Amazing Spider-Man #18
Written by Dan Slott
Art by R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto and Marte Gracia
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Over his tenure on Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott has proven time and time again his mastery of Peter Parker’s voice. But with this week’s issue, we get to check in on another prominent character that Slott has left an even more indelible mark upon - Otto Octavius. For those who were curious about how Doc Ock survived his demise at the end of Superior Spider-Man, you’re in for a treat, as Slott and artist R.B. Silva deliver an issue that delivers all the necessary exposition using the most fun means possible.
They say that every villain is the hero of their own story, and that might be the key to Dan Slott’s masterful handling of Otto Octavius - sure, he’s a megalomaniacal jerk, but he’s also fighting for his life, the affections of his ex-girlfriend, not to mention his own existential autonomy, now that his brainwaves are residing in the body of the robotic Living Brain. It’s to Slott’s credit that even though he’s not able to use Otto’s unique visuals as either Doctor Octopus or the Superior Spider-Man that the character’s voice still feels compelling, as he stews and schemes while serving as Peter Parker’s allegedly faithful robot butler.
The other great thing about Amazing Spider-Man #18 is that for a title that’s building up to a larger event, it’s also got just the right balance of humor and action. Otto’s plotting as a secretly homicidal robot is one of the funniest bits I’ve seen in a Spidey book in ages, particularly when he drugs his ex-girlfriend Anna Maria’s new boyfriend out of jealousy and spite. (Watching the Brain’s robot arms pound the keyboard when his plans to transfer his consciousness fails is a particularly hilarious image. “How could I not foresee this?! Dolt! Idiot!”) But as Slott smartly builds up Otto’s increasing angst and instability in his robotic frame, he winds up crescendoing the issue into a nicely paced bit of action, pitting Otto against his greatest foe while also giving this series its best fight sequence in a long time.
And as I said with the last issue, artist R.B. Silva proves he’s got the right stuff for this title. While occasionally he and inker Adriano Di Benedetto can get a little wonky with the rendering on their characters’ faces, the overall composition and drama are exactly where they need to be, playing up the sort of Hitchcockian drama of Otto plotting underneath Peter Parker’s nose. Considering the Living Brain doesn’t have a ton of variation in his design, it’s a real testament to Silva that he’s able to play up the malevolent body language using a variety of camera angles. (Colorist Marte Gracia also deserves a ton of credit for creating the mood in this issue, as Otto’s green robotic frame always pops amidst the otherwise realistic settings.)
With The Clone Conspiracy looming, it’s easy for readers to slow down with Amazing Spider-Man through the lengthy number of prelude issues. If it was important, it would show up in the actual event series, right? But Dan Slott and R.B. Silva work strenuously to earn your hard-earned dollars with Amazing Spider-Man #18, which brings back one of Slott’s best characters back to the forefront, as Doc Ock stands poised for a comeback.