To those of you who read my previous “Spidey Speculation” article and correctly guessed that the new Superior Spider-Man would be, of all people, Doctor Octopus in Peter’s body, give yourselves a big round of applause, especially if you put money on it (the odds were 10 to 1 after all). Then again, it would also be a rather bittersweet victory considering how it also means Peter Parker is “officially” dead and no one, save Doc Ock, is any the wiser. And, just like many, many readers, I wasn't the least bit happy about it. Not…one…bit. Well, okay, maybe some of you did, so I won't hold it against you.
Nevertheless, we’re not here to talk about what did happen but what could happen. Which, in this particular case, is venturing into some very uncharted territory. After all, there’s all sort of possibilities of involved with a reformed Otto Octavious in the body of Spider-Man, and given how Dan Slott has handled Peter Parker so far, it’ll be a challenging undertaking to guess what’s going to happen next. As if that’s ever stopped me before no matter how many times my predictions turn out grossly wrong. Thus, now that we know who the new Spider-Man is, here’s what I think we can expect over the course of the Superior Spider-Man series in the months to come.
|"Like a streak of light, he retreats just in time!"|
In Amazing Spider-Man #700, we saw Doc Ock give his word to a dying Peter that he will honor his legacy and not make “Spider-Man” a villain. Yet he also said that because of his “unparalleled genius” and “boundless ambition,” he claims he’ll be an even “better Spider-Man than [Peter] ever [was].” And “boundless ambition“ is something we must take into account. Because whatever one thinks of Otto, this is someone who always thinks and works on a grand scale. This was, after all, someone who successfully blackmailed and nearly destroyed the world, if you recall.
Unlike Peter, Doc Ock would view going after small-time crooks and B-list super-villains as a complete waste of his time, talent and energy (especially, as the preview for Superior Spider-Man #1 suggests, he doesn’t like getting beat up when he can help it). Instead, he’ll decide to concentrate his efforts on the more notorious super-villains and organized crime, believing that by taking out the source, the underlings will be in such disarray that the local authorities will have no trouble in apprehending them. Furthermore, Doc Ock may also believe that once crime is all but eliminated, he can concentrate his efforts on improving society by attempting to eliminate poverty, famine and disease in order to create a police-state like utopia--with himself as ruler, of course. “After all,” Otto might reason. “Doesn’t ’with great power comes great responsibility’ also mean improving society for their own good, whether they want your help or not? I‘ll be doing what the Avengers and the Fantastic Four do every day and expand it towards it‘s most logical and sensible conclusion.”
Of course, aiming high is also Doc Ock's Achilles’ heel, especially since, as Spider-Man, he'll now have two very big and very consistent dilemmas to tackle. When Peter was Spider-Man, he was always trying to juggle two different sets of responsibilities--the responsibilities of being a hero, and the responsibilities of everyday life. Doc Ock, however, doesn’t have this problem because the wish to use his powers responsibility isn’t what motivates him to be Spider-Man. The desire to gain respect and prestige for his accomplishments do. Except how exactly can he do this when he’s pretending to be both Peter Parker and Spider-Man? No matter what Doc Ock does, they will be the ones getting the credit and the appreciation, not him. Granted, he may initially get a twisted pleasure out of the fact that Peter’s friends, family and loved ones are none the wiser, but for someone as arrogant, self-important and petulant as Doc Ock is, the fact they’re really giving more recognition to a dead man instead of himself will really start to get on his fragile ego.
The other dilemma Doc Ock will face is that he’s someone who has always been dependent upon technology, only now he’s in a body that’s physically stronger, faster and more durable than the average person. The temptation to rely more on his new super-powers more than his intellect will be very strong, perhaps to point where Doc Ock actually starts under-performing in his scientific endeavors. Having relied on his robotic arms to simultaneously do multiple tasks for so long, Doc Ock may realize that, without his robotic arms, he’s inadvertently handicapped himself. To compensate, Doc Ock may get back his octobots and remodel them into “Spider-bots” to do menial tasks in Peter’s lab at Horizon, especially while he’s out web-slinging about as Spider-Man. In any case, the irony will be that, because he’s now a “superhero,” the man with the "superior intellect" will end up doing inferior work when it comes to Peter’s job.
