Comics : Spider-Man: Dangerous Dr. Octopus

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

This 24 page illustrated storybook is 8" x 8". It's an adaptation by regular Spidey kids fiction writer/adapter Michael Teitelbaum of Spider-Man TV (1994) Season 1, Episode 6.

In Detail...

Spider-Man: Dangerous Dr. Octopus
Year 1995 : SM Title
Find ISBN 0307129098
Publisher:  Western Publishing Company, Inc.
Illustrator:  Brad Vancata, Kirk Jarvinen
Adaption:  Michael Teitelbaum
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Review

Each page or double-page spread features some bright computer-colored art, with a paragraph or two of text, for example:

One evening Peter Parker, also known as the Amazing Spider-Man, went to visit his friend Felicia Hardy.

"Please come in, sir," said the butler. "Miss Hardy is expecting you."

Wow! thought Peter as he peeked inside. This is the biggest house I've ever seen!

That's the text for the first double-page spread, accompanied by a picture of the Hardy mansion, complete with butler dressed in spats, black tie and tails. Already you get a feel that the languages is a bit "kiddie". There's also a few odd things in there. "Also known as the Amazing Spider-Man?" I thought the fact that Peter was Spidey was not generally known. And "peeked inside"? He doesn't have to peek... he gets invited in!

There's also no sign of how Peter actually arrives, no sign of a taxi. Peter doesn't have a car, and public transport doesn't go to mansions, so surely Felicia would send a car for him, or meet him in town. Finally... "goes to visit his friend?" As it turns out, they're on a date, so that's a funny way to express it.

The story continues. Felicia goes upstairs to grab a jacket before they go to the movies, but gets kidnapped by Doc Ock. He smashes free carrying the babe. A ransom note arrives. Once, Felicia's mom refused to donate money to Ock's experiments... and now Felicia has been "kidnapped in revenge". Revenge? Or Ransom? Well, which is it!?

Spidey heads off to make his own search. Meanwhile, Ock is holding Felicia hostage in a building used to test rocket engines. She's being dangled, roped around her wrists, hanging in mid-air. I don't think people live very long, hanging like that, do they? Certainly she'd probably lose her hands as the circulation was cut off at her wrists.

We're told that "The Doctor's first experiment had blown up, fusing mechanical arms to his body." His first experiment? What, his very first ever experiment? At high school? At college? So... he received millions of dollars to develop his mechanical arms, before he actually performed his first ever experiment?

So. What happens next? JJJ appears on TV, saying that Mrs. Hardy would pay the ransom. So Ock calls and tells him to bring the money to "The warehouse on River Street at 11:00". Why is a newspaper publisher appearing on TV, announcing that somebody else would pay a ransom? Surely Mrs. Hardy herself, or the FBI, or a TV anchorman...?

At 10:59, Jonah arrives at the warehouse. He's a minute early, that's a vital point I guess, since it's made so explicit. Take a note of that. Jonah is punctual! Spider-Man has followed Jonah, but Ock throws Spidey out a window and heads off with his SECOND hostage. Hmm... bad move, really. Kidnapping the guy who brings you the ransom money for your first hostage really makes it difficult to collect money on your second hostage. Not so many people are keen to volunteer to bring the cash the next time around, they don't want to be hostage number three.

When Ock rings Mrs. Hardy to demand the second ransom... (I'm not sure why she would pay a ransom for Jonah, I sure wouldn't)... Mrs. Hardy puts Peter on the phone. Right. I'm sure the FBI would let Peter do the negotiating. Peter tells Ock that he admires his scientific work, so Ock says that Peter can bring the second ransom.

Peter arrives at the rocket complex with the second load of cash. What? The criminal tells them to bring the money to his hideout? And where are the FBI in all of this? Best not to ask, as Ock throws Peter out of the window. Apart from the fact that he did that last time, it's also a dumb move, murdering the person who brings you the second ransom money! Who is going to want to bring you the third load of ransom money if you kill/kidnap everybody who brought the first two loads of money?!

Of course, last time Ock threw Spidey out of the window, it worked quite well. This time it doesn't. Peter manages to stick to the side of the building and change into his Spidey outfit. Then he runs back in, as Ock says he's going to kill the hostages. What? Take the money, kidnap/murder the guys who bring the cash, and kill the hostages? Ock really is determined to completely ruin his reputation as a kidnapper, isn't he. Bad, bad, bad for business!

"Ock places a rocket engine on top of Felicia and Jonah." Actually, I think that should read "Ock had placed Felicia and Jonah under a rocket engine." Firstly, I assume it's easier to move people rather than 200 ton rocket engines, and secondly I presume he HAD done it earlier... not while Spider-Man was there.

I really didn't know that 20-foot wide rocket engines were tested indoors. I always imagined they were some kind of "outdoor toy". But this one seems to be an inside kind of thing. But no matter. I guess they have a fire extinguisher handy, just in case.

Ock has Spidey coiled up in an arm. But Spidey pulls the level to activate a giant magnet. A HUGE GIANT ELECTROMAGNET! The picture shows the electromagnet hanging by a chain. There is no sign of any wire to power the electromagnet. Perhaps the artist didn't know that electromagnets require electricity. Hence the name. They also didn't know that electromagnets require large copper-wound coils wrapped around ferrous rods, and hence don't look like plates. But this isn't a science class I guess.

Startled, Ock releases Spidey, who swings off and pulls the hostages just out of the way of the jet engine. Personally, I don't think 10 feet clear of a rocket engine is sufficient safety margin. Have you ever seen a shuttle takeoff? Let me just say, the guards don't go around ushering people behind the "10 foot safety line". You don't hear them saying... "Excuse me mam, but could you please get those children at least ten feet away from the booster exhaust jet". No, all the scientists are safely tucked away in concrete bunkers half a mile away.

Pah. Never mind. Once outside, "Spider-Man became Peter Parker again." Felicia is worried about him. "Don't worry, Spider-Man caught me," said Peter. "But I hope our next visit is a lot more fun."

Next visit? What, they're going to come back to the rocket testing lab again for another visit?

"We'll give it another try soon," said Felicia, smiling.

So... let me get this right. Peter came to pay the ransom, to save Felicia's life. He gets thrown out of a building to his certain doom... and Felicia doesn't take him back home for a glass of brandy? It just "We'll try again soon."

And where the hell are the FBI? Why aren't there dozens of guys in bullet-proof vests swinging down the walls on ropes making "HUT! HUT! HUT!" noises!? And where's Jonah? And how come Felicia hasn't lost her high-heeled shoes after dangling in mid air for three hours.

In General...

Brain... hurts...

This might have possibly added up to a half-believable storyline in a half-hour cartoon. Maybe. But compacted into this carelessly written storybook format, it's a ludicrous excuse for a plot.

Why is Jonah involved? Where did the FBI go to? Why is Peter asked to speak to Ock? What is Ock doing with all those chemicals? Where are all the late-night workers from the fully-functioning rocket testing lab? Why didn't Felicia have crazy stress-relief sex with Peter, the guy who nearly sacrificed his life for her. NOTHING MAKES SENSE!

Overall Rating...

This story is wrong on so many levels! It's illogical, confused, suffers from lazy-writing and pretty but mindless art. It's almost like a Spidey Super Stories plot, but without the surreal charm.

One single web for this logic-challenged fiasco.

Footnote...

This books is available in three formats. Paperback. Library (Hardback) Binding, and Special Edition Paperback. The Special Edition Paperback is identical to the regular paperback, except it uses thinner paper, and has a thinner, non-glossy cardboard cover. "Specially Cheap" I think it means.