Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #173

 Posted: 2006
 Staff: Stephen Wolfram (E-Mail)


After Puma's defeat in the previous issue, christmas has arrived, but all is not cheerful and merry when Doc Ock comes back for the holidays.

Story 'Creatures Stirring'

The story opens with three thugs beating up some poor man for his cash nearby the docks. Unfortunately the poor guy has no cash, and thugs want some cash to get themselves some Christmas cheer, namely a noseful of drugs. Suddenly a large oval shaped submarine with long tendrils emerges from the ocean and comes ashore. Believing that it's some kind of National Geographic submarine used for marine study, the three thugs begin to bang on the door, demanding the person inside come out, as they intend to take whatever cash and other valuables the occupant has. Suddenly the submarine door opens, and three tentacles come lashing out, grabbing the thugs by their throats and hauling them into the air, and snapping their necks. Doctor Octopus emerges from the submarine, and calls the three dead thugs idiots, as he tosses their bodies aside. "Small men with small minds are the bane of my existence" he exclaims, as he walks on his tentacles up to the dock, where a sleek black limousine with a driver is waiting for him. There is champagne on ice waiting for him inside. Ock instructs the driver to take him to Forest Hills in Queens. The driver addresses Ock as Doctor Octavius, but Ock warns him to only call him Doctor Octopus. Ock then looks at a photo of Aunt May as he sips a glass of champagne, and says to himself that only one person can know him as Octavius.

At the Parker home, Aunt May is serving up christmas cookies to Willie Lumpkin, MJ, and MJ's cousin Kristy, whom are all decorating the Christmas tree. Aunt May made the cookies sugarless for Kristy, as she once had an eating disorder. MJ wonders where Peter is, as she's eager to get under the mistletoe with him.

In Manhattan, Peter is web swinging as Spidey thru a snow storm, with a web sack full of presents on his back. Suddenly he spots a street corner charity collecting Santa Claus getting mugged by three thugs. Spidey swings down and tells them to give the money back or they'll spend silent night in the emergency room. But the thugs scoff at him, and point to a Bugle billboard of Spidey with a dog and cat, with a headline that says "Spider-Man: Nature's friend and ours". They then proceed to beat up the Santa Claus, but Spidey quickly webs them up. Meanwhile, Nick Katzenberg has taken photos of the whole thing, and speeds off in his car shouting that Spider-Man assaulted innocent kids out for holiday fun, and that Jameson will buy these photos in a second.

Katzenberg stops off to meet a homeless man named Twitch, who provides him regularly with hot tips in exchange for cash. Twitch tells Nick that something big is going down at midnight at an address he hands him on a piece of paper. Nick pays Twitch $50. Spidey swings towards the Daily Bugle, where he changes into Peter Parker in the stairway, before entering the Christmas party in the main offices. Everyone is here including Jonah, who is dressed as Santa Claus. Robbie, Betty, and Glory Grant are also there. Peter and Jonah exchange gifts, which turn out to be the exact same thing, a hideous pink tie. Robbie gets a new pipe off Peter. Peter show Betty a very expensive crystal dove he got MJ for christmas. Suddenly Nick Katzenberg comes along, and starts making snide remarks to Peter about MJ. Peter loses his temper and shoves Nick into the buffet table, where MJ's gift is, which falls to the floor smashing to pieces. Katzenberg laughs and says "Too bad, but you of all people should know Parker that pretty birds are cheap". Peter then grabs Katzenberg and shoves him head first into the punch bowl, as he smashes the table to the floor. Peter suddenly realizes what he's done, and looks around in horror as everyone is staring at him. He apologizes to Jonah and leaves. Nick blusters in anger as Robbie and Lance Bannon help him to his feet. He then leaves quickly to follow his hot lead.

As Spidey swings back into Forest Hills, his Spidey sense suddenly goes off as he spots a black limousine parked outside his May's house. As he gets closer he spots Doc Ock peering thru one of the windows. Ock is watching May celebrate Christmas with her family. He wanted to spend some time with her on Christmas, but he sees that he has no place here. He decides to leave May to enjoy her Christmas. As he turns to his driver to leave, he sees the driver is webbed up, and Spidey sitting on top of his limo. Spidey says he's had a bad night, but Ock's threatening Mrs Parker is the last straw. Spidey leaps at Ock, but Ock swats him away with a tentacle. Ock claims he didn't come here for battle, but in his current frame of mind he welcomes it. As Ock and Spidey battle fiercely, they suddenly notice May is watching them in astonishment from her front door. Both Spidey and Ock cease their fight. Ock apologizes to May for interrupting her merriment. He then turns to Spider-Man and says they'll continue this later. Spider-Man says he can count on it. As Ock leaves, Spidey thinks that oddly enough, Ock does seem sorry and even a little sad. May blames Spider-Man for driving poor Doctor Octavius away.

Epilogue: On a Manhattan rooftop, Nick Katzenberg grins as he snaps photos of a meeting between two mysterious men.

General Comments

Wow, even super villains like Doc Ock get a little emotional at Christmas. What a wonderful story. First we see Ock brutally murder three thugs, then he goes off to Forest Hills to spend a little time with the only person he feels any compassion for. There is a little humanity beneath the monster that is Doctor Octopus. And it was very well shown in this story.

Nick Katzenberg is the biggest jerk I've seen hassle Peter Parker since the days of Flash Thompson. When Peter dunked him into the punch bowl, that was a bittersweet moment. Katzenberg's mysterious assignment leaves some intrigue too. No doubt whatever it is, Spidey will end up smack in the middle of it.

Overall Rating

A neat little Christmas tale that has it all. Humour, action, mystery, and drama. Doc Ock will be spending Christmas planning his nefarious deeds for the next issue.

 Posted: 2006
 Staff: Stephen Wolfram (E-Mail)