Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #88

 Posted: 20 Mar 2024
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)



Story 'The Arms of Dr. Octopus!'

At the Museum of Natural Science, a presentation was being given focused on the disembodied tentacles of Doctor Octopus. The speaker reassured that despite the potential danger they represented, Octavius was imprisoned far out of range of his mental control of them. In a Midwestern prison, Octavius forced himself to concentrate even more than before to regain his connection to his mechanical arms. Despite the suspicions of the guards, the arms in far away New York City began to move , eventually smashing out of a window. Police bullets bounced off of the device but they were webbed by the sudden appearance of Spider-Man. He quickly realized that Octavius was controlling them but his efforts to rein them in were unsuccessful. Webbing was snapped and they untangled themselves when he tied them into a knot. They smashed a building nearby, causing a collapse onto onlookers. He managed to hold the building together with his webbing and strength as the mechanical harness escaped.

After the police arrived, he went looking for the tentacles which had disappeared. He returned to his apartment to study for school but quickly fell asleep. At ESU he found a note from Dr. Warren telling Peter to come see him. Warren reminded Peter that he was attending college on a scholarship but his grades had been low. He advised him to attend class more often but then asked him if he was having personal problems. Peter of course told him that it was nothing he could talk about. Later he told the story to Gwen, who offered to help him study.

Meanwhile, the tentacles smashed into Octavius’s prison cell and freed him, letting Dr. Octopus escape over the prairie.

At Chicago’s O’Hare airport, Jonah and John Jameson were discussing the arrival of General Su, a foreign general flying to the U.N. John had managed to get Jonah a seat on the plane but denied him a chance to interview General Su. Jonah, naturally, won’t take “no” for an answer. Inside the plane, American officials promised the general his safe passage to New York. That promise ended quickly as Octavius snuck aboard the aircraft as it took off, quickly tearing into the cargo hold. He soon forced his way into the fuselage, taking a flight attendant hostage and relieving a soldier of his gun.

He made his way into the cabin, telling the pilots that he was in control. One of them let slip that General Su was a passenger, which was good news to Ock. He knew the government would do anything to assure his safety. He ordered a soldier to bring him the general, who calmly sat with Ock. The general’s assistant mocked John Jameson, saying the mighty Americans was being taunted by a common criminal. Ock replied that he was a criminal but there was nothing common about him. John snapped that Octavius couldn’t take on the government and win but Ock didn’t see anyone stopping him. He demanded ten million dollars to protect the general and if he didn’t get paid, no one left alive.

At the Bugle, Peter hoped to get work from Jonah but he was interrupted by Robbie who explained the situation with Ock and the general. He had Peter bring his camera and they rushed to JFK airport, where they found George Stacy in charge. Stacy was worried about Ock being in charge of the plane but also about militant demonstrators at the airport. Some of them were supportive of general Su and others opposed. After the plane landed, a warning went out for everyone to stay away from the aircraft, an order ignored by the protesters. Peter snuck away to become Spider-Man, fearing what a powder keg the situation was becoming.

From the plane, Ock screamed to keep everyone away or else everyone died. Spider-Man managed to web his way to the tail of the plane unnoticed, as everyone was focused on the front. He managed to pull back a section of the outer fuselage to see inside, and saw Ock with his hostages. He webbed Octavius’s glasses, giving the hostages a chance to escape. Despite being blinded, Ock recognized Spidey and lashed out. The hostages escaped to the tarmac and the police attempted to close in on the plane. Inside, two of Ock’s tentacles were stuck in the wall but one moved into the cabin and set the plane to take off. Spider-Man escaped out of a door as the plane ran blindly into the end of the runway and exploded.

In the control tower, Jonah lamented that the story of the year had just happened and no one had been close enough to get photos. He wanted to know why Peter hadn’t followed Spider-Man and Robbie told him that Peter couldn’t do the impossible. Jonah snorted that Peter would chicken out at the first sign of trouble. Outside, Spider-Man pondered if Doctor Octopus was really dead.

General Comments

This issue kind of hit home for me. As a native Midwesterner, it was fun to see Ock in a Midwestern prison and then commandeer an airplane at O’Hare. (The prison was among mountains, so I’m guessing it was Colorado or Wyoming. Impressive that he made it that distance to Chicago.) I’ve been to that airport quite a few times so it was entertaining to think that Spidey’s cast had been there.

I’m also a history nerd so the involvement of geopolitics and an aircraft hijacking caught my attention. (Between 1968 and 1972, the world experienced a plane hijacking every 5.6 days.) I love when stories are based in reality.

General Su, unfortunately, speaks like a stereotype. “Ah, so!” “When the wise man cannot act, he waits—and bides his time!” It was similar in Marvel Fanfare #32.

Spidey has an unusual amount of luck. (There is a sentence that I’d never expected to say.) He happened to be swinging by as Ock’s tentacles escaped the museum (reminds me of his coincidentally crossing Molten Man in Amazing Spider-Man #35) and he managed to sneak into a heavily monitored aircraft. Oh well, I’m over thinking it.

It’s interesting to see Professor Warren before becoming the Jackal and before his hair went white. Little did we know.

Overall Rating

Cringey stereotypes aside, it was a good story.

 Posted: 20 Mar 2024
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)