Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #686

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This story is part of an Arc: "Ends of the Earth"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This review was first published on: Jul 2012.

Background...

A dying Doc Ock has hatched a scheme to destroy the world by accelerating global warming. To accomplish his plan, he’s launched a series of satellites into space, no thanks to Spider-Man, who’s teamed up with Silver Sable and the Black Widow to prevent those launches.

But file all that under ‘too little, too late’, for it seems Ock has achieved his goal. As Spider-Man watches in horror, Symkaria burns...

In Detail...

"From The Ashes Of Defeat"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #686
Jul 2012 : SM Title
Arc: Part 5 of "Ends of the Earth"
Writer:  Dan Slott
Artist:  Stefano Caselli
Cover Art:  Stefano Caselli
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Frank Martin Jr
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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Articles: Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Rhino, Silver Sable

As Silver Sable goes into shock, Spidey tries to comfort her, but the Black Widow intervenes. “She’s no use to us now,” she says, her tone neutral. “And we have work to do.”

You can’t miss appealing to Spider-Man’s sense of responsibility. He jumps into action to save civilians caught up in the inferno. But before his inner mantra of ‘power and responsibility’ gets going, the Widow interrupts again. “We have to go! Now! ...This hemisphere is done for... we hae to cut our losses, find Octavius, and get him to shut down his satellites before the rest of the world burns!”

Nor is the Widow the only one who finds Spider-Man’s pity party to be tedious. Nearby, Mysterio and the Chameleon watch the argument from a hidden base. “I could have written all of his [i.e., Spider-Man’s] lines ahead of time. He’s so wonderfully predictable,” sneers Mysterio.

“So how long until these two geniuses figure it out?”

“Hours, Chameleon. Unless Ms. Romanoff storms off set. There’s only so far my heat lamps, a holographic sky, and thirty blocks of pyrotechnics can go.”

Not wanting their audience to see through the illusion, the pair decide to distract them by having ‘Doctor Octopus’ (actually Chameleon in a robo-suit) make a personal appearance. Good timing, too: Peter was just on the verge of realizing that the heat from the heat-lamps wasn’t enough to account for the destruction he was seeing. Unfortunately for Chameleon, when the real Doc Ock checks in remotely from his Octahedral, he’s outraged to see someone else waging his final battle against Spider-Man. Determined to rectify the situation, he takes personal control of the battle-suit.

What with the internal squabbling between Chameleon, Mysterio, and Ock, all expressed using the battle-suit’s voicebox, Spider-Man figures out the situation pretty quickly, and one dose of magnetic webbing is able to shut the suit down. Ock’s presence departs, leaving only an imprisoned Chameleon and an eavesdropping Mysterio.

The former is easy to deal with. Natasha says to him, in Russian, that she knows something even the Kravinoffs don’t know, namely the secret of his “true face”, which she will expose unless he cooperates. He dutifully shuts up.

Now it’s Mysterio’s turn. Spider-Man handles this one, pointing out that either Ock means to save the world or burn it. If he saves it, Mysterio wins and gets to keep his cash. But if he burns it, Mysterio loses everything, cash included. “So here’s the high concept,” Spider-Man concludes. “Spider-Man and Mysterio. A buddy picture. Two guys who can’t get along, teamed up with two sexy spies, go to the bad guy’s secret base. Save the world. And all your money.”

Mysterio can’t resist. He’s in.

A few interludes: out in the Atlantic, the Horizon Five are trying to figure out how to make a useful contribution to Spider-Man’s crusade. Aside from noting the similarities between Ock’s octobots and recent inventions by Sajani and Grady, they’ve got nothing... until Uatu has the bright idea to look, not for Ock’s satellites, but for his Octohedral. It must be hidden, even though Ock is constantly broadcasting from it. So the next time Ock makes a broadcast, they’ll monitor the globe for the one spot they can’t see, and that will be the Octohedral! Seems implausible to me, but Max Modell is all over it. “Come on, people. Let’s make this happen!”

Meanwhile, in New York, Mary Jane is buying a nightclub to hold a party for Peter when he gets back from saving the world. And in Boston, Jay Jameson Sr. is trying, and failing, to reconcile with his son. At least he was able to reach him on the phone: May couldn’t reach Peter at all. “Why hasn’t he called back?” she wonders. “Where could he be?”

He’s in Guatemala, at a fake Mayan pyramid that conceals Ock’s hidden base. (Apparently Mysterio wanted to pull a Mayan-apocalypse special effect, given the hysteria surrounding the Mayan calendar terminating in 2012.) But oops - Ock knows they’re coming, as he’s figured out how to pierce Symkarian stealth technology. Through means not obvious to the reader, he disables the Swan, which crashes near the pyramid. As Spider-Man, Mysterio, Sable, and the Widow alight, Ock boasts that’s he’s got a new Sinister Six for them to face: the Avengers! Namely, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, and the Red Hulk! Sure, they’re controlled by Octobots and hence a shadow of their regular selves, but still, that’s a formidable set of foes.

As Team Spidey swings into action, the web-slinger has a horrible revelation, one that aligns with the one the Horizon Five had a little while ago. Ock’s tech uses Horizon breakthroughs! In fact, Ock’s cryo-pellet that took out Captain America back in ASM #683, Ock’s armor for his battle-suit, and the stealth technology cloaking his satellites, are all based on Peter Parker’s own inventions!

“This is all my fault!” Peter realizes.

I’m not sure about that, but we’ll figure it out next time!

In General...

In my review of last issue, i.e., Part Four of the ‘Ends of the Earth’ arc, I observed that what we were reading was “a second-act story: there’s no big moment here until the final two pages. The rest is just moving the plot forward.” The same criticism applies here. Once the reader tumbles to the fact that Symkaria burning is a special effect, nothing much happens until the very end, when readers learn that Ock has turned the Avengers into his new Sinister Six.

Scratch that: the last thing we learn is the perplexing revelation that Ock has been cribbing his technological developments from Horizon Labs. Not only is this plot twist awkwardly shoe-horned in after the putative Big Reveal of the mind-controlled Avengers, making an anti-climactic conclusion to the issue, it’s a twist that won’t be called back to in the ‘Ends of the Earth’ arc. So why include it?

(See, sometimes there are benefits to posting these reviews so many weeks after the issue’s publication date!)

I wonder if Ock’s mole at Horizon is the same mole who was feeding intel to the Kingpin way back in the ‘Big Time’ arc? Correct me if I’m wrong, readers, but I think that’s a plot threat that was never tied off.

Overall Rating...

We’re moving along to the big finish in a by-the-numbers fashion. Last issue got two webs; this one gets three, partly for the Spidey-pitching-Mysterio bit, which made me laugh, but mostly because, unlike other installments of this arc, there’s no torture or creepy attitudes about sex on display.