Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artists: Humberto Ramos (p), Wayne Faucher (i)
As Peter returns home to his apartment to discover his neighbors have descended upon his apartment, we see his initial dismay turns into delight when their continued presence manages to induced a physical reaction from the vegetative Flash. We then join Spider-Man later that evening as he encounters his longtime enemy Dr. Octopus while he's on his nightly patrol, and Peter learns Dr. Octopus has a new evil plan to rid himself of his accused enemy.
With Spider-Man 2 on the horizon it makes sense that Marvel would be pushing Dr. Octopus on the readers, and with two miniseries, plus his arrival in this arc, not to mention his increased presence over in the Ultimate books, Dr. Octopus is almost outdoing the overexposure levels that lead to Venom's downfall in the 1990s. However, speaking as a Dr. Octopus fan (he's my all-time favorite Spider-Man villain, and a mainstay in the top five of my favorite villains list), I have to say that I believe Dr. Octopus is a far stronger character than Venom ever was, and with the movie coming out I can't imagine the character is going to drop off the face of the Earth for the better part of the next decade. Now this arc is his first appearance in the regular Spider-Man books since a quick little arc that J. Michael Straczynski offered up about half a year back, and the character has undergone a few changes, with the main difference being the character has revamped his look to match the look we'll be seeing in the movie. The other difference is that the new tentacle looking arms look very much to be new & improved, as Dr. Octopus claims they are ten times stronger than their predecessors, and Spider-Man also finds he's having to work harder to avoid them which suggests he's also increased their speed. This issue also offers up a Dr. Octopus who looks cool, calm and collected, which adds to the character's threat potential considerably, and the request that the good doctor makes of his longtime enemy sets up an interesting game.
As for the art, Humberto Ramos is a talented artist with a sizeable fanbase, and a highly energetic style, so I have to say I'm glad to see him as this book's regular artist, and as we enter his sixth straight issue I also have to give him credit for being a fairly reliable artist, though I do believe he already made this point himself by being the only member of the Cliffhanger trio that was able to deliver a monthly comic. In any event, his art lends itself quite well to the character of Dr. Octopus, as while I remain a bit unimpressed with the new movie inspired look, which I feel looks a little too generic, the art does do a wonderful job conveying the speed of these arms, and the impact shot when one manages to tag Spider-Man is truly wince inducing. The art also does some nice work showing the passage of time with Peter's new roommates, as the room becomes progressively messier.
Dr. Octopus arrives in this arc, and Paul Jenkins does a pretty fair job of presenting the character as a legitimate threat, with the big ultimatum that Dr. Octopus makes being a switch from his standard method of operation, though the more I think about it the more it makes sense. I mean why wouldn't Dr. Octopus takes steps to insure Spider-Man was removed from the picture before moving on with his villainous activities, as in a city packed with super-heroes, Dr. Octopus has displayed an uncanny ability to have his master-plans foiled by everyone's favorite neighborhood webslinger. Now I'm not sure how he plans on making Spider-Man jump through the hoop he wants him to but it should be a lot of fun watching him carry it off, and Spider-Man's efforts to avoid making this disastrous move makes for an intriguing setup. We also get a bit of forward progress on the Flash Thompson subplot, which looks encouraging, and the supporting players that play a role in this baby-step toward his recovery are more fun than I expected them to be when they were first introduced.
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