Thursday, 7 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #88. Dr Octopus

Amazing Spider-Man #88, Dr Octopus, John Romita cover
(Even when he seems to be 'armless, Dr Octopus is a handful. Cover from September 1970.)

"THE ARMS OF DR OCTOPUS!"

Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by John Romita
Inks by Jim Mooney
Lettering by Sam Rosen


What happens:
Dr Octopus's tentacles are being kept on display in a museum when they suddenly burst into life. They're being controlled, long-distance, by Octopus, using his telepathic rapport with them. Spider-Man tries to stop them but fails and the tentacles bust Ock out of jail.

He heads for the nearest airport to stow away on a plane.

But he soon discovers it's no ordinary flight. On board is the Chinese representative General Su, on his way to address the United Nations. Octopus spots a chance to make money fast and takes the General, along with everyone else on board, hostage. If he doesn't get ten million dollars, it's curtains for the lot of them.

Spider-Man rushes to the airport and sneaks on to the now landed and stationary plane. The obligatory fight breaks out, the obligatory webbing of Octopus in the glasses breaks out. In the confusion, the hostages flee the plane, leaving the villain without a bargaining chip at the roulette wheel of life. With the police closing in fast, he needs to get away from there sharpish.

He tries to fly the plane out of there. But Octopus is no pilot and the plane crashes at the end of the runway. Nothing could survive that explosion. One thing's for certain. Dr Octopus is dead.

Or is he?


The Verdict:

I really don't have that many thoughts on this issue. It's a good solid tale that sees the return of one of Spider-Man's deadliest enemies. I am somewhat puzzled by the ability of Octopus's tentacles to function without him. OK, he has some sort of telepathic control over them but how do they see to do anything in his absence, including battling Spider-Man to a stand-still?

On top of that, it does seem like madness that the prison authorities take no action to increase security around Octopus, even though everyone knows his tentacles are on the loose and under his control. Did it really not occur to anyone that he might try to escape? I've commented on the lax state of prison management in the Spider-verse before (see The Shocker and The Vulture)and I get the feeling that I'll have to again in the future.

Elsewhere, it is impressive how J Jonah Jameson seems to be involved in everything that ever happens in New York - and even more remarkable that John Jameson, astronaut, seems to be put in charge of every matter that involves a military presence in the world of Spider-Man. It's even odder bearing in mind that every time he's put in charge of something, it always goes disastrously wrong.


Peter Parker's private life:

Not a lot of it this issue but he and Gwendy are getting along like beans on toast all of a sudden. They're all smiles and flirting. Romita's back on the pencils, big time and he's restoring a lot of her old zest. Suddenly, she doesn't seem like such a stiff after all.

On the downside, Professor Warren calls Peter in for a "chat". Thanks to his unexplained absences, our hero's grades are slipping disastrously and, if he doesn't get his act together, he's going to flunk college altogether.

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