Doctor Octopus has returned with a scheme to increase his power, which also threatens all of New York.
The story opens with a truck transporting radioactive material being stopped on a bridge by Doc Ock. The drivers recognize their attacker, as Ock's tentacles smash thru their windscreen and rip them from their seats. Ock declares that he could easily kill them, but he is feeling merciful tonight as he is only interested in their cargo of radioactive isotopes. One of the drivers foolishly tries to shoot Ock with a gun, but he easily deflects the bullets with his tentacles as he escapes under the bridge.
In Peter's Chelsea apartment, he watches a news bulletin on TV about the crash of the truck which was transporting the potentially lethal plutonium rods, and that the police are searching for Doctor Octopus who attacked the truck and stole the rods. Peter is less than pleased to hear that Doc Ock is back, and thinks to himself that Ock is capable of anything, and none of it pleasant. He wonders what Ock wants with those plutonium rods. As he changes to Spider-Man, he recalls how Ock nearly murdered 5 million people during the incident where he tried to poison the Daily Bugle's newspaper ink. And now Ock has stolen enough fissionable material to decimate New York City.
After hours of scouring the city looking for Ock, Spider-Man's spidey sense goes off at a man entering a jewelry store. As Spider-Man confronts the man accusing him of attempted robbery, the man is outraged declaring he owns the store. Spider-Man cannot understand why his Spidey sense lied to him. A passing Police car pulls up, but Spider-Man makes a hasty exit. Meanwhile, in the nights that follow, Doc Ock strikes at various places like Stark International and the Acme electronic warehouse. New York begins to find itself in the grip of fear as Ock's scheme draws closer to fruition. The Bugle newspapers report Ock's crime spree, and implicate Spider-Man as being involved. Peter is outraged, and decides to have words with Jonah Jameson at the Bugle. At the Bugle, Jonah is blustering at one of his employees for wanting a paid vacation. Peter tries to speak with him, but Jonah brushes him off, saying don't speak to him unless he has photos that will link Spider-Man to Ock's latest crime wave. Robbie Robertson comes along, and tells Peter of a photo assignment regarding Brentwood labs on Long Island, and how they are constructing a prototype nuclear reactor. Components vital for that construction are due to arrive in New York by ship tomorrow night. And there may be a story there if Doc Ock runs true to form. Peter gladly accepts the assignment.
The following evening at the west side pier, the ship has pulled in, and Doc Ock attacks the three guards on the ship, knocking them out. Ock gloats to himself how even though the ship was guarded in anticipation of his attack, they still could not stop him. Ock rips the reinforced steel bulkhead off its hinges with his tentacles. However inside the chamber a nasty surprise awaits him.....Spider-Man! Ock attacks Spider-Man, declaring he will see him dead. Spider-Man maneuvers around behind Ock quickly, and hits him in the back. Ock lashes out his tentacles and snares Spider-Man by the leg, flinging him hard into a bunch of metal barrels. Ock picks one up and declares Spider-Man has ruined his plans for the last time. Ock attempts to crush Spider-Man with it, but he dodges it quickly, and ducks out of sight. Ock thinks Spider-Man is being a coward, but Spider-Man suddenly surprise attacks Ock, knocking him to the ground. But Ock refuses to stay down and attacks Spider-Man again. Ock tries to corner Spider-Man, boasting how this is Spider-Man's finish. Spider-Man dives towards Ock at high speed, and is about to hit him when tear gas bombs are suddenly thrown at them from behind. Ock realizes the guards have recovered. The guards believe Ock and Spider-Man are working together, and hurl more tear gas bombs. Spider-Man is finding it difficult to breathe. Ock grabs Spider-Man in his tentacles, and tells him he'd like nothing better than to crush the life from his body. But he's much more valuable as a diversion. Ock hurls Spider-Man at the guards, knocking them down. Ock then takes off to the freighter's hold in search of the electronic components he's after.
The guards try to catch Spider-Man, but he knocks them back with a swift kick, and makes a giant leap off the ship. On a rooftop he rips off his mask. His eyes are still watering from the tear gas. He managed to get some pictures of the fight, but Ock escaped. Realizing he'll probably get the blame, he punches a chimney to pieces in anger. Meanwhile, In Ock's secret underground lab, he finishes constructing his nuclear reactor. All he needs now is to tap into a power source and his master plan may proceed. Ock gloats to himself about his master plan, and how only he could have carried it out. Ock recalls how it was radiation that gave him absolute control of his artificial arms. Increased radiation, properly controlled and channelled, should provide him with even greater power. Enough power to destroy Spider-Man once and for all.
