Current Reviews


Amazing Spider-Man #43

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: J. Micheal Straczynski
Artists: John Romita Jr. (p), Scott Hanna (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with Peter discussing what he'll be doing over the Spring Break with a fellow teacher, before we cut away to sunny California where we see Dr. Octopus is holding a meeting with technology company called Nexus Industries, as they have expressed an interest in drawing upon his considerable knowledge in the area of cybernetics. However, Dr. Octopus soon discovers that this meeting was really a trap designed by a man seeking to duplicate the good doctor tentacles, as Dr. Octopus is caught unaware by a gas attack & rendered unconscious. We then look back in on Peter, as with some urging from Aunt May he's decided to take a vacation to California, and attempt to patch things up with Mary Jane. We then rejoin the man who betrayed Dr. Octopus, as we see his band of scientists have discovered how to duplicate the sentient tentacle technology that Dr. Octopus employs, and we see the man has got himself a modernized version of the technology, which put through a dry run by using them to rob a bank However we see this man has underestimated Dr. Octopus as Otto Octavius is able to escape the death trap that he had been placed within, and is reunited with his arms.

I'll attempt to be a bit more cautious about how I phrase my comments regarding Mary Jane's return to these pages, as last time I engaged in a rant on why I feel Mary Jane belongs in these pages I had a reader cut out that section of my review & send it to J. Michael Straczynski. This in turn resulted in an e-mail from the writer, upset that I was wrongly tarring him with the same brush I was using for the fans who view Mary Jane as an impediment that kept fans away. However, now that we've gotten our first peek at how J. Michael Straczynski handles the character of Mary Jane I'm not quite so sure I want him bringing her back, as his take on her in this issue presents her as a spiteful & generally unpleasant person to be around. Then again it wouldn't be quite so interesting if the two welcomed each other back with open arms, so I'll let him cast Mary Jane into the role of the villain just so long as it doesn't become a lasting portrayal. Now his take on Hollywood & its treatment of Mary Jane does seem to suggest that she's about ready to call it quits, so I imagine that this arc will at least end with MJ's return to New York, even if it isn't at Peter's side.

I'm happy to see that J. Michael Straczynski has decided to make Dr. Octopus the first classic villain to appear during his run on the book, as not only is the character my favorite member of Spider-Man's rogues gallery, but following on the heels of his recent showing over in the sister title "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" it's nice to see the character starting to settle back into the position of being a regular visitor to the pages of the Spider-Man books. Now I do have to question whether Dr. Octopus would so willingly describe how one could go about cutting off his control over his tentacles, but since his escape later in the issue makes it clear he wasn't being entirely truthful, I'll look upon the opening meeting as Dr. Octopus letting his enthusiasm about his genius finally being recognized almost overshadow his naturally suspicious nature. However given his last appearance in "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" one would think he would be a little gun-shy about entering into a partnership with others, as while he turned that situation around to his advantage, it should've made him wary of future offers that claimed to recognize his genius.

First off I have to say that John Romtia Jr. is going to have one kick-butt issue coming up, as his take on Dr. Octopus & the young upstart that makes his debut in this issue makes for a great preview of the visual splendor that will ensue once these two men meet once again. I mean the bank robbery scene is a solid look at the new kid on the block and the wealth of additions that he's made upon Dr. Octopus' gimmick (six arms instead of four with laser cannons mounted on at least two of them). However as impressive as this scene was, even more so is the follow-up scene that shows us Dr Octopus' escape, as we see the arms smash their way free of their steel prison, before moving to rescue their master. While I'm sure Spider-Man will become involved in this conflict, I can't wait to see John Romita Jr.'s take on these two villains as we see the new kid test his luck against the old man. As for the rest of the issue I did find his take on Mary Jane had her looking a bit too much like her teenage Ultimate counterpart, but I suspect once she's a regular part of this book, John Romita Jr. will get her back to looking like her old self.

Final Word:
The Doctor Octopus fan in me was quite happy with this issue, as J. Michael Straczynski's new villains haven't really struck me as all that memorable, so it'll be nice to see him make use of a villain with a proven track record. Now I did feel that Dr. Octopus' was tricked a bit too easily, but J. Michael Straczynski does redeem the villain later in the book with a fairly gripping escape scene, and I strongly suspect that when the dust clears the new guy is going to discover the superior technological design simply isn't enough to overcome the years of experience & the cold calculating mind that give Dr. Octopus a decide edge. As for the plot snippets involving Peter Parker, I'll admit the scene with airport security was cute, and the scene where Mary Jane discovers why she's being considered for the role was a bit obvious in its presentation of the idea, but I'm sure that it's more true to life than Hollywood would be willing to admit. It's a shame that the rest of Mary Jane's scenes cast her in such a unlikeable light though.

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