The Return of Doctor Octopus
The fall of Doctor Octopus was written in the cards early on. Peter Parker is such a popular icon of the comic book industry that there was no way that he could forever be erased from the universe without a fight. Those of us who had been long term Spider-Fans may have been growing a bit tired of “Puny Parker”: and his whiny ways, but there is no way that a franchise giant like that could ever be permanently destroyed.
When I heard that Amazing Spider-Man was ending with issue 700 and the death of Peter Parker… I was pessimistic. Too many times have I seen the death of a character only to have them return within a year or so, triumphantly proclaiming that they were never really dead, just “pining for the fjords” as in Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” Sketch. The only question was how to make him seem dead and how to tastefully bring him back.We certainly did not want another Death of Superman event that lasted forever and a day, nor would anyone even care about another X-Men-like death where they just come back a little younger or in a different part of the world or from another dimension or from Heaven or Hell… so what was left?
For those of you who have not been following Spider-Man for the last few years, I am probably going to spoil a few things. Doctor Octopus died. At least his body died. Before that happened, Otto Octavius rigged up a cool way to download his mind and switch it with Peter Parker’s, so that, in effect, Otto was in Parker’s body and Parker was in Otto’s. When the body of Doctor Octopus died in the streets of New York, in the arms of Spider-Man, it was Peter Parker who died and Otto Octavius who was reborn as the Superior Spider-Man. I cheered.
The next 30+ issues of Superior Spider-Man had me hooked. Every time a new issue arrived I wanted to know in what way Otto was going to make Peter’s life his own. Whether breaking it off with Mary Jane for good, finishing his doctorate, starting his own company, or getting a new girlfriend in the form of Anna Maria Marconi, these adventures were a breath of fresh air to the tired old Parker we had seen over the last several years. What could go wrong?
As with any super-villain, ego tends to overreach ability. In Otto’s case, his ability to exceed what Peter had done as Spider-Man was instantly obvious as he began to use the nano-technology to create devices and tools to help with patrolling the city. Perhaps creating his own Spider-base in the bay and blackmailing Jonah Jameson to get his way with the city was a little over the top, but Otto Octavius wanted to prove himself to be the better Spider-Man. For a time, he was.
In the end, as the city crumbled around him, and his technology failed because he could not accept that he had failed to account for something, Otto Octavius stepped out of the role of villain and even the role of Spider-Man, and into the role of hero as he gave up the new life that he had created from the remnants of Parker’s, and allowed the “better” man to take back his life. I felt like the end of this was all very rushed and without a lot of reason behind what was happening, but more like someone said “Okay! Last call! You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.” And then Peter was back.
This is not what I wanted to talk about, because this is the past. This was an important time for the character of Spider-Man, and I feel that many things have been put into play that can have some severe impacts. One of those we have seen in his relationship with the Black Cat. As Otto, he had her arrested and sent to jail. Now, in the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man, she is out to crush his life. Electro is another casualty of Otto’s ego. In trying to control the Sinister Six, Octavius scrambled Electro’s ability to control his own powers. The results have been a massive prison explosion/escape and a tenement fire that nearly killed several homeless people. This should be some interesting fallout to deal with.
The real focus, for me at least, since her appearance in Superior Spider-Man #4/#5, has been Anna Maria Marconi. She is a doctor. She is an amazing cook. She is a genius on par with Peter Parker. But most of all, she is person with a form of dwarfism, a little person, an LP. This, for me, was incredibly refreshing. Most of the portrayals of LP’s in film and comics have been as either circus performers or some form of comic relief. Actors like Peter Dinklage have risen in their stardom with his serious roles in Game of Thrones and X-Men: Days of Future Past. I think it is awesome to see this character, a love interest, a scientist, and a strong female lead to rival Mary Jane Watson, portrayed as an LP.
One thing that I want to mention is why this is important to me. Sure, I was a fan of Billy Barty, and his work for the LP community was nothing short of amazing. I love Willow and Game of Thrones, but this runs deeper for me. I have a daughter who turns 10 years old this month who has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and the character of Anna Maria, and characters like her, help to show that even though she is different, she can be strong and accepted. When I first read about Anna Maria, Dulcinea, my daughter, was like “Does she have dwarfism?” It was a cool thing for her to see this character. And it is with trepidation, now that Peter Parker is back in his own skull, that I read each new issue of Amazing Spider-Man, because I want to see her character continue to play a big role and not be degraded to comic relief. And then… I had an epiphany.
The reason I titled this article “The Return of Doctor Octopus” is because that is what I want from Amazing Spider-Man. Dan Slott has written a great run on this series so far, and I hope that he reads through this review of his run and gets to this part of the article. I want Anna Maria Marconi to become the new Doctor Octopus. She has the experience with the technology. As of the latest issue, she is now finishing the work that Octavius began with the nanites. And, depending on how she works through the fact that Otto Octavius is gone, “killed” by Peter Parker, we have the perfect drive for revenge. This could even begin with her taking up the mantle to be a helper to Spider-Man, a partner, when something goes wrong. On top of all of this, she now knows Peter’s secret identity. I think this would be a truly amazing turn of events within this series.
Thank you for sticking with me, I know this has been a long ramble. A lot of these things have been in my head since reading the last couple of issues of Amazing Spider-Man, back in December 2012. Maybe I am way off base here and Peter and Anna Maria will continue the relationship where it broke off when Otto gave up the ghost. If so, I am cool with that too, but I would much rather see her become something big. Pun intended.