Otto Octavius is back, and he’s going to use the scientific method to be a hero.  But does he really know what a hero is?  Your Major Spoilers review of Superior Octopus #1 awaits!

SUPERIOR OCTOPUS #1

Writer: Christos Gage/Jed MacKay
Penciler: Mike Hawthorne/Mark Bagley
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger/Craig Yeung
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire/Dono Sanchez-Almar & Protobunker
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: October 3, 2018

Previously in Superior Octopus: After a mind-transfer, Otto Octavius took over the body of Spider-Man and actually made improvements to Peter Parker’s life.  That ended badly, with Ock dead, but not before he took on Spider-Man’s responsibility and mission in earnest.  Now back from the dead in a cloned body, “Elliot Tolliver” is getting past his alliance with Hydra to get on with the business of heroism using his brilliance and refusal to compromise.

AN INTERESTING TAKE

In San Francisco, Marvel’s go-to second city, a new hero has arisen!  The Superior Octopus has arrived and his first order of business is The Night Shift, up to their old criminal ways once again.  Ock not only defeats them, he talks them out of their villainous theivin’ ways, instead hiring them to act as his eyes and ears in the criminal element.  Returning to Horizon Labs, where he works as Dr. Elliot Tolliver, we find that much of the Superior Spider-Man supporting cast is back in these pages, including Max Modell, Horizon’s head honcho and Anna Maria Marconi, whom Otto Octavius loved, then romanced as Peter Parker.  In an interesting turn of events, “Tolliver” is aware of and even ashamed of the way he took advantage of her with his false identity, and the moral questions are clearly something he is wrestling with.  Also among his problems, the public’s knowledge of his actions as part of Hydra during Secret Empire, which he hand-waves away as mind-control.  Of course, Hydra itself still wants him back, leading to a confrontation in his lair/hero headquarters with Arnim Zola and a clone of The Gorgon, Hydra’s most dangerous warrior.  It’s a confrontation that goes poorly, with The Superior Octopus turned to stone and shattered!

GOING BACK TO THE WELL?

It doesn’t take, thanks to Otto’s purloining of Zola’s personality-transfer equipment and a little boost from The Inheritors tech.  That second part is a bigger problem, as the backup story reveals that by activating that equipment, Otto has opened the door for Morlun and his people to return, thus igniting Spider-Geddon.  All in all, I like the story of Superior Octopus #1 and the supporting cast is pretty cool, but I worry that this book is going to turn into a rehash of Superior Spider-Man, with Otto once again failing to learn his lesson.  It’d be much better to see him come clean and actually take on a hero role in earnest, but I’m not holding my breath.  The art in this issue is solid in both stories, with Mike Hawthorne making Superior Octopus both heroic and unsettling in the main story (his battle with Gorgon is really well-thought-out, thought the reveal of Otto’s survival is unclear at first) and a beautiful backup story featuring the Web Warriors and Spider-UK/Captain Britain really shining, thanks to Mark Bagley.  The Night Shift is nowhere near cool, but Hawthorne and von Grawbadger make them look that way, which is a startling bit of artistic achievement.

BOTTOM LINE: NOT SOLD ON SPIDER-GEDDON, BUT THIS IS OKAY

I feel like it’s way too soon to launch into another universal crossover nonsense event, with Spider-Verse barely in the rearview mirror, but the positioning of Superior Octopus on the West Coast, trying once again to make himself a hero is workable.  Superior Octopus #1 is well-drawn, with a few difficult-to-follow storytelling moments in the first tale and breathtaking art paired with a problematic story in the second, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I think that this book and its creative team has potential, if they can avoid the pitfalls of endless crossover mania and avoid retelling Superior Spidey with a green costume.

[taq_review]

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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