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Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Out Of Reach #3

Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Colin Mitchell
Artist: Derec Aucoin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
As the young genius and Doctor Octopus enter in an uneasy partnership we see the two are busy making plans to break into the super-villain proof vault that the young man designed. However after they pull off this job we see the young man turns his attention to proving how useful he can be to Doctor Octopus by increasing the villain's power levels. However Doctor Octopus pulls out of this questionable experiment, and the arrival of Spider-Man acts to break up this partnership.

The Good:
I'm a big fan of Doctor Octopus so I rather enjoy the sheer volume of stories that are currently flooding the market in Marvel bid to capitalize on what looks like the character's spectacular big screen debut. Now of the projects this miniseries is probably my least favorite, but it's still a fairly enjoyable reading experience, as of all the projects to is the only one that's taking the character in a new direction, as Colin Mitchell has decided to introduce a character that will essentially act as the good doctor's protégé. Now the book isn't doing all that great a job of developing the relationship as we're over halfway done and I'm still having difficulty accepting the idea that these two characters would be drawn together, as I truly don't believe mutual respect is a word that either of these character's understands. However I do like the idea that book is trying something different with the character, and in the final pages of the issue I got a sense that the old Doctor Octopus would be making a return to the story, as his rejection of the power amplification process was a well done sequence, and it nicely reflects the character's established personality, regarding his obsessive need to be the smartest person in the room. There's also a fairly solid little scene where we see even after they've gotten the money, Doctor Octopus is already moving on to his next project, which nicely leaves the sense that the money was never the point of that exercise.

There are moments when the art looks a bit too open, and the level of detail is a bit disappointing, but for the most part Derec Aucoin turns is a solid issue. Doctor Octopus is a visually imposing figure with his continually moving tentacles. The art also nicely reflects the annoying quality of the young genius, as he continually blows his own horn, and the art does a pretty nice job reflecting the sheer eagerness of the character. The action scenes are also visually striking, as the panel where Doctor Octopus rips the safe door off is a very cool looking display of power. The arrival of Spider-Man is also quite impressive when he makes his arrival in the book, as the art delivers a very solid shot of the character flipping his way into the lab. The pulsing energies of the experiment to increase Doctor Octopus’s power are also quite nice, though I suspect most of the credit for this would go to James Rochell, who delivers a wonderfully vibrant looking issue.

The Bad:
This issue would work far better if the book had taken time to firmly
establish the reasons why the boy genius Brigham Fontaine was so willing to join forces with Doctor Octopus, as right now the character is poorly motivated, and this in turn makes it a bit difficult to understand why he's essentially throwing away any chance at a future career, by teaming up with a wanted felon. What's more Doctor Octopus has a long history of turning on his allies, as like all good super-villains his primary interests are purely self-centered. In fact one has to opening wonder why Doctor Octopus is letting this kid tag along after he's managed to break into the vault as the opening page's declaration that Doctor Octopus is looking for a son displays a fairly poor understanding of the character. In fact if anything Otto has a long history of lashing out at anyone he believes threatens his position as the top dog in the room, and it's this aspect of his personality that has me continually surprised that he's being so charitable when Brigham Fontaine continually flaunts his superior intelligence, as the central driving quality of the character's villainous personality is being continually challenged. I also found it a bit difficult to accept Doctor Octopus would trust anyone but himself to put together a device that would increase his power levels, and as such I was rather pleased to see his rejection of the process before it was completed.

Daddy Dearest:
The idea of Doctor Octopus accepting this young genius as his protégé is an interesting idea on the surface, and I think I'd be more willing to embrace it if the writer had done a better job of building a relationship between Otto and this young man, as right now the two seem to be little more that competing geniuses, who do little more that get on one another nerves, and Doctor Octopus has never struck me as a character who would put up with such a continued sense of disrespect. Now I will concede that the book does have Otto reacting to the young man's gloating, as he slaps him around a bit with his tentacles, but frankly the book needs to make a greater effort to establish why Otto even bothers to keep the kid around after he's broken into the vault. I mean the excuse that he finds him useful would seem to fly in the face of the character's established personality of believing himself to be the brightest bulb in the box, and as such to accept help from such a young rival could be seen as an admission of weakness.



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