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Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Out of Reach #5

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Colin Mitchell
Artist: Derec Aucoin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
As Brigham and Doctor Octopus continue their bid to turn the young scientist into a super powerful entity, we see Spider-Man is unable to convince Brigham to leave the path that he's traveling down. As their next stop takes them to a chemical plant where Brigham is immersed in a vat of chemicals, we see the final stage is the nuclear power plant, where a dose of radiation will presumably omplete his transformation. However, Spider-Man is able to reach Doctor Octopus, who stops the experiment.

The Good:
The story ends well, as it manages to tie up all its various loose ends and for the most part it did a pretty effective job of getting all its pieces back into place. The issue also delivers a couple entertaining moments, as I enjoyed the scene where Doctor Octopus simply tosses Brigham into the vat of chemicals as there is something rather endearing about the slapdash quality of the experiment to give Brigham the ultimate powers. I mean I'm not entirely sure that it's intentional, but Brigham's adventures in this issue act as a fun homage to the various ways that heroes and villains gain their superpowers, as we have the massive electrical jolt, followed by the bath in unknown chemicals, and than this is all capped off with a visit to a nuclear power station for a healthy dose of radiation. I also had to smile at the book's insistence that Brigham was perfectly normal on that final page, simply because Doctor Octopus stopped the intense radioactive exposure before it would've completed Brigham's final transformation. The issue also delivers a couple solid little moments like its cute spin on the classic Spider-Man trapped under a ton of rubble sequence, or the scene where Doctor Octopus flashes back on his own accident, and the actions that he takes after he flashes back on this time in his life made for a powerful emotional revelation about the character. There's also some fairly exciting bits of action as Brigham's explosive display of power at the chemical plant was quite impressive, as was the scene where Spider-Man's caught in the grip of all four arms.

Derec Aucoin's turn is a fairly impressive effort this time out, as this is an action intensive affair and he really steps up to deliver some truly memorable visuals in this issue. I mean the shot of Brigham delivering his explosive attack in the chemical plant looks fantastic, and there's a wonderful sense of urgency to the shot of Spider-Man caught in the grip of all four tentacles. The issue also has some solid little visuals like the series of panels where Spider-Man is cast aside by Doctor Octopus, while the villain openly wonders why he doesn't simply kill the unconscious hero. I also enjoyed the panels that pay homage to the scene where Spider-Man is buried under the rubble, though I will say that the art could've done a better job of selling the idea that he fell through the floor. The art also has some problems with its placement of its characters, as there's a scene where it looks like Brigham has been sealed inside a chamber, and then he's suddenly being attacked by Spider-Man, who is shown arriving after the chamber was sealed.

The Bad:
I have to say I found it difficult to get overly worked up over this issue as it's rather conventional in its delivery of its big climax. Now I'll give the book credit for delivering the moment where Doctor Octopus flashes back to the moment of his accident, and that his memory moves him to stop Brigham from undergoing a similar experience, but this moment occurs so late in the issue that the fallout from this choice feels incredibly rushed. I also found myself a bit disappointed by the limited role that Doctor Octopus played in this miniseries, as he's forced to take a back-seat to Brigham who in the end wasn't really all the well developed as a character. Brigham's motivations seem to shift from moment to moment, that I was never quite able to get a grasp on the character, and what drives his actions. This in turn left me disappointed that Doctor Octopus was forced to play second fiddle to a character who never emerges as anything more than a plot device that drives the story. In fact my biggest problem with the string of Doctor Octopus projects that have been unleashed upon the readers lately is the lack of focus on Otto Octavius. I mean making him a secondary plot element behind another character who was created to drive the story simply doesn't feel as rewarding as if they had made the good doctor the central focus. In the end the story also feels a bit empty as I wasn't convinced that Brigham's comments to the media were genuine, as this entire miniseries has presented the character as highly ambitious, and prone to lash out at a world that he felt wasn't giving him the respect that he felt he was due.

Splish, Splash, I Was Taking A Bath:
Not exactly the home run that would've convinced me that this was an enjoyable reading experience, as Colin Mitchell's miniseries suffers from the simple fact that the character that he placed at the center of the story never really emerged as anything better than a plot device. I mean as a character, Brigham never comes across as all that sympathetic, so I found it difficult to care overly much what happens to him, and the final page of the issue also feels a bit isappointing as it seems to be asking us to believe that Brigham is cured of his evil behavior, when the rest of the issue had been selling us on the idea that the character was bound and determined to become a evil entity. I mean asking us to feel sorry for Brigham is asking readers to make a shift in emotions that the writing has done nothing to justify, and to a certain extant the fact that brigham looks to have gotten off portrayed as a victim of the evil Doctor Octopus felt like the story ended too soon. Now this doesn't mean I'd welcome another issue, or a return appearance by Brigham, but rather it's disappointing to see Colin Mitchell decided to end the issue without giving us some sign that Brigham had actually advanced as a character.

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