Dr. Octopus makes his Spidey Superverse debut. And boy, does he wish he had stayed in the main Marvel Universe, after the beat down Spider-Man gives him here and in future issues.
Our thrill-packed action-ride coaster-thingy opens in a 'state prison', where Doctor Octopus has been held 'for months now'. Or at least he was being held there, since on the first page a prison guard sees him escaping as he is bringing Doc Ock his nutritious meal (on a silver platter, no less). How did Doc Ock escape from our government's penal system? Through the window, of course! And not in a cool, bending the bars and sliding through kind of way, oh no. That would be too sensible. No, he UNLOCKED the GLASS window, and crawled out, duh! He didn't even have to break the glass. Not only did the state of New York place a dangerous super-criminal in a regular prison, they put him in a cell with a glass window that unlocks from the inside. Maybe he convinced them he wanted to grow some pretty flowers on the ledge, I don't know. But I'm betting somebody got canned over this one...
Peter then hears the news that Doc Ock has escaped over the radio, at basically the same instant that Ock escapes. I wonder where they find these radio guys. I mean, these guys just KNOW when something relevant to the plot has to be aired right NOW, or some hero could miss it. "Thanks for tuning in to K-VIL, all villains escaping, all the time." *Sigh* The radio reporter then broadcasts the note that Ock left behind when escaping prison. I wonder if maybe he should not have taken crime scene evidence and read it over the radio before the police even see it, but that's just me.
Doc Ock's Note: I seek the greatest eight-armed prize of all!
Now Peter naturally assumes that Doc Ock is talking about him. Since he has eight arms and all... Hey! Wait a second, Peter doesn't have eight arms. What he does seem to have is a bloated ego and a narcissistic streak. Though, ok, he did get his powers from am eight-armed spider and all, Peter definitely does NOT have eight arms (even little vestigal ones), so what Peter is basically saying is that he believes he is 'the greatest prize of all'. Now, no matter how many women tell me this, and no matter how much studlier they say I am than Harrison Ford (for example), I do not go around telling people I'm 'the greatest prize of all'. If you ask me, I'd admit sure I'm probably in the top twenty nationwide, but this is just a little much.
So God's-Gift-to-Everyone Peter puts on his Spidey outfit and goes out patrolling the city. Well, ok, not exactly patrolling. What he does is cling Spidey style to the side of his own apartment building and wait for Doc Ock for an indeterminate amount of time. Nice plan there, genius boy.
We then flash to Doc Ock, who *surprise surprise* doesn't think Peter's hot little bod is the greatest eight-armed prize of all. We get a three panel origin flashback. (Handling dangerous radioactive chemicals with metal arms, explosion, I am Doctor Octopus - King of Crime!, and so on). And then Doc leaves to go get the real eight-armed prize. And despite what I thought at first, it's actually not those quartuplets from the Doublemint commercials.
Peter has apparently given up waiting on the wall of his apartment building, and is now swinging about the city, when (as luck would have it!) he sees a banner advertising the 'Golden Goddess of India' statue on display at the museum, with a picture of *drum roll please* a seven-armed statue. No no, you knew it all along, it's actually an eight-armed statue. Just seeing if you were paying attention. Someday I wish Doc Ock would give out a clue like, "Only the greatest snorkel instructor in Finland knows the location of my secret base", and then go and knock over a liquor store or something. Spidey would spends months in Scandinavia and NEVER figure it out, I guarantee.
So Spidey finally realizes that he is NOT the 'greatest prize of all', and swings over to the museum that holds the statue thingy, just in time to see Doc Ock robbing it. Doc Ock has crawled in through the window (once again!), and is bending over the statue with a crowbar when he sees Spider-Man. I'm starting to think Doc Ock has some really funky mutant 'window unlatching power'. That would be a lame mutant power, but not quite as bad as having telepathic three-foot-long blue maggots for friends.
Doc Ock then unleashes his fearsome attack by extending his arms most of the way towards Spider-Man, and then lobbing the crowbar at him. He didn't like wind up and throw it, no no, he got his arms real close, and sorta lofted it, and Spidey caught it. Ohh. I'm betting Snuggles the Fabric-Softener Bear could have survived that one. Doc Ock does even worse with his next assault. "Hey, if I can't beat Spider-Man, I might as well knock over a bunch of rare vases to get a longer prison term!" I don't know, it does force Spidey to throw some webbing on the floor to save the pieces. But I'm still not real impressed with Ock's offensive capabilities. I think that one-armed drummer from Def Leppard could toss a crowbar and knock a vase off its stand, and Doc Ock's got five more arms to work with here.
In this next scene, at first I thought that Spider-Man had wadded up a pedestal and a giant golden sphinx head (6 feet tall, at least) in his webbing, and was swinging them towards Doc Ock, trying to smush him against the wall. Just like I do with all the damn octopus in my room. That would've been pretty darn cool. But upon looking closely at the panel, I realized that no, Doc Ock was just knocking the Sphinx head onto the ground and Spidey was webbing it up to keep it from getting damaged. Which is pretty dumb since the Sphinx head has already hit the floor, and besides Spidey only put cushioning webbing on the sides, you know, like the part that doesn't touch the floor. But I digress (nothing new there). It was actually Winslow Mortimer's extremely interesting use of perspective that made it difficult to tell that this six foot tall, five foot across Sphinx head had been resting on a pedestal a foot across, and Doc Ock knocked it over so it's actually between him and the viewer. (I wonder how many Electric Company kids that thing would've crushed if they could find a museum. Cause you just KNOW they would've tipped it over on top of themselves). So *whew* my mistake, I thought Spidey was flinging the treasured artifacts back at Doc Ock after just having saved them. Nothing that contradictory ever happens in Spidey Super Stories. No, he was just trying to save a giant golden Sphinx from falling off a miniscule pedestal after it had already hit the ground. Much more sensible.
