Otto Octavius: Can a Leopard Change its Spots?

If you’re reading Superior Spider-Man, but not reading its older, better looking, more intelligent brother, Avenging Spider-Man, then I’m about to give you a stern telling off. It’s brilliant. Or, well, it has been ever since Christopher Yost, of Scarlet Spider fame, took over with issue 15.1. It’s really given us an insight into Otto’s journey from his death-bed on the Raft to his thwipping, web-slinging antics as Spider-Man. For anyone who’s been reading the last couple of issues, though, it has become apparent that dear Otto has a plan. Is this a sinister plan, or does the penal system in the Marvel Universe really work; is Otto a new man? Well, this intrepid reporter is going to wildly speculate and pretend to find out.


So he speaks… how, exactly?

The latest issue of Avenging Spider-Man ended with an unnerving reveal (Spoilers ahead! Run!). In issue 17, we see the Time Variance Authority, who’re effectively less-eccentric time-lords, turn up and declare that Otto is going to participate in some unspeakable atrocity. Many lives are going to be lost, and the matter is outwith the jurisdiction of the Time Variance Authority. Uh-oh. The issue culminates in Otto stealing the capsule that contains whatever’s left of Sandman these days. Not very heroic, right?


This isn’t the beach! You said we were going to the beach!

Skip to issue 18, and we’re battling Electro with Thor high up in the New York skyline. This issue aptly demonstrates Otto’s continued hatred of his fellow heroes, particularly the Avengers, through his description of Thor’s ‘arrogance’ and general ineptitude. I suspect this will come to the fore in the upcoming Fired storyline. Electro has been juiced up by proton-related physics mumbo-jumbo, but is eventually taken down courtesy of some more cool-sounding-but-totally-over-my-head-science-related-stuff. After his defeat, Otto pops Electro in a capsule and takes him down to his secret lair… where he sits him down next to Sandman. Things just got a whole lot worse. It’s on like Donkey Kong, folks; he’s gathering up the five remaining members of the Sinister Six. The question on everybody’s lips; why?

ImageMatching capsules! Awww!

Otto Octavius is the face of the Sinister Six, and they’re not exactly renowned for their charitable deeds, their camaraderie or their goodwill to all men. With Otto now wearing the traditional red-and-blue of Spider-Man, it’s easy to forget that, with or without Peter’s nagging influence, this was a man who was rotten to the core. The last time the Sinister Six got together under his leadership was during the Ends of the Earth storyline; a storyline which effectively set-up Peter Parker’s eventual demise in Dying Wish. When a new group turned up and took up the Sinister Six moniker, in Superior Spider-Man issue 1, Otto was incensed. He still harbours a sense of pride regarding his previous exploits as a villain, and, therefore, it is hard to argue that he has truly reformed as a character. Sure, he’s clipped Vulture’s wings and lowered the crime rate, but he also shot Massacre in the face. These villainous undertones are present in virtually every heroic act that Otto commits. This could be chalked up to bad habits dying hard, sure, but it does not bode well for Spider-Man’s image at present!

ImageHaven’t you heard of copyright law?

Having said all of that, it’s possible, however unlikely it seems to long-time readers, that Otto’s actions are in the interests of society; that they are heroic. Had Electro been captured by any other hero, he would have, invariably, ended up in the Raft. By the same token, the Baxter Building had just been attacked and had its frailties and security lapses exposed when Sandman was taken. The Raft is a bit like Arkham Asylum; prisoners seem to break out daily. It’s a bit like a holiday camp, if we’re being honest. Morbius broke out as recently as 699.1, and Peter Parker managed it in a crippled, dying body. It can hardly be deemed secure. This is touched upon in the preview of Superior Spider-Man 6, where Mayor Jameson orders the closure of the raft for these very reasons. With the Baxter building’s security protocols in question, and the Raft useless and about to be shutdown, where better to keep Electro and Sandman than in the lair of a super-powered genius who knows how they think, how they act, and what their motivations are. Maybe Otto is trying to do the right thing.


I didn’t vote for him either.

Additionally, Otto may well be looking to expand the villain-to-superhero reform program that he himself recently experienced. He has witnessed first-hand the effects of employing his criminal genius to fight crime, through the success of his army of Spider-Bots and the commendable improvements to Spider-Man’s technological armoury and costume. It could therefore be reasoned that, now burdened with Peter Parker’s memories, Otto is taking the notion of great power bringing great responsibility to heart, and therefore looking to show these powerful ex-criminals the light. Sure, it’d look a bit weird, but I’d read that story! The Spectacular Six? It’s possible!


He said it! He said it!

Strap yourselves in, because this is going to be a good one. Regardless of what comes to pass, the Marvel Universes’ fake time-lords have promised us that a catastrophic event is on the horizon; one borne of Otto’s actions. Whether this is an act of evil perpetrated by Otto, or something that he’ll attempt (and fail) to stop, is a total mystery. It’s a little-known fact that an octopus continually sheds the skin on its tentacles and suckers so, who knows, Otto may well surprise us all.


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