Current Reviews


Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure #3

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

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

Publisher: Marvel

As Doctor Octopus continues to play upon the ego of the frustrated Daily Bugle photographer Jeffrey Haight, we start to see the true goal of Doctor Octopus' plan is beginning to emerge, as he knows Jeffrey unknowingly has access to the mean that will provide his escape. However it takes one more frustrating experience where he fails to capture a good action shot of Spider-Man during a battle with Mysterio before Jeffrey agrees to help Doctor Octopus.

Okay I get the idea that Jeffrey Haight is a frustrated artist who looks to be putty in Doctor Octopus' hands, and to this end this miniseries is acting as a pretty effective display of the good doctor's formidable intellect at work. However, the simple fact of the matter is that the material isn't moving in a direction that looks all that unexpected, as the path Jeffrey Haight is moving down is clearly laid out, and the character has become a little too easy to predict what he's going to do next, which results in a rather boring character. Now I do like the idea that someone has noticed that Peter Parker seems to have uncanny luck when it comes to snapping photos of Spider-Man, and while I'm sure this theory has been presented in the past I did enjoy the matter-a-fact explanation that Doctor Octopus offers up for Parker's exceptional luck. Still, this issue expects us to invest out interest in a character who is easily manipulated, and the hoops that the story has the character jumping though are starting to feel a bit hard to accept, as there's only so many times one can watch Jeffrey Haight trying to get the perfect action shot, before it gets a little difficult to believe that a camera that has mobility, and a human eye to guide what shots it's taking wouldn't be able to snap a better shot than Peter's camera webbed to the ceiling. Still this miniseries is offering up a fun tour of Spider-Man's classic rogues, as each issue offers up a battle with a different baddie.

As for the art, Staz Johnson's work is at its best when he's offering up the action sequences, as this issue's battle between Spider-Man and Mysterio looks fantastic, with the army of zombies that acts as the opening visual to the scene being particularly impressive. The smoke and mirror effects that Mysterio employs are also well presented. However, most of the issue is centered around the talking heads scenes between Doctor Octopus and Jeffrey Haight, and it is here that the art isn't quite so impressive, as while the art has the basic emotions covered, for the most part the art seems to have trouble conveying the more ominous qualities of Doctor Octopus. I mean there's a one page shot near the end of the issue, that I suspect is suppose to sell Doctor Octopus' evil nature, and frankly I found the piece a bit flat and unimpressive. The final page shot of the tentacles does have a nice ominous feel to it though.

Final Word:
On one hand I like the underlying premise of this miniseries, as Brian K. Vaughan has latched on to the idea that Peter Parker's uncanny luck when it comes to snapping photos of Spider-Man in action was bound to attract some attention, and by making a rival photographer the centerpiece of this miniseries, he's set up a fairly interesting plot dynamic. However, other than act as a fairly solid display of Doctor Octopus' ability to exploit the weaknesses of a character this issue is taking far too long to get where it's going. Now I'll admit I'm a bit impatient when it comes to the new Marvel writing style of dragging out a story so that it can fill a trade paperback but this marks the first time I've found myself noticing this same trend looks to have appeared in a miniseries. I mean, the little Spider-Man versus the classic villain of the month are a lot of fun, but the material involving Jeffrey Haight is getting a bit predictable, largely because he's jumping through the same hoops that he did in the previous issues.

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