Spider-Man Unlimited #3
Issue(s): Spider-Man Unlimited #3
That pain you are feeling is you - along with young Otto - getting hit over the head repeatedly by Otto's mom's hatred of manual labor. And Otto internalizes it.
When i read this, i was 100% sure that this was a line from Amazing Spider-Man #3 that Tom DeFalco was milking to death. And it does seem to be the sort of thing that a 1960s scientist - especially a super-scientist villain who made mechanical arms for himself - would say, but it's not from the original story. So kudos to DeFalco for coming up with some authentic sounding Silver Age dialogue. But i would have liked it better if Doc Ock had just said it because he was an arrogant scientist, not because he had daddy issues and an overbearing mommy.
I also want to acknowledge that if it were Kurt Busiek or even J.M. DeMatteis doing this sort of thing, i'd probably be a little more receptive. But i don't think i'm being inconsistent in saying that this sort of thing should be left to really talented writers, not mediocre ones. And even then i think we've had enough of interrogating the childhoods of various super-villains. It's been done. There are other ways to deconstruct these characters. As for Doctor Octopus, we know why he's a villain. He was a brilliant scientist who was caught in a nuclear accident and became deranged. That's enough. If there's anything to explore about his character, it's why half the time he's running gangland operations and the other half operating more or less solo as a super-scientist. I'd like to get more into his mind, learn how he recruits goons when he needs them, understand what makes him decide to get into turf wars with Hammerhead some of the time and build giant bombs to blackmail the city other times. We don't need to get into his childhood for any of that.
Anyway, the story here is that Doc Ock is on a rampage, so Joe Robertson calls the guy who is in charge of keeping the on-file obituaries up to date to make sure that they've got something to run in case Ock is killed. That's where we're getting the info on his childhood. In the course of that, we learn that Otto briefly had a girlfriend. They broke up because of Otto's smothering mother. But (i mean i'm kind of spoiling the ending but it's that much of a surprise) Otto has now learned that she's contracted AIDS, so he's been raiding facilities to get samples and equipment to try to cure AIDS. Spider-Man is of course unaware of what's going on and tries to stop him, but Doc Ock manages to hold him off while he works on his cure.
However, the cure fails.
Doc Ock allows himself to be taken back to prison without any fuss.
I just finished praising Kurt Busiek, but the second story in this issue is his follow-up on one of his lesser contributions, Corona.
We learn that after she last appeared, Spider-Man tried to get help for her, but couldn't find any.
I mean i don't want to be a dick about it, but it doesn't seem like he tried that hard. I don't know what Pym's problem is, but both the Beast and Mr. Fantastic just weren't available at the moment. It's been a while since the last Corona story, and one of them must have been free at some point. Granted Spidey is busy appearing in like 90 books a month, so i guess i can't fault him for lack of a persistent follow-through.
So custody of Corona defaulted back to her evil brother, Cedric Forrester. He put a torture-inducing control device in her, theoretically to keep her from rebelling while he was trying to cure her. But he now claims that the Silvermane mob have strong-armed him into giving the controller to them. However, it eventually comes out that he's actually sold her to them. Spidey has to fight Corona until he can break the control...
...and then convince her to not go lethal.
Kurt Busiek has a gift for dialogue that makes this readable, but... well... A blurb in the end tells us if we want to see more of Corona we should write in to let Marvel know, and i don't think anyone did, because Corona only has one more appearance in a crowd scene in a 2004 issue of Marvel Knights Spider-Man (and honestly even finding her in that isn't easy).
The final story reminds us that Annex and his scientist friend Hillman Barto exist.
He fights some armored goons. One thing we learn is that he's vulnerable to having his signal blocked.
But he's able to overcome that and stop the goons.
Unlike Corona, Annex will appear again, and (as a blurb tells us) will even get his own miniseries. Which boggles my mind.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: In Lethal Foes of Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus said that he had "urgent business" waiting for him here, so let's not make him wait too long.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAndrew 'Jock' Jackson, Annex, Ben Urich, Cedric Forrester, Corona, Doctor Octopus, Fireworks Fielstein, Hillman Barto, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Marcus Stone, Rigger Ruiz, Spider-Man
Dan Slott will reuse those scenes from Doc Ock's childhood almost beat for beat in Superior Spiderr-Man, and they work just fine there. A good writer and a good artist (and modern coloring) make all the difference in the world.
Posted by: Andrew | March 28, 2017 8:18 PM
Afraid I'm going to have to disagree on this one. This look at Ock's past is one of my all-time favorite Spidey stories.
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 28, 2017 8:24 PM
This issue raised a major question- how old was Octopus when he first met Peter? Ock's mother was stated to have died at the relatively young age of 57 three weeks before Ock had the accident. But if Ock's mom was 57, then how old was Octopus? He could easily have been 25 when he first fought Peter. DeFalco seemed to think that Ditko intended Ock to be fat and ugly, not middle-aged.
Posted by: Michael | March 28, 2017 9:35 PM
@Michael: I would just assume that Mrs. Octavius was very young when she had Otto; perhaps 17 or somewhere around there, giving us a 40-year old Octopus.
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 28, 2017 10:24 PM
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