Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Year One
by Zeb Wells, Kaare Andrews (Marvel Comics, 2005)

It's always exciting when comics creators can broaden and more deeply define a classic character. And, as so many popular superheroes have even more interesting villains, this is all the more true with the bad guys. A great example of this is Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Year One, published by Marvel Comics in 2005.

Writer Zeb Wells takes readers on a guided tour into the psyche of the fan-favorite Spider-villain, Doctor Otto Octavius. Beginning in his childhood, Wells lays some great after-the-fact groundwork on who Doc Ock is, and why. From his relationship with his parents, professors, colleagues, a potential love interest and, of course, a certain wall-crawling hero, it all seems fresh and new. Wells also manages to present Ock as a sympathetic, yet frightening, character, making this collected story hard to put down from start to finish. Extremely interesting is the root and nature of the villain's obsession with Spider-Man, earning Wells hearty kudos.

Kaare Andrews lends his considerable artistic talents to the story, bringing wonderfully vibrant life to the characters. Visually, he stays true to the classic look of Ock, while being unafraid to take chances with some more realistic design characteristics where his mechanical appendages are concerned. His subtle variations were enough to make me wonder why Ditko, the Romitas, Andru or any of the other classic Spidey artists never thought of similar possibilities. Also a great storyteller, Andrews weaves an artistically astonishing tale which pulls the reader along effortlessly, while lending a subtle ominous overtone to the whole, which foretells what long-time fans already know: that Doctor Octopus will be/is one of Spider-Man's most intelligent, ruthless and dangerous villains ever.

All in all, this is a great addition to the Spider-Man mythos and worthy of inclusion in fans' collections.

review by
Mark Allen

10 October 2009

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