Continuing the trend I first talked about earlier this week, the Avenging Spider-Man series appears to be the series where Marvel’s creative powers have decided to focus almost exclusively on Spider Ock’s internal evolution – specifically vis a vis other Marvel superheroes. In the case of Avenging Spider-Man #18, Chris Yost has paired Spider Ock off with the all powerful God of Thunder, Thor. The end result is some interesting introspection from Otto about Thor that is ultimately undone (once again) by the hero-turned-villain’s hubris and arrogance towards his contemporaries.
One would imagine that this early in Spider Ock’s run, the reader should be getting more of a sense that he’s still quite new to the whole “fighting for the sake of good” thing. In Superior Spider-Man, the series seems to be tilting in the direction that Otto Octavius can’t hack it in Spider-Man’s superhero shoes. But I appreciate how in Avenging Spider Ock is making some mild progress. Since Marvel executives seem hellbent on hanging on to this new status quo for as long as it sells (and honestly, as long as the stories continue to entertain, I can live with the upside down world for some more time), I think it’s critically important for some of the stories to demonstrate that Spider Ock is learning from his past mistakes while absorbing and reflecting on the heroics of others. In the case of Thor, Spider Ock immediately wants to dismiss him as an uneducated oaf, but comes around (somewhat) to actually admire his ability to completely disregard his own health and safety when millions of innocent people are in danger.
Adding to the intrigue of this issue is the featured antagonist, an old ally of Doc Ock’s in Electro. As I’ve mentioned in prior write-ups about the new line of Spidey books, this is a device that just works well for story-telling purposes, at least while Spider Ock makes his way through the Marvel lineup for the first time. A Spider-Man and Electro story has more juice (excuse the pun) because the reader is now looking at it through the lens of a somewhat reformed supervillain. It saves Marvel’s creative personnel from having to reinvent the villain too many times (as Mark Waid did with Electro a few years back in ASM) since the match-up is all but brand new based on the characters’ histories with each other. And in a fun nod to how Spidey’s rogues gallery is often dismissed as not being as daunting as those associated with guys/groups like the Avengers or the Fantastic Four, Thor initially brushes Electro aside as a joke before Spider Ock has to ultimately the save the world from (partial) annihilation thanks to the instability of his Sinister Six buddy.
And just before things became too warm and cuddly, Spider Ock’s obnoxious personality saves the day and becomes one of Thor’s main takeaways from the team-up experience. “Your manner is disrespectful,” Thor tells him once Electro is subdued. Obviously, this all would seemingly play into the next big Superior Spider-Man arc which is Spider Ock getting
kicked out of the Avengers. How that eventually trickles down to impact the Avenging series remains to be seen, though I have to imagine if Spider-Man has been branded as toxic and unstable by the Avengers, pickings are going to be very slim for a true-to-form team-up series.
Either way, I’m still really invested in how the two primary Spider-Man titles have complimented each other and provided different insights about this new character. I’m still waiting for that one truly “great” arc to get introduced in this series, similar to what would occasionally happen in the 1980s/1990s with Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, etc., but at least these comics continue to provide on the entertainment scale.