SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “Amazing Spider-Man” #25 by Dan Slott, Stuart Immonen and Giuseppe Camuncoli, on sale now.
“The Clone Conspiracy” is over, but its fallout continues to reverberate in the massive 96-page “Amazing Spider-Man” #25, as Peter Parker finds himself more driven than ever to track down one of his most notorious foes after Wilson Fisk provided Peter with critical information at the end of “The Clone Conspiracy: Omega.” The first part of “The Osborn Identity” makes no secret of who this not-so-mysterious foe is, and in fact Peter gets some high-powered help in his global trek to find the one-time Green Goblin.
Norman Osborn isn’t the only Spidey supervillain to begin his return to prominence, though, as one of the issue’s backup features also kicks off the new career of a bad guy that many likely didn’t expect to return quite so soon, or in their new guise.
Otto Octavius Is Dead – Long Live Otto Octavius
Otto was last seen turning to dust during his climactic battle with The Jackal, aka Ben Reilly, in “The Clone Conspiracy” #5. “Amazing Spider-Man” #24, however, revealed that while Otto’s previous body had indeed disintegrated, he had still managed to transfer his consciousness into his modified version of The Jackal’s proto-clone and flee the scene. This issue features the first look at Otto in his new physically fit and youthful form, an amalgamation of The Jackal’s “ultimate template” spliced with Otto’s own DNA, as the now-buff super-scientist makes his way back to a long-unused secret base of his out west, a seemingly normal automobile junkyard cleverly named The Auto Empire.
Otto quickly discovers that his base has been taken over by Hydra, and after defeating not only the goons in his base but also their leader, he’s unexpectedly approached by Hydra supreme scientist Arnim Zola. The battle was merely a ruse by Hydra, according to Zola, to promote Otto as the cell’s new leader, united by their common interests of destroying Parker Industries. With the backing of Hydra science used to bolster Otto’s own scientific skills, Otto fashions himself a new Hydra-esque costume, and with its advanced abilities and Otto’s own reinvigorated condition, dubs himself The Superior Octopus.
Hail Hydra – And The Superior Octopus
Despite his awkward new moniker, Otto’s new identity and outlook on life is a natural fit with his new allies. His armored tentacles evoke the same kind of reptilic imagery long associated with Hydra, both the clandestine group and the mythological creature it’s named after, and even their traditional olive-green color schemes match. Less of a fit, though, is Zola and presumably Hydra’s grudge against Parker Industries – are the scientific breakthroughs at Peter’s company seen as a threat by Hydra’s own science division? Or is there some as-yet unknown connection between the two global powerhouses?
Historically, Otto has largely seen everyone else as beneath him, and that vibe is all too apparent here. He clearly sees his alliance with Zola and Hydra as a powerful means to further his own ends, and a likely intent might be to try and break up his partnership once his own needs are met. Such a move would put Otto at odds with a formidable foe, however, and Otto’s prowess could lead him down another path: to serve his own ends by moving up within Hydra, becoming a major player in a far-reaching organization whose paths had rarely, if ever, crossed before now. Superior Ock is potentially more powerful now than he has ever been, even if he were to break from Hydra, but a permanent place within their organization would give him a kind of hierarchal power that he has never experienced.
This Is All Supposed To Be About Norman Osborn
All of the developments with Otto are squeezed into a ten-page backup comprising the issue’s final feature, but the lengthier 40-page opening chapter regarding Norman Osborn is the issue’s marquee story. The new storyline opens with your friendly globalized Spider-Man swinging through the Republic of Delvadia, home turf of The Tarantula and Devil Spider, who join Spidey on his quest to locate crime lord El Facoquero, aka The Warthog, aka an incognito Norman Osborn. Spidey has some even bigger allies, though — namely Mockingbird, as well as the backing of S.H.I.E.L.D.
After Spidey’s intensity during this high-octane mission is noted by Tarantula, Peter reveals to Bobbi that having once again losing many loved ones because of The Jackal’s machinations, he is desperately looking for some kind of victory by capturing Osborn. Despite capturing El Facoquero, he doesn’t get the win he so desperately wants, though, when the grotesque crime lord is revealed by Nick Fury not to be Osborn. As it turns out, Osborn is using the guise of Facoquero in several locations around the world to mask his trail, so Peter and Bobbi track their next lead of Osborn to Hong Kong, also the site of a Parker Industries event benefitting Peter’s Uncle Ben Foundation.
Before that, though, Peter makes his way back home, where the remains of Uncle Ben that had been unearthed by The Jackal are returned to their resting place. There, Peter then reunites with Aunt May and Harry Osborn before Peter and Bobbi head off to Hong Kong — where they’re surprised to discover that both Aunt May and Harry have unexpectedly tagged along to attend the fundraiser. This puts Peter and Bobbi at a disadvantage trying to locate Osborn with Peter’s aunt, and Norman’s son, in tow. Once they’ve arrived, and after some coercion of the local criminal element, Peter and Bobbi learn that Osborn himself is indeed in Hong Kong – and attending that very same fundraiser.
The two also discover that they’re not the only ones after Osborn, as Spider-Man stops an invisible rooftop sniper from assassinating his arch-foe at the event, immediately after Norman notices his son Harry is present. The identity of the assailant is a significant surprise that wraps up the story’s first chapter, and promises to play a significant role in future installments.