-active blood affected by the machine.

Now, Spidey rises to his feet. But it's a very different Spidey. It's a Spidey who doesn't know who he is.

Octopus is no fool. Well, yes he is, he's proven it repeatedly in the past. But, for once, he shows some smarts and tells his foe that the reason he's wearing a mask is because he's a criminal and in league with Octopus. Well, he's not going to believe that, is he? Even without a memory, his moral compass will surely tell him that can't be so?

No it won't, and at the end of the tale, arch-fiend Dr Octopus has gained a new - if slightly bewildered - ally in his war on niceness.

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