Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #19

Background

The Sinister Six are back, well almost. Sandman is convinced that Doctor Octupus attempted to kill the Casadas family to get revenge on him. In return, Sandman has gotten back together with Electro, Mysterio, Hobgoblin, and Vulture to take Doc Ock down for good. Never being too trusting, Sandman asks Spider-Man to be his back-up just in case the Six double-cross him again.

Spidey was also involved in stopping a raging cyborg from trashing a mall with Ghost Rider. The cyborg was thought to have perished in the fight, but it was a mystery as to who he was or where he came from.

Last issue ended with Spidey's spider-sense going off as he watched from the shadows the Sinister Five confront Doc Ock.

Story 'Slugfest'

The Sinister Five are here to put an end to Doctor Octupus and instead recieve a 'join me or die' ultimatum. Doc Ock was ready for them and easily beats them around with his new admantium arms, except for Sandman. As Sandman makes his way through Doc Ock's attacks, he learns that the Doc wasn't behind the explosion involving the Casadas and it was instead the rest of the Sinister Six. They had caused the explosion to force the Sandman into joining their revenge scheme. He focuses his rage onto them only to be turned into glass once again by the same weapon used by Doc Ock in Amazing #339.

Ock is about to smash the glass figurine that is now Sandman into pieces to make a point to the others when Spidey jumps in. He immediately goes on the offensive (not really a choice here) by taking shots at Mysterio, Electro, Hobgoblin, and Vulture while dodging Doc Ock's attacks. In only a page it becomes obvious that he's in over his head here. Since Hobgoblin had just knocked out his spider-sense with gas Spidey tags him with a tracer and considers leaving.

Just then, the Hulk smashes through a wall and evens the odds a little bit. He was lurking around on the roof because the Pantheon had sent him to stop Doc Ock after one of their psychics forsaw him taking over the world. The following fight involves Hulk taking out Electro, Mysterio, and Hobgoblin with single blows as Doc Ock gets a hold of Spider-Man. Ock smashes Spidey through the walls, surrounding equipment, and the floor. Hulk goes after Ock but is given away by his shadow, created by a blast from Electro. Doc Ock takes hold of the Hulk as he tosses Spidey out of the warehouse and into the harbor. He was making room because he didn't 'want to be tripping over this corpse all night long'.

Now it's down to Doc Ock and the Hulk. The fight (if you can call it that) has some great dialogue between the two. The Hulk will not stop poking fun at Ock while the good docter tries to pretend the hero's strength and cockiness aren't getting to him. Doc Ock puts Hulk through even more punishment than he did Spider-Man and the hero is unable to do anything to stop it. Ock tosses the Hulk just as he did Spidey and the recovering villians agree to join him.

Grabbing the Sandman as they go, the Sinister Six escape from the warehouse as the police arrive. While they talk about their mistrust of one another we discover that Electro was paid by Doc Ock to get the group back together again. Their next stop is 'another dimension' to get weapons that Doc Ock believes are necessary for their plans.

General Comments

Well, it's only twelve pages. In the letters column, Marvel explains that Larsen had lost everything in the great Oakland fire of October. This six- part storyline was actually five, but part two is being split in half. Give Larsen a lot of credit for continuing like this when he lost his home to a fire.

Well, it's only twelve pages, but WHAT A TWELVE PAGES!! This issue is just a brawl between the Sinister Six, Spider-Man, and the Hulk. It doesn't really progress the story except to reveal that Doc Ock wasn't behind the explosion of the Casadas home, and that the Six are back together (which you knew would happen anyway). The fight scenes are beautifully drawn and well-written. For his inexperience as a writer, Larsen can write a great fight scene. Spidey and Hulk are taken out by a much more powerful, confident Doctor Octupus. The fact that his arms are now admantium and, therefore, unbreakable seems to be the missing link that kept him from defeating heroes like these before.

Overall Rating

In my review of part one I said that splash pages, guest-stars, and non-stop action hide bad writing. In this twelve page issue those three things are more than enough and incredibly entertaining. I'd buy any book that had Erik Larsen's art involved with the Sinister Six and Spider-Man, regardless of who wrote it.