A unique and interesting publishing experiment for Marvel; the comicbook offers up a classic look at Spider-Man only done in a modern age. This juxtaposes both the feel-good fun of old-time continuity (for us older fans), layered on top of well-worn and comfortably known Spider-Man history; yet (and this is the really cool part), it holds no actual impact on established continuity. Giving us good old-fashion fun with no discernable consequences. How cool is that?
It really doesn't get much better than this folks. As readers, we are handed a comic that is one part retro Spidey as a teen (Marvel Age: Spider-Man), one part Modern Spidey as a teen (Ultimate Spider-Man), and two parts Classic Spidey as a teen (Silver Age Amazing Spider-Man); making it more than an just an alternate universe Spidey, but just shy of an actual continuity implant. Which of course makes this series not only fun to read, but thoroughly entertaining as well.
Dr. Octopus has been defeated by Spider-Man, been deprived of his mechanical arms thanks to the authorities, and is now wasting away in jail. Sucks to be him, eh? Well. The bad Doc may be down, but he is not out. You see, he has figured out a way to use the legal system to his advantage. He is attempting to have his lawyer convince a judge that he is just a mere pawn in all of these nefarious machinations.
That's right, boys and girls, unbeknownst to the authorities; Doc Ock can telepathically control his mechanical arms, even though they are not attached to him. Thus, his plan is to mentally command his arms to attack Spider- Man so that a judge will see that they are sentient, and can act on their own, and thus will be forced to release him. Nice plan, if it works.
The splash panel is a full-on shot of Spider-Man wearing Doc Ock's arms and terrorizing some innocent civilians. To discover how this happens, we flash back to drop in on the de-armed Ock who is currently taking up housing at the expense of the State and City of New York, on a little rock in the middle of NYC's harbor, called Ryker's Island. With no arms to back his play, he is just another bespeckled, overweight thug in an orange jumpsuit, and he is currently being pushed out of the food line by a bigger, muscle-bound thug who wants to eat first.
Ordinarily, this would wank him off, but Ock is busy planning his defense. He is mentally attempting to get his arms to respond to his mental commands and get them to attack Spidey. In this fashion, if the authorities see his arms acting on their own to attack Spider-Man, then his high-paid shyster will earn his fee and convince a judge that the arms took over the actions of Octavius and he was just along for the ride rather than directing the original attack on the Amazing one.
Across town, Ock's arms animate at his command, and begin to track down Spider- Man. They break out of the police property room where they've been held, and begin its (their?) trek across the city. Needless to say, the arms find Spidey in short order. He has just webbed up a pair of muggers and is retrieving his camera so that he can sell the photos to The Bugle, when the arms attack. At first, Spidey thinks that Ock has broken out of prison and is attacking him. He is understandably surprised to learn that it is the arms on their own (or so it seems) that are attacking him without their chubby master.
The arms not only swipe Peter's camera, but also begin to attack our hero. During the brawl, the arms take chase Spidey to a rooftop where they take a swing at Spidey only to miss completely and strike an electrical power box, sending thousands of volts of electricity through it's internal system, and totally shorting itself out. As the cops burst out onto the roof, Spidey has recovered enough to regain his footing and make good his escape leaving behind a still sentient, but now somewhat confused set of mechanical octopus arms.
That night, at home Peter and Aunt May are watching TV when a newscaster comes on the air and reveals that Ock's plan has worked, and because of the arm's attack on Spider-Man that afternoon, a judge has ruled that it was the arms, not Ock that was behind the attack on the City. Thus, Ock's bid for freedom worked, and he is due to be released. Needless to say, this pretty much freaks out May's beloved nephew. To further to add to Peter's angst, he notices that Ock's arms have trailed him home, and are now at the window attempting to get his attention.
Quickly, Peter exits his Aunt's house, expecting yet another pitched battle with Ock's appendages. Only, when he gets outside, he discovers that the arms don't want to attack him, as much as they want to play. More to the point, much like a lost puppy, the arms first sheepishly return Peter's camera and then try to make nice with him. Across town Ock is getting released from Ryker's, and (unaware of the jolt to the system that they received) is wondering why he can't seem to achieve contact with his missing arms.
The next day, Ock begins wandering around the city in search of his missing arms. At home, Peter is awakened by his Aunt and sent off on his way to school. The arms, (which "slept" on the floor, appears somewhat jealous that Peter ignored them all night while working on his homework, and pays him back by "eating" the homework. Besides himself, Peter leads the arms out back, and places them in a dog house instructing them to "stay" until he gets home from school. As can be expected, the arms have a different idea, and secretly begin to follow him as he walks to school.
Peter hasn't really gotten far, when he happens across Ock who has been trying to track down his arms. When Ock sees (Peter and) the arms, he begins to scold them. At first, Peter (who hasn't yet seen the arms), thinks that Ock (whom he recognizes), is talking to Peter, and then he realizes that the arms are behind him, and that Ock is talking to them. Ock is overjoyed to finally find his missing arms, and begins to hug them. Peter, quickly finds a convenient hiding place, and changes back into Spidey.
Once again in costume, Spidey and Ock face each other down as each attempts to command the arms to do what they want, only to thoroughly confound the arms themselves. Finally, Spidey gets the arms to come to him (much to Ock's dismay), only to have the arms encircle him, and begin to thrash Ock. Spidey manages to slip out of the Arm's harness and now the arms are really bumfuzzled, as they don't know whether to side with Spidey or Ock. As Spidey hears the sound of approaching sirens signaling that the cops are on their way, he realizes that he needs the arms to act as if they are with Ock, otherwise the court will allow him to remain free. So he very forcefully shuns the arms, forcing them to go back to their former and future master.
When the cops arrive, the arms are hugging Ock, thus not only violating the court order that Ock stay away from the arms, but also proving that he is indeed their real master. The next day, Peter is at home doing his homework when he hears a tap on the window. Expectantly, he turns around hoping against hope to see the friendly arms again, only to see a woodpecker at his window tapping on the frame.
As we've come to expect, this is truly classic stuff. If you haven't picked up this series as of yet you are just cheating yourself out of some of the most imaginative Spidey stories to come out of Marvel in about a decade. Seriously, this reviewer hasn't had this much fun between the covers of a Spidey comic in many years. The dialogue and characterization are not only crisp, but also actually reminiscent of Spidey's early youth (you can almost feel the presence of Stan nodding approvingly in the wings). The art itself not only radiates a youthful vibrancy and energy that is unfortunately missing in many of today's comics, but squarely places the comic in modern times.
So if you are looking for an intro into the Spidey legend, have a friend who hasn't joined the Spidey family, or even know of a young child to whom you are attempting to introduce to comics via Spidey's wonderful mythos, then right here is the series you want to pitch to them. It is with this series (as well as the other Marvel Adventure series; the FF and the soon-to-be-released Avengers), that Marvel recalls it's own colorful (and fun) past and grants new readers a much-need jumping on point, and attempts to hook new readers with the magic that is Marvel comics.