Later at the Bugle, Jonah is pleased with Peter's photos. Lance Bannon suggests they make the photos look like Spider-Man and Octopus are working together. Peter blows up in anger, and warns Bannon to keep his paws off Peter's work. Robbie tries to calm things down between them. They are interrupted by the Bugle's science editor. She has checked the list of equipment Ock stole, and says he would be able to construct a workable nuclear reactor with them. Peter declares he's hitting the streets to see if he can turn up anything. Peter slips into a deserted supply room and changes into Spider-Man. He realizes now more than ever that he must find Doc Ock. He's deadly enough without a deadly atomic toy at his disposal. He also has a hunch as to where he may find Ock's secret lair. He returns to the jewelry store where his spider sense had started mysteriously buzzing days ago. And sure enough it happens again. There's no apparent danger on the street, but under it there is. Spider-Man ducks into a man hole in the street.
Crawling along the walls to avoid the cold and slimy water, Spidey follows his spider sense until he comes to a wall at the end of a tunnel. Smashing his way thru it, he finds Doc Ock on the other side, who claims he's been expecting Spider-Man. "Forewarned is Four armed huh, Doc?" Spider-Man quips as Ock wraps his tentacles around him. Spider-Man grips Ock's tentacles and yanks him forward, causing Ock to crash to the floor. Ock is quick to recover however, and smashes the wall where Spider-Man had been. Spider-Man lands on Ock's reactor. Ock, holding a chunk of debris, tosses it at Spider-Man. Spider-Man dodges it, but it smashes into the reactor equipment causing sparks and smoke to come out of it. As Spidey and Ock continue to battle, Ock's reactor heads toward critical meltdown. Spider-Man spots a crate above Ock, and snags it with his webs and yanks it down on Ock, knocking him out.
Suddenly Spidey's spider sense goes off. Spider-Man realizes that reactor's going out of control, and that Octavius is an engineering genius, and probably knows how to stop it in time. However, behind Spider-Man Ock's tentacles come to life and carry the unconscious Ock towards Spider-Man. Spider-Man's spider sense goes off again and spots what's happening. He realizes the tentacles are acting out of reflex as they attack him. With the countdown to critical mass getting closer, Spider-Man realizes that he needs Ock more than ever to stop this. Spider-Man grabs a bucket of water and tosses it on Ock's face, waking him up. Ock declares Spider-Man should have fled while he had the chance, as he goes to attack Spider-Man. As Ock ensnares Spider-Man in his tentacles, Spider-Man directs Ock's attention to the reactor. As the countdown reaches 10 seconds, Ock goes to the control panel, saying if it goes, they go with it. Spider-Man points out that New York will be doomed too. But Ock scoffs at this, saying he cares nothing for this town, or for Spidey himself. But the world must not be denied Ock's genius. Ock rips a power cable with one of his tentacles. The reactor shuts down.
Ock rages that Spider-Man wrecked his lab and destroyed his dreams. He declares that he will see Spider-Man dead here and now. But Spidey's spider sense buzzes again, as the ceiling is about to collapse. Spidey warns Ock of this, but Ock is too enraged. The ceiling begins to fall, and Spidey leaps out into the sewer water outside. As the lab crashes to the ground, Spider-Man emerges and looks at the wreckage. Spider-Man thinks to himself that Ock didn't survive. That he could have given the world so much, but all he did was take. And few will mourn his passing.
For a one shot Ock story, I'd forgotten how good this issue is. Rodger Mc Kenzie did a fine job on this story, weaving in Peter and Spidey's personal problems, along with a great villainous plot from Doctor Octopus.
The ending had a really nice twist. Octavius is willing to let everyone perish by his own creation. But he will not let the world be denied his own genius. A wonderful insight into the egotistical thinking of Octopus. People are nothing to him, but he is a genius who cannot be denied.
You'd think by now Spider-Man would learn not to think Ock dead when he sees no body. Ock has been assumed dead by Spider-Man at least three times in the past, and each time, just like in this instance, Spidey saw no body. Tsk tsk wall crawler, you should know better than that by now.
A neat one shot story featuring Spidey and his greatest nemesis. And a great glimpse into the villain's way of thinking.
3.5 webs. Very enjoyable issue.