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Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Out Of Reach #1

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Colin Mitchell
Artists: Keron Grant (p), Rob Stull with Derek Fridolfs and Scott Elmer (i)

Publisher: Marvel

As Doctor Octopus is out performing a simple daylight bank robbery he's somewhat surprised to discover the bank's newly installed bank vault looks to be fully capable of withstanding his efforts to get inside it. After making his escape from the arriving police, we see Doctor Octopus is enraged when the man who designed the vault is given the spotlight of the media, and Doctor Octopus sets out to prove the vault is not Doctor Octopus-proof.

Doctor Octopus is doing a pretty impressive impersonation of Wolverine as he's starring in two miniseries that are running simultaneously, while playing the role of the big bad villain in not one but two separate monthly series. Now I'm sure when this all wraps up I'll probably be sick of the character, but on the other hand Doctor Octopus is one of my all-time favorite villains, and he's been used so infrequently over the past decade that frankly it's nice to see the character getting so much attention. Plus, I'm also rather excited by the prospect that Marvel looks to be hedging it's bets that Doctor Octopus is going to be the big drawing card when it comes to Spider-Man 2 as if there was one problem that I had with the first movie, it was that the Green Goblin didn't really grab my attention and hold on to it like a good villain should. In any event the question I should be answering is if this miniseries is worth picking up? Based on this first issue I'd have to say it largely depends on how big a fan you are of Doctor Octopus, as more than any of the other projects out there at the moment involving the character, this one has it's focus centered squarely on everyone's favorite multiple-armed villain. Colin Mitchell offers up a fairly simple plot of Doctor Octopus' ego being challenged by an encounter with a new vault that is designed to be super-villain-proof, and Spider-Man is quick to realize that his longtime enemy is not one who takes well to being served a helping of humble pie.

As for the art, Keron Grant's work has wonderful sense of energy to it, and this lends itself quite well to the action scenes in this issue. The art also does some nice work conveying the speed of Doctor Octopus' tentacles as they criss-cross madly across the panels, and the raw power he's able to bring to bear using them is also impressively rendered, with the scene where he collapses the bank around Spider-Man being the highlight of the issue. The scene where he sends the cop cars flying is also worth a mention. However, the art is a bit shaky when it comes to the quieter moments, as the scene where Peter is sitting on the couch with MJ looks downright awkward, as both characters look unnaturally stiff. The cover image is pretty impressive though, but there would've been a greater sense of danger if Spider-Man's spider-sense was shown going off.

Final Word:
Doctor Octopus isn't a terribly complex character as he's always been presented as an egotistical genius, who is driven to prove he's not the sad sack he believes the world views him as. This in turn makes him a fairly easy character for a writer to make use of, as all they have to do is insert the character into a situation where the character's intellect is either challenged, or he's given an opportunity to show off his latest display of intellect. This story is very much in the former category, as Doctor Octopus runs up against a super-villain proof bank vault, and we see the scientist who designed this vault is silly enough to allow the media to center the spotlight on him, which naturally makes him a prime target for the good doctor and his bruised ego. This opening issue also offers has Spider-Man on hand to provide the opposition, but the battles are rather abbreviated affairs, and there's nothing about them that we haven't seen dozens of times before. I do like the ease that Doctor Octopus is able to keep Spider-Man occupied while he makes his escape, as well as the sense of familiarity between the two longtime rivals.

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