Friday, 8 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #89. Dr Octopus

Amazing Spider-Man #89, Dr Octopus
(Cover from October 1970.)


Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Gil Kane
Inks by John Romita
Lettering by Sam Rosen

What Happens:
The world believes Dr Octopus dead, killed in a plane explosion but, when he reads that no sign of the villain's remains have been found, not even his metal arms, Peter Parker's sure he's still alive.

He's right. Octopus attacks a power station, to black out the city, so it'll be helpless before him. Spider-Man tries to stop him but fails and, at the tale's climax, Octopus flings the defeated hero, seemingly to his death, from atop a building.

I love this issue. The main reason being the strip has a new artist; ex-Green Lantern maestro Gil Kane. Not only is he one of my favourite artists but, at last, the strip has a permanent penciller, with John Romita on inks. Romita's said in interviews that every time he inked Kane's work, he learned something new about the art of drawing comic books and it's easy to see why, as Kane experiments with panel arrangements, viewpoint, perspective and finding ways to express mood visually. He even finds time, on page eight, to have fun throwing in a little homage to Steve Ditko. Not only is Kane's work startlingly sophisticated but, in his visual story-telling, he manages to make Dr Octopus seem all but unbeatable, with his tentacles creating a sense of inescapable claustrophobia as they appear to be permanently surrounding or entangling our hero while coming at him from all angles. The way it's drawn, Spider-Man isn't fighting to defeat Octopus, he's fighting just to stay alive.

The issue's only downside is we're never told how Ock survived the plane explosion.

Peter Parker's personal life:
Peter bumps into Randy Robertson who asks if he's going to a protest against air pollution. Peter says no and Randy accuses him of not caring about anything except himself. (Later in the same issue, Joe Robertson and JJ mention air pollution, and Dr Octopus attacks a power station - one of the causes of air pollution. With its anti-war protesters last month, Stan Lee seems to have settled on an issue-of-the-month format.)

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