Comics : Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #40

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Last issue, Spider-Man stumbled across a plot involving a crooked congressman, government payoffs, prosthetic limbs, and last but not least, Doctor Octopus. And when last we left our hero, he had been lured into a trap and bushwhacked by Doc Ock and the nefarious Fusion.

In Detail...

"Codename: John Hancock"
Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #40
Apr 2002 : SM Title
Summary: (#138) Fusion Beaten By Doctor Octopus, Nick Fury Appears
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  Paul Jenkins
Pencils:  Mark Buckingham
Inker:  Wayne Faucher
Cover Art:  Humberto Ramos
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Spectacular) #6
Articles: Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Fusion II

Spider-Man is being held immobile by the metallic arms of Doctor Octopus, as he is beat by Fusion, and interrogated as to what exactly he knows of the villains' plans. But Spidey manages to escape the two evil-doers, but not before snagging a prosthetic hand and Doc Ock's briefcase. Meanwhile, at the Daily Bugle, Robbie Robertson manages to convince J. Jonah Jameson that the Congressman Miles story is worthwhile.

Peter Parker, meantime, digs through Doc Ock's briefcase and finds a note with various pieces of information on it, including a phone number and the name "John Hancock". So Peter tries to get to the bottom of this mystery. Keep in mind, though, that Pete's detective skills have never been particularly stellar, and as he calls the telephone number, he manages to make a fool of himself. While in the darkness of Congressman Miles' office, Fusion is paying the politician a visit. Fusion cryptically demands that "delivery of the device" be moved forth to that night. Miles reluctantly agrees.

Spider-Man has decided to do some visiting of his own, though, as he drops in on SHIELD's own Colonel Nick Fury. Spidey and Fury exchange information: Spidey explains that the newest prototype artificial limbs manufactured by Biotechnix contain a two-way receiver that would allow someone to exert mind control over the amputee through the limb. In exchange, Fury explains that "John Hancock" is not a person, but rather a tracking device used to detect radiation, which is so precise that it can be used to track certain types of people based on their personal radiation signature. Fury goes on to explain that the device was just stolen, by an amputee no less. Spidey vows to get to the bottom of this.

Back at their hideout, Fusion and Doc Ock receive the John Hancock device from the mind-controlled amputee who stole it. Fusion declares that he can use the device to track Spider-Man and kill him at his whim. Fusion assures Octopus that the thief will remember none of this, but Doc Ock kills him anyway. Fusion is furious, and Doc Ock rebels against him. Fusion tries using his persuasive powers on Octopus, but Octopus strikes him, and beats him down. Doc Ock explains that he was only pretending to be Fusion's servant in order to get what he wanted, and as he digs the claws of his metal arms into Fusion's face, Octopus explains how he hates a material witness.

Meanwhile, Robbie Robertson has broke the story in the Daily Bugle, Congressman Miles has been taken into custody, and the connection has been made between Biotechnix and the theft of the John Hancock device. But Spider-Man knows that this isn't over, as he swings across town to investigate some of Biotechnix's storage facilities. When he arrives at the first one storage facility, his suspicions are confirmed, as he finds the body of the man who stole John Hancock. And when Spidey works his way farther into the facility, he finds Fusion's bloodied corpse, strung up to the ceiling, with four prosthetic limbs stabbed into his sides.

In General...

Wow. I was not expecting this at all. When Fusion first showed up in that dynamic story nearly a year ago, I thought he was gonna be Paul Jenkins' pet villain. But after last issue, I worried that Fusion would be over-used... I guess I've been proven wrong.

My other complaint about the previous issue was that Doctor Octopus had been reduced to a sniveling pansy. But it turns out that the uncharacteristic behaviour of the mad doctor was part of Mr. Jenkins' plan all along. Doc Ock is back in a big way, demonstrated by his slaying of Fusion.

What can I say about the creative team that I haven't said before? Paul Jenkins has crafted an intricate, fascinating storyline involving crooked politicians and super-villain double-crosses, but he still manages to inject his trademark humour (check out the chainsaw bit). And I feel that with this issue, he's also managed to re-established Doctor Octopus as a major Spidey villain. And the art, with pencils by Mark Buckingham and inks by Wayne Faucher, is gorgeous as always. Fantastic work, gang.

Overall Rating...

This one really knocked my socks off. I can't wait for the next issue. Five big, prosthetic, mind-controlling webs.