Octo-Spidey’s ongoing quest to hunt down former Sinister Six members brings him into conflict with Mysterio, Punisher and a pleasantly surprising mystery villain.
Avenging Spider-Man #22
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: David Lopez
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Paolo Riveria
Spoilers to follow after the break:
The Plot: Octo-Spidey is bored by mundane street crimes when he encounters “Mysterion” robbing a bank. Ock attacks him in a rage due to Mysterio’s betrayal of him in “Ends of the Earth.” Ock soon realizes this is an imposter Mysterio and gets even more enraged, when suddenly Punisher arrives and starts firing on them both in an effort to assassinate Mysterio.
Mysterion escapes while Octo-Spidey and Punisher fight. Punisher wins and advises Spidey to turn back on being ruthless before it consumes him.
When Ock recovers he uses a spider-tracer to track Mysterion, who is calling the benefactor who gave him Mysterio’s costume in a panic over two different heroes trying to kill him. Ock hacks in and traces the phone call which leads him to the original Hobgoblin! This is a pretty cool plot twist until Octo-Spidey wins their fight in two pages in a pretty casual manner by webbing Hobby’s Glider out from under him and then webbing him up as he falls.
Punisher shows up again to finish off Mysterio. Octo-Spidey intercedes and then takes down both Punisher and Mysterion. He webs Punisher to a wall and warns him to stay out of his way from now on, which causes Punisher to decide he approves of Spidey’s more ruthless attitude after all. In the hubbub Hobgoblin escapes and the story ends with Octo-Spidey imprisoning Mysterion alongside the other Sinister Six members in his undersea lab.
Critical Thoughts: I didn’t like this as much as some of the other issues. Ock’s characterization is more uneven than in past issues. I get him wanting to kill Mysterio for betraying him last time they teamed up. Seeing him lose his temper at first and more or less forgetting the Spidey facade in his rage was interesting to see, especially since this Mysterio is too much of a noob to have the slightest clue what is going on. But then him wanting to kill Mysterion for impersonating Mysterio rings false to me. I get Yost is going for irony in Ock being mad at someone for impersonating “one of the greatest villains on the planet” when Ock himself is impersonating Peter, but that doesn’t give Ock a valid rationale for being upset particularly since there have been two or three other Mysterio impersonators in the past. Then after we spend all issue with Ock and Punisher talking about how he is more ruthless now, Ock does a complete about-face and saves this yahoo from Punisher. I don’t see why Ock would care if Punisher killed this guy since it isn’t the original Mysterio. It seems to me Ock would prioritize that capturing Hobgoblin is worth letting Punisher kill some two-bit nobody, especially when they give him a thought balloon admiring Punisher’s efficiency in fighting crime when he first showed up. I guess Ock could save him just so Hobgoblin doesn’t catch on that he’s not the original Spidey, but if that was his only motivation it should be clear in the thought balloons.
Speaking of Punisher they have him reference what Octo-Spidey did to Massacre and Jester as going too far. I don’t read much Punisher but the last time I saw him in a book was Civil War when he was shooting Jester in the head, so I don’t see it likely that he cares a whit about what Spidey is doing to the Jester.
I liked Hobgoblin showing up. It really was a pleasant surprise, especially since he’s been pretty underused since his heyday. But it ended up being just another uneven episode in this story. On the first page of their fight Ock builds him up as a serious threat in the narration, and then a page later he casually beats him. Yes, Hobgoblin escapes in the end and it seems to be setting the table for a bigger story with him funding other super villains later, but if that is the end-goal then having Ock win their first encounter so easily seems like a misstep if you trying to build interest for a future showdown.
Also Ock uses the word “superior” in this story roughly 6,000 times. I don’t mind that being part of his motivation as Spidey but I don’t need him to actually say it every other sentence.
The one positive I’d like to highlight is that the action in general, while somewhat rushed, is well-rendered in the art. There’s like five different fights in this thing and it is generally clear what tactics are being used and why in each one of them. Even Mysterion has a very clear strategy throughout despite being deliberately designed as an ineffectual villain.