I might be biased in talking about Amazing Spider-Man #84. Not in a conflict of interest way, it’s just that Doctor Octopus is my favorite Spider-Man villain. That means that I’m going to be extra hard on a Doc Ock story if it’s bad and enjoy it a bit more if it’s good. Well, which way did this issue go?
After Doc Ock teamed with May Parker several issues ago, this confrontation was inevitable. Hell is coming to Beyond, and Ben Reilly is trapped in the middle. This issue comes from Cody Ziglar, Paco Medina, Epsen Grundetjern, and Joe Caramagna.
When Otto Octavius teamed with May Parker several issues ago, he learned that the Beyond Corporation has stolen the work he created while he had stolen Peter Parker’s life. Now he wants it back, particularly a special little black box. The only thing standing in his way… is Ben Reilly.
Ziglar was the writer of my favorite story in the Beyond era to date, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. He writes this as more of a Doc Ock story than a Spider-Man story, and it’s all the better for it. Though Ben is still a huge part of the story, we understand Otto’s motivations and methods, and it definitely helps us as the reader be much more sympathetic towards him.
Ziglar also writes the Ben/Janine relationship better than his colleagues have to date as well. They had great chemistry as a couple, and while the other Beyond writers have shown her as supportive, he sold it really well. By giving them a context where they were doing more than just talking about his day as Spidey, it added some depth and layers to the relationship.
I really enjoyed seeing Medina’s work in this issue. He’s grown so much as an artist, and I like his softer lines on his figures lately. He does some fantastic work with the characters interacting with one another in the slower moments, conveying the shock of the Beyond staff seeing Otto walk into their office, and the genuine connection between Ben and Janine on their brief date night.
His action scenes were mostly very good. His layouts convey a great sense of dynamism, and mostly has a very good sense of flow through the panels and pages. The only downside to his pencils is that Spider-Man feels strangely stiff, like he’s not quite sure how to depict his bouncing and bounding agility. It’s not bad, but just a little off.
I don’t see Grundetjern’s work often, but it’s always good. They use slightly softer colors to match the lighter inks on the page and that works extremely well with the flow Medina uses through the issue. Caramagna has been an unsung hero of this run. Not only do his letters have a great flow, but he takes a fairly wordy issue and is able to make the dialogue and captions flow really well without making it stand out over the art.
This is an incredibly well-rounded issue, but it’s also a great return for Otto Octavius to the Spider-Man universe. It’s about damn time.
Amazing Spider-Man #84 is available now from Marvel Comics.
Otto Octavius makes a splashy return in one of the best issues of the Beyond era to date. The writing is sharp and the art nails Doc Ock, though Spidey is a bit stiff. All-in-all though, it’s a winner!