Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #296

Background

Peter and Mary Jane have finally tied the knot as of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. Their honeymoon adventure is detailed (well, not too detailed) in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #7. This issue featured a special mission with Puma.

Upon their return from their honeymoon, Peter was captured and buried alive by Kraven the Hunter. This storyline began in Web Of Spider-Man #31.

Once Peter returns from the dead, he is trapped in a mental instution, named the "Mad Dog" ward. This began in Web Of Spider-Man #33.

After confronting a spider-slayer, Puma, a deranged Kraven, and a short tenure in an asylum, you'd think the couple would be entitled to some down time. Nope.

Story 'Force Of Arms'

  Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #296
Arc: Part 1 of 'Doctor Octopus Recovers' (1-2)
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Writer: David Michelinie
Pencils: Alex Saviuk
Inker: Vince Colletta
Cover Art: John Byrne

During the worst summer storm to hit New York in almost twenty years, we find Spider-Man walking down the street. As you can imagine, anyone in a skintight costume walking down the street in the middle of a heavy rain is not going to be in a good mood. Spider-Man is no exception, specifically because it's his own fault.

While out on patrol, he discovered that his mechanical web-shooters were out of fluid. He discovered this while ten stories in the air. After saving himself from falling to his death, he begins to walk back to his Chelsea Street apartment. With no other apparent means of transportation - including calling MJ who is out of town on a photo shoot - Peter resorts to walking home in costume.

After a warm shower and some oolong tea, Peter considers redesigning his web- shooters using plastic instead of metal to avoid setting off metal detectors in airports. He realizes that he could also make some enhancements to avoid putting himself in this type of situation again. He promptly falls asleep.

At the South Brooklyn Psychiatric Facility, Doctors Jefferson and Barnum are conducting a new type of sleep therapy on Otto Octavius to help him overcome his unnatural fear of Spider-Man. He has a tendency to plunge into a catatonic state at the mere mention of his arch enemy. During the experiment Octavius awakens from a nightmare in a child-like state and has to be sedated. The overall purpose of their treatment is the complete rehabilitation of Octavius whose talents could be used to benefit humanity.

The next morning, the psychiatrists inject some experimental drugs into Octavius' bloodstream in the hopes that it will put him into a deep sleep. They plan to record his neural activity for use in future therapy sessions. The drugs succeed in placing him in a very deep sleep. However the drugs prove to be too powerful and keep him asleep during another "spider" nightmare. He mentally summons his mechanical arms from the specialized holding cell to defend him.

While looking for news stories to help finance the redesign of his web- shooters, Spider-Man comes across Octavius' arms searching for their master. The arms cause some collateral damage while escaping, forcing Spider-Man to delay pursuit to save innocent bystanders. The arms eventually make their way to Ock. Once they have reunited, he returns to his criminal ways, assuming control of his old gang.

Spider-Man formulates a plan to recapture Dr. Octopus. He convinces Kathryn Cushing to print a bogus article involving Dr. Jefferson publishing a tell-all book about Octopus to bring him out of hiding. This works quite well as Octopus returns to the South Brooklyn Psychiatric Facility intending to kill Jefferson. True to current form, he becomes catatonic when Spider-Man appears. To be more precise, Dr. Octopus becomes catatonic; his mechanical arms do not.

Ock's mechanical arms begin to swing wildly, lashing out at anything that moves. Instructing everyone to leave the building immediately, he leads the semi-intelligent arms through the facility down to the basement. He redirects a hot water pipe toward Ock, gambling that the arms will be programmed to protect him at all costs. The gamble pays off as the arms return him to his hideout.

The next morning Peter sells his photographs of the Spider-Man/Dr. Octopus fight to Cushing. He plans on using this money to finance his web-shooter redesign. At the same moment across town, Octopus realizes that since he can no longer attack Spider-Man directly, he'll have to kill him indirectly.

General Comments

Ok, the opening scene involving Spider-Man walking home in the rain because he's out of web-fluid is pretty funny. That's a very "Parker" moment if I've ever seen one. However as I read on I found a couple of problems.

I'm not sure why Michelinie didn't just have him hop on top of a bus or cab and ride it back to his apartment. That's been used before. He's clung to surfaces in the rain before, so I'm a bit confused. He mentioned not having bus fare, but there's no mention of having a stash of street clothes anywhere (otherwise, he'd be wearing them). I'm not sure they'd let him on a bus in costume. The overall idea is pretty funny, but some of the details ruin the gag for me.

Seeing one of Spider-Man's oldest villains turn into a statue when he confronts his enemy is rather boring. Nothing like a crippling fear in the antagonist to propel a story forward. At the very least, Michelinie is trying to work around the current status quo and show us that Ock is still very deadly and capable of working around his problems.

Overall Rating

This is an average story. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing truly amazing happens.

Footnote

Kathryn Cushing was kidnapped by Octopus in Web Of Spider-Man #5 to lure Spider-Man into a trap. She has somewhat of a personal interest in his recapture.