Doc Ock back from the dead, as seen in Clone Conspiracy #1?! Wow, it’s almost like I don’t care! But, wait, says Brad! You’re contractually obligated to review this issue! Drat, I say! I must finish this review or I lose access to the Crawlspace-mobile! To the Critic Cave!
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #20
“Spider-Man’s Superior” (AKA Slott’s Doc Ock Fanfiction)
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Jason Keith
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
Our story is essentially one big flashback explaining how Otto Octavius came back from the grave. We learn that after escaping from Parker Industries in Issue 18, he jumps a truck headed for the Potter’s field where he’s buried (Was it already headed there or did they redirect it there? Either way, let’s look at the convenience levels? Ah, they’re reaching Spider-Verse levels!) and realizes that his corpse is gone. (Called it! I called it!) He hijacks a worker’s phone and finds out that people in Symkaria are planning to buy it to stuff and mount. (Boy, Sable might wanna look into what’s going on in her land. Oh, wait, she’s dead. I think…) and redirects the purchase to New U. The Warren clone brigade come and collect it, ableit with a little misdirection, but they eventually come to an agreement, with the Kingpin’s spy listening in.
Once at New U, Jackal proceeds to reanimate Otto, with CloneMarla asking how it works (Damn, that’s a really lame way of saying “Exposite to me, oh great magical Slott.”) Otto breaks through and attaches himself to the clone, (Jackal specifically calls it a clone. This is important. Or simply editorial error, I don’t care) fighting Peter Parker’s brainwaves in the process. (It took me five tries to figure out how to write that. That’s how lame it is.) Otto reawakens, and Slott manufactures some brief yet manufactured drama by having the Anna Maria AI die (Well, it’s an AI. Just because the power runs out doesn’t mean she died. That’s not how things work.) Otto reclaims the title of Doctor Octopus, and agrees to help Jackal perfect the cloning process as we come back to the present. (I thought you specialized in cybernetics?! Since when did you become a geneticist? Was this during the Clone Saga?!)
Okay, so after my incredible lack of investment towards Clone Conspiracy #1, what are my thoughts on ASM #20?
Once again: I don’t care. For different reasons, yes, but the same outcome remains: I have zero investment in what has happened.
Peter shows up for about two panels. At least, the real Peter in his body does. (I think? It’s confusing.) This issue can be summed up as this: exposition. Everything that happens in this issue is used to explain what happened to make way for Clone Conspiracy. Which worries me, because if this trend continues, that means every ASM release for the next two months (or possibly even longer) will essentially be glorified exposition with pretty colors so that Clone Conspiracy can continue moving at the cost of investment in Amazing Spider-Man, which should have been the host of the event rather than an over-hyped mini. But Slott has managed to play the cards so that we’re forced to pick up Amazing Spider-Man to understand what is happening. In a sick, twisted way, Slott is a genius when it comes to getting us to buy what we don’t want.
Camuncoli continues to perform to his usual standard, but there’s nothing on the level of the people on the Spider-satellite titles that continue to wow me with really cool shots, especially with some really clunky flashback panels and a rendition of ASM (2014) #10’s cover really dragging it down. (Javier Rodriguez and Stacey Lee have been major sellers for Spider-Woman and Silk for me, respectively, which makes Camuncoli’s shortcomings even more obvious.) The panels Camuncoli pulls off are basic, but don’t have any real “Oomph” to ‘em. (Also, Mark would probably give that “Oomph” a, what, 6 out of 10? I can do better. Get it together, Bogenrieder.) Keith David continues to be a superior replacement to Marte Garcia, because his colors have been consistent, and have yet to make me feel sick with excessive shininess like Marte Garcia.
Slott’s dialogue continues to be as cringey as ever, especially with the Jackal. His dialogue, as Mark puts it, “Falls well short of being funny.” Ock talks like a cartoon, Spider-Man talks like a cartoon, and Anna Maria’s avatar just talks almost eerily like a devoted fangirl, which, to be fair, is probably Otto’s interpretation of her.
Once again, Doc Ock is consistently written well under Slott’s pen. Almost too well-written.
Doc Ock seems to be Slott’s pet character, the character he wants to succeed at the cost of every other established character before his reign over the Spider-Man character. (Superior proves this in spades.) While this is all fine and dandy, this ties into my earlier statement that declared my lack of investment. This is a Doc Ock story, where we’re supposed to want Octavius to succeed. The problem is, we’ve already had this story in Superior. The moment his story ended and Peter’s came back into the spotlight, we stopped caring about Ock, however clunkily it did end. We don’t want Ock to succeed anymore: his time as the protagonist wrapped up already.
At the cost of the main title falling short of even good, the Clone Conspiracy continues to chug along with no delay. The art is subpar compared to the satellite titles, the dialogue continues to make me feel absolutely uncomfortable around these characters, and Slott clearly wants to write a story about Doc Ock but is stuck with a character he clearly wants nothing to do with; this does nothing to help the issue’s case. With the solicits pointing to yet even more glorified exposition in the future, it’s made one thing clear: the next few months will be painful for me.
Final Grade: C-