WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Marvel Zombie #1 by W. Maxwell Prince, Stefano Raffaele and Juan Ferreyra, on sale now.
Marvel Comics villain Doctor Octopus is the thematic fusion of man and cephalopod, which, if the internet has taught us anything, is fertile ground for "creative reimagining." Many of those multiversal takes on the character have been riffs on Otto Octavius' misguided mad scientist persona, opting to present the supervillain as a leaner, more fit, more dangerous version of his canonical counterpart. Some, however, go the opposite direction, acknowledging that, at his core, Doc Ock is a villain who fashioned himself as part man, part beast. Artistically, there's a lot of hijinks you can get up to when you accept that your subject is inherently unhinged in this manner.
Such is the case in the recent Marvel Zombie #1, a horror-themed one-shot that returns to the idea of a Marvel Universe overrun by zombies, first established in Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips' Marvel Zombies #1 in 2006. The one-shot doesn't boast any overt ties to that miniseries, opting instead to fashion a zombie-ruled post-apocalypse of its own devise. What it does provide, however, is perhaps the most disgusting version of Doctor Octopus yet.
But saying that is a bit like handing out the trophies before the race has even begun. If we're to establish the most disgusting Doctor Octopus in the Marvel Universe, we have to be methodical about it -- scientific, even. Before we get to the pure gross-out nature of Marvel Zombie's Doc Ock, let's take a look at what the minds of Marvel have fashioned for Otto up to this point -- let's count down the grossest Doctor Octopi of the Marvel Universe.
Baron Victor Octavius
To find our first gross Doc Ock, we'll need travel back in time -- to the year 1602, to be exact. While many Marvel Comics writers are reticent to acknowledge Doctor Octopus' animal side, Jeff Parker and Ramon Rosanas' Spider-Man 1602 miniseries had no such holdups. In fact, the duo leaned into it hard, resulting in an alternate reality version of the villain named Baron Victor Octavius.
First appearing in Spider-Man 1602 #1, Baron Victor Octavius is a mixture of the Spider-Man villain and Victor von Doom who has resorted to a strange cocktail of science and magic to cure himself of the plague. In this instance, the villain has imprisoned versions of Hank Pym, Janet van Dyne and Beast to create a regenerative serum. The serum has unintended side effects, though, causing him to grow new limbs that emerge in the form of -- you guessed it -- tentacles.
Doctor Octopus as a character is ripe for Lovecraftian fusion, so it was only a matter of time before someone committed and brought a squid kid Doc Ock to the page.
King Ock technically isn't another version of Otto Octavius, but he is an alternate reality version of Doctor Octopus. Yeah, identity in comic books is weird like that. Regardless, it doesn't make King Ock's story any less disgusting. See, King Ock was originally introduced in Civil War Vol. 2 #3 during the Secret Wars event, so, naturally, it takes place in Battleworld, that nebulous realm where anything is possible and frequently gross.
Doc Ock's tale starts in the Warzone area of Battleworld, where the battle over the Superhuman Registration Act never ended. In Warzone, Iron Man and Captain America duke it out eternally in a war where the stakes are constantly upped, each one looking for any advantage they can muster. Spider-Man discovers Tony's biggest advantage when he runs a raid for Captain America. That advantage is a creature that is equal parts valuable and deadly.
The creature is King Ock, the corpse of Wilson Fisk. Apparently, Kingpin thought it would be a good idea at some point to nab Otto's mechanical arms for himself, but the moment he attached them to his spine they electrocuted him, killing him instantly (they really liked their owner). The A.I. inside the limbs remained active and alive, though, earning its keep by doling out weapons for Iron Man. They also shuffle around with the corpse of Kingpin attached. Fun!