THE UNSUSPECTING SUPPORTING CAST
|Seriously, MJ? You still can't figure out this isn't Peter?|
Not that she’ll realize that “Peter” is really Doc Ock right away. She might even dismiss her suspicions as silly because she’s still caught up in the joy of getting back together with the man she loves. However, after the Massacre arc of Superior Spider-Man #4 and #5, MJ will start to realize something is seriously and disturbingly wrong. In secret, she’ll try to uncover what’s really going on with “Peter,” using her acting skills to play the part of the dutiful girlfriend, while deep down she’s becomes more and more afraid that “Peter” is, in fact, an imposter.
All that said, MJ won't be the first member of the supporting cast to figure out the truth. The person who will? Carlie Cooper. After all, Peter, while he was “Doc Ock” did unsuccessfully try to tell her the truth in Amazing Spider-Man #700. Plus, once she figures out that “Doc Ock” was the one who treated her wounds and noticing that “Peter” is acting “out of character” she may, much to horror, realize what really going on, leading her to face “Peter” with the truth.
Once she does, however, Doc Ock will point out that there’s not a thing she can do about it. He can explain that Carlie has no evidence, only suspicion, and thus it’s her word against his. Second, no one would believe her, especially Mary Jane, who would only see Carlie as a “jealous ex-girlfriend” trying to “steal the man she loves away from her.” Third, even if people do believe her, all she’ll succeed in doing is taking away people’s hope and embolden all of Spidey’s enemies. And finally, if she tries to kill him, she’ll wind up being guilty of the murder of “Spider-Man” and everyone will want to see her pay for her “crime.” Thus, Carlie will have no choice but to reluctantly aid Doc Ock just like she did Peter, helpless to do anything to avenge Peter’s death.
|When the Man Without Fear thinks, "Oh crap!"|
As for the rest of the main supporting cast, I think Aunt May will go back to the classic angle of doting on “her nephew” while not being able to stand that “creepy Spider-Man.” However, when it comes to J. Jonah Jameson, it will be the reverse of how things used to be. Instead of thinking Spider-Man is a “menace,” he’ll ironically now see him as a “hero” and be one of his biggest defenders. Given that Jonah is the mayor of New York City, I think we'll be seeing a lampooning by Slott of the Batman and Commissioner Gordon dynamic between Doc Ock and Jonah, in that while the ’ol skinflint will be constantly singing "Spider-Man’s" praises, Doc Ock will privately think he’s nothing but an imbecilic clown that he has to put up with and suck up towards. This will also mean that the current publisher of the Daily Bugle, Robbie Robertson, will be doing what the paper under Jonah used to do and be critical of Spider-Man’s exploits.
One Jameson whose relationship that will be acrimonious with Doc Ock is that of Jonah’s father, Jay. Jay will increasingly think “Peter” is becoming a more “ungrateful nephew” while Doc Ock, jealous over the fact that Jay has married his one-time sweetheart, Aunt May, will treat him with nothing but contempt. Likewise, Doc Ock will seek ways to undermine Max Modell’s authority as head of Horizon Labs, having not forgotten how he played a key role in helping to defeat him during “Ends of the Earth.” In fact, Doc Ock may convince himself that, as part of being a better Spider-Man, he has to find a way to make Modell lose his job and take over as head of the company himself.
THE VILLAINS WHO USED TO BE ALLIES
|The Superior Big-Wheel!|
The next villain, according to the solicits, is Massacre, the brain-damaged, emotionless homicidal maniac from Amazing Spider-Man #656. Once again, he’ll escape to go on a killing spree and Doc Ock will wrestle with his vow to Peter not to take a life even to protect others before finally doing something which will shake the hero community and the supporting cast: he invents a weapon which restores Massacre’s emotions and, because he now experiences fear, regret and shame for what he has done, Massacre commits suicide. This will not only divide the Avengers over whether or not “Spidey” technically committed murder, but also be what causes MJ to suspect something is wrong with “Peter.”
