The Odd Story of Doctor Octopus' Adamantium Arms

This is "I've Been Here Before," a feature that deals with a term that I coined called "nepotistic continuity," which refers to the way that comic book writers sometimes bring back minor characters that they themselves created in the past as characters in their current work.

Today, I'm mixing it up a bit by looking to the story of Doctor Octopus' adamantium tentacles rather than a specific character.

It began in the tail end of Roger McKenzie's run on Daredevil. Frank Miller had joined the book in Daredevil #158 and Miller and McKenzie eventually clashed a bit on their view of the direction of the series. Marvel ultimately decided to side with Miller in the dispute (which seemed to be a pure case of creative disagreements and not any sort of personal animus between the two creators). So Miller took over the book as the regular writer as well as penciler with Daredevil #168 (Klaus Janson was on the book as the inker before Miller got there. Janson's role increased over time as Miller couldn't write and pencil the book while keeping it on a monthly schedule, so Miller began doing breakdowns and Janson did finishes. Eventually, Miller did extremely loose breakdowns and Janson did pencils and inks over the breakdowns).

Anyhow, in Daredevil #165, Daredevil's girlfriend, Heather Glenn, discovers that her company is secretly doing work with Doctor Octopus, as he is having them built him adamantium tentacles. He debuts them, but Daredevil shows up and takes him down while he is doing the initial tests with the arms...

While he defeated Doc Ock, it is interesting to note that he really didn't eliminate the adamantium arms, right? So you would think that the next time that Doctor Octopus showed up, he would be using these much more powerful arms instead of his normal titanium ones, right?

And yet, when Doctor Octopus next showed up, it was in Captain Americs #259 (by Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, Mike Zeck and Frank McLaughlin) and he was looking to steal Captain America's shield to study it so that he could build new, better arms.

Why does he need new, better arms when he has adamantium arms already? I don't know. It looks like people just decided to ignore the upgrade.

That was clear when he showed up in the Amazing Spider-Man Annual the next year (by Denny O'Neil, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson) using his normal arms...

When he got involved in a long and compelling arc in Spectacular Spider-Man during Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom's run on the book, the arms were the titanium ones...

When he was in Secret Wars (by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck and John Beatty), he also had the traditional arms...

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