So then Doc Ock gets the jump on Spidey and pins him against the wall with three of his arms. And now, being the criminal genius he is, he decides to grab a painting off the wall and hit Spider-Man with it. In all fairness, this less-than-threatening attack does yield a lame pun about framing Spider-Man. (Doc Ock: I'm ending your superhero days! You might even say... I'm going to "frame" you! CONK!) But I am not impressed. If I were Doc Ock, I would've taken the opportunity to pimp-slap Spider-Man with my mechanical arms until he didn't know whether to cry or spit teeth at me. I SO should be a super-villain.
Anyway, Spidey is unconscious from being bashed with the painting (which didn't even get scratched, heh), and Doc Ock puts the 'Golden Goddess statue' (which suddenly looks five feet tall instead of two) into his gym bag. And yes, somehow it fits. And now Doc Ock has a new clever thought. After using that 'framing' pun and all, he decides he better try and actually frame Spider-Man for the crime. So before he goes he leaves a note on the stand where the stature used to be, saying,
Note card: Thanks a bunch! --Spider-Man
Doc Ock then pours water on Spidey's face so he wakes up, after all the trouble he just went through to knock him unconscious. But it's ok, it's all part of the PLAN, with a capital P. Ock goes out through the window (of course), and Spidey follows, but the police arrive in time to see Spidey fleeing, and not Doc Ock.
You know those scraggly weeds that grow in between the cracks on sidewalks? Not really very smart, are they? You can just yank them right out and they don't even fight back. But however dumb the weeds are, the police in this comic have to be dumber. Apparently the state of New York has been recruiting exclusively from the Sunnyvale Home for the Mentally Slow Like Snails. Spider-Man, obviously not carrying a five foot statue in his skin tight costume, is climbing out the window, when the 'police' arrive.
Police Officer 1: Come back you! Hey! This note says,
"Thanks a bunch -- Spider-Man!"
Police Officer 2: *awesome look of total comprehension on his face* Then Spider-Man stole the statue!
Hey Ma, look, it's Columbo. Yeah, most criminals routinely thank you for participating in their robbery and then leave their names. That's not suspicious. I'm sure these police officers are always confronted with little notes like, "Took the Monet - toodles! -Terrence Brown, 3125 9th Av., corner of 9th and 3rd, beige building with brick trim, apt. 2B, take the back stairs." After I steal something really valuable, I definitely want people to know it was me. Especially if I'm Spider-Man, and you can't even stroll down the damn street in New York without me web-swinging by. Oh well, these police came from the same system that put Ock in the cell with the glass window. So I really wasn't expecting much from them, but then again I also don't expect much from my cat when we play Parcheesi.
By the next morning, Spider-Man is (once again)a wanted man, JJJ says he's a masked menace, calling for his head, etc. People on the street immediately decide he's guilty from reading one biased newspaper article. (Oh wait, I guess that does happen in reality.) Police choppers are scouring the rooftops. And no one seems to wonder if maybe Spider-Man had been at the scene of a crime trying to stop the crime. Yeah, Spider-Man never does that...
Spider-Man: If I hadn't been there... even I would say I was guilty!
Yeah, Doc Ock's super-clever note fooled the WHOLE WORLD. "Thanks a bunch! --Spider-Man". That was the note. And it was so clever that it almost fooled Spider-Man himself into thinking he had robbed the museum. Uh... I'm at a loss for words.
Exciting resolution time. Spidey, dodging the police, sees Ock getting on a cruise ship down at the harbor. He uses his webs to cover Ock's glasses, and then Doc Ock stumbles directly into the harbor (Do Not Pass Go). This allows Spider-Man to rescue the statue and throw it at those two idiot policeman who blamed Spidey in the first place. Who just happened to be randomly walking by. This of course instantly clears Spidey's name. So all that's left is the story-ending pun. Spidey decides to throw some webs at Ock and haul him out of the harbor, where he should have drowned four minutes ago. And he says to the police-morons, "I have a present for you. This man's polluting the harbor!"
So why exactly did Ock leave a cryptic note telling Spider-Man where he was going to strike? He seemed pretty bummed when Spidey showed up, so why bother? He sure ain't no Riddler when it comes to leaving baffling clues. Hmm... I can think of one good reason. P-L-O-T C-O-N-V-E-N-I-E-N-C-E. Or possibly C-O-N-V-E-I-N-I-E-N-C-E. I'm stuck without a spell-checker, and that's the word that knocked me out of the seventh grade spelling bee anyway, so I refuse to put any effort into spelling it.
So apparently, you can break into someone's house and steal anything you want, and then leave a note like, "I stole all your stuff, hope you don't mind. --Your Next-Door Neighbors." And since the Neighbors presumably were in the area when the crime was committed, they will immediately be arrested and tried. Or better yet, if they're not home when the police come, they will institute a city-wide manhunt while the Neighbors are tried by the media and the court of public opinion. Just wanted to make sure I had that straight.
2.5 webs. Doc Ock was about as threatening as a toasted marshmallow throughout this story. I like my Octopus with a little more spunkiness. Though that does make them harder to swat against the wall.