Current Reviews


Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure #1

Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Staz Johnson (p), Danny Miki (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

As a Daily Bugle photographer by the name of Jeffrey Haight starts to get his back up about Peter Parker's continued success at getting his photos on the front page, we see he makes an active effort to make his way to a fight between Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man. However, his seemingly exclusive photos are made worthless when he discovers Peter was also at the battle snapping his photos.

Doctor Octopus is by far my favorite Spider-Man villain, and he's second only to Doctor Doom on my all-time favorite villains list, so I have to saw that I delighted to see we're on the verge of being inundated with projects that involve the character, especially after what has been a fairly lengthy absence. This is the first of two miniseries, and with a starring role in the Ultimate Six, and an upcoming arc in Spectacular Spider-Man it's nice to see the first steps out of the starting gate look quite promising. Brian K. Vaughan taps into on of the key elements of the character during the fight with Spider-Man, as the book makes it very clear these two are very familiar with each other, to the point that they are engaging in a game of one-upmanship even when it comes to the insults that they toss at each other. The book also plays up the sense of superiority that Doctor Octopus feels over pretty much everyone he encounters, as he almost acts annoyed that Spider-Man seems to have forgotten that his goggles are webbing-proof. However, the Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus rivalry isn't the only plot device driving this issue, as we're also introduced to a rival photographer, who is trying to get the much sought after action photos that Peter Parker always seems to manage to grab, and his final decision to uncover how Peter manages to pull this trick off should make for an interesting plot device to carry this miniseries.

As for the art, I guess I should first comment of Doctor Octopus' new look, as while I rather like the more organic appearance of his metal arms, I can't say the same for his new trench-coat/cape combo as frankly the look is a bit over the top. The traditionalist in me also misses the bowl cut hairstyle and the goggles, but at least the new look didn't include dropping the extra heft that the character is famous for, as having him overweight is one of the more endearing aspects of the character as it sets him apart from all the other cookie cutter, body builder physiques that we see in comics. The work of Staz Johnson is fairly solid, as he does some nice work detailing the action, and the facial expressions are well done, with the reaction on Haight's face as he arrives in the dark room to find Peter was also at the museum being a particularly impressive example.

This issue has two basic plots going for it, with one being the rather conventional, but nevertheless highly enjoyable battle between Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man, during which Brian K. Vaughan manages to perfectly capture the sense that these two characters have fought so many times before, that they've almost reached the stage where they are no longer take each other seriously. Oh I'm sure Spider-Man recognizes the good doctor is a dangerous threat, and by the same token Doctor Octopus bears a nice healthy hatred due largely to the string of defeats, but you wouldn't really know it by the easy back and forth interaction the two engage in.

The other plot driving this book forward is an Astro City style idea, as we see a rival photographer is allowed to notice the uncanny luck Peter Parker has when it comes to snapping photos of Spider-Man, and after Peter manages to steal the front page away once again, this photographer resolves to uncover Peter's secret. What I really like about this plot though is the photographer is operating within his own little world, and he's allowed to actively acknowledge that Peter's photos do belong on the front page.

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