Another villain I suspect will see the return of is Mister Negative, and along with him, the villain whom he appointed as his second-in-command, Hammerhead. As Spidey fans know, these two have a very long-standing rivalry going all to way back to Gerry Conway’s run on Amazing Spider-Man, and Doc Ock will be looking to get some payback. Maybe Doc Ock, in order to bring them down, will have turn to an unexpected ally, The Kingpin. He could promise the current leader of the Hand that he’ll eliminate the competition to make him have a monopoly and regulate the criminal underworld, secretly planning to double-cross him later. This will make a jealous Phil Urich, the current Hobgoblin, to the point that he alerts Roderick Kingsley what the Kingpin and “Spider-Man” are planning.
The other forthcoming rematch will be against the current Scarlet Spider, Kaine. Remember it was Kaine who killed Doc Ock back during the Clone Saga, and because he’s Peter’s clone, he may somehow know right away that “Peter” is not who he says he is, especially if he gets Julia Carpenter’s letter (as seen in Scarlet Spider #12) and it tells him exactly what has happened. Kaine may even have Doc Ock on the ropes when the authorities arrive and Kaine gets injured, thus forcing him to flee and recover from his wounds while Doc Ock gets away.
But the big match-up will be between Spidey’s number one archenemy, Norman Osborn, who will once again don the mantle of the Green Goblin. And just as he was the first villain to discover Peter was Spider-Man, Norman will be the first villain to discover the Superior Spider-Man is really Doc Ock. This will, more than anything, drive Norman to want to kill Doc Ock, not only because he’s been denied his “right” to destroy Spider-Man himself, but also because he’ll, ironically, see Doc Ock pretending to be Spider-Man as an insult to the real Spider-Man’s memory.
THE REAL PETER PARKER
In Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, we saw that Doc Ock telling himself that he would have to do something about Mary Jane because she could be a potential threat, only to then suddenly soften and think Peter was “a fool” to let her go as he did. Then we saw that even though Doc Ock chose not to stop a convenient store robbery, his arm still reached out and clothes-lined before the thief could get away, something which Doc Ock dismissed as instinct. But what if these are clues showing that, somehow, perhaps on a subconscious level, a part of Peter still remains aside from his memories? And what if this part of Peter’s mind was trying to reassert control? Perhaps it was something Peter left while he shared his memories with Doc Ock just before he died, a part of him that would act as Doc Ock’s conscience? Maybe Doc Ock can even interact with “Peter” while asleep; or perhaps “Peter” can periodically show up and only Doc Ock can see and hear him.
The other possibility is that Peter’s soul didn’t go on to the other side, trapped instead inside the gold octobot that caused the mind swap. But because Doc Ock’s body is dead, the gold octobot is inert. However, there is one person who could still communicate with it and Peter--Julia Carpenter, especially since now she’s in a coma and thus between “life and death.” In this way, she would also have the power of astral projection and take Peter along with her, not only to show him what Doc Ock is doing as Spider-Man, but his being Spider-Man threatens to unravel the Web of Life, the consequences of which not only threaten the lives of everyone Peter cares about, but throw “everything” into chaos and darkness. Thus they have to get Peter and Doc Ock back into their own bodies. But since Doc Ock’s body is dead, a new one has to be created to free Peter from the octobot. And that means that once Julia awakens from her coma and retrieves Peter, they will have no choice but to get help from the Jackal in order for him to…clone Doctor Octopus.
Of course, there may also be something to do with one of Doc Ock’s contingency plans Peter learned about in Amazing Spider-Man #699--that of using “robotic duplicates.” Hmm…Peter temporarily transplanted into a robot body?
So will any of these theories of mine really pan out (or at least not be so far off the mark)? Hard to say, considering how there’s at least a year’s worth of stories, or rather 24 issues, of Superior Spider-Man Dan Slott has already planned out. Who knows where things will end up for Doc Ock in a years time, especially if and when Peter does somehow make it back, which I wouldn't be surprised is right around the time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film debuts in theaters in 2014. But will soon find out starting next Wednesday, won’t we? Until then, feel free to make some of your own guesses on what you think might happen.
|First Ock steals from Spidey, now Batman?! Is there nothing he won't stoop to?|