Current Reviews


Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Out Of Reach #2

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

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

Publisher: Marvel Comics

As Doctor Octopus goes to ground with his captive we soon see Otto is able to spot himself in this young inventor. As Brigham Fortaine expresses his frustration at a world that doesn't fully appreciate his genius, we see Doctor Octopus is able to convince Brigham to help him rob the vault that he designed. However, while Spider-Man is able to intrude upon this newly formed alliance, we see Brigham is quick to rejoin Doctor Octopus at his new hideout when the dust settles.

Doctor Octopus needs a sidekick/protégé about as much as Spider-Man needs a suit of battle armor, and frankly this miniseries introduction of a young genius who has apparently become enamored with the idea of being Doctor Octopus' successor strikes me as a rather poor idea. Now I'll give Colin Mitchell every opportunity to sell me on the idea, but this issue doesn't have me holding out much hope as the character left me a bit annoyed by how often the story was dragged away from the more exciting material to center upon this new character. What's more there's a scene in this issue that I'm guessing is supposed to act as the explanation to the readers why this character would agree to aid Doctor Octopus in the commission of a crime, and I found to scene to be quite unconvincing. I mean, I realize that scientist will often lose sight of the bigger picture when they get caught up in a discussion with a fellow intellectual, but this scene has the character transforming from a terrified victim to a willing partner within a ridiculously short span. As for Spider-Man's role in the story there’s a nice bit of action when he has to avoid a barrage of metal that is being drawn toward him, and the battle with Doctor Octopus later in the issue is quite exciting, but these scenes are derailed by the issue's insistence that we invest our interest in the misguided young inventor.

As for the art, when the book is centered around the action sequences I'm very impressed with Keron Grant's art as it's a high energy style that lends itself quite well to the speed at which Doctor Octopus' arms move as well as the agility displays we see from Spider-Man. However the scenes where Doctor Octopus is suppose to convey an sense of danger I found the art to be a bit lacking, as the scene where he threatens the young inventor, I found the terrified victim looked to be on the verge of nodding off. Still, the sequence where Spider-Man is caught up in a hail of metal, and his escape later in the issue from the collapsing tunnel are both visually exciting moments. Still, the rather open backgrounds, and the highly animated expressions give this issue a somewhat cartoonish feel that makes the darker moments of the story ineffective.

Final Word:
My enjoyment of this miniseries is somewhat undone by the simple fact that I don't like the idea of Doctor Octopus being saddled with a successor, as super-villains simply don't do sidekicks. I mean we already went through one variation of this idea when Doctor Octopus was replaced by a female version of the character, and I'm not all that eager for a repeat performance, especially with such a paper thin character being set up as the man who will eventually fill Otto's shoes. In fact every time the issue focused its attention on this character I found myself growing annoyed by the idea, and how it was taking panel time away from Doctor Octopus. It also doesn't help matters much that the entire evil plan that Doctor Octopus is working on is a simple bank job, as no matter how complex one makes the vault, there's only so much excitement one can draw from such a familiar feeling plot device. In the end this is a fairly uninspired effort that is further hindered by an idea that I'm finding difficult to accept, let alone enjoy.

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