Spoilers within for The Superior Octopus #1 by Christos Gage, Mike Hawthorne, Wade von Grawbader and Jordie Bellaire.
There hasn’t been a redemption story in big two comics quite like that of Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus. 2013 saw him take over Peter Parker’s body after his own was dying from cancer, a legitimately evil deed that led to a mostly genuine effort to be a better hero than his predecessor in The Superior Spider-Man. Peter wound up getting back in control of his body, of course, but Otto did manage to do good in his own twisted and, frankly, novel ways.
Naturally, the sacrifice he made to die so Peter could live again was undone thanks to hijacking a clone body of Peter in The Clone Conspiracy, leading to him becoming the Superior Octopus, armed with a new set of mechanical tentacles and proving to be an even greater thorn in Peter side when he joined up with Hydra during Secret Empire.
Of course, this wasn’t the end of Otto’s story. The Superior Octopus #1 by Christos Gage, Mike Hawthorne, Wade von Grawbadger and Jordie Bellaire is all about Otto trying to be a new hero and atone for working with Hydra by fleeing to San Francisco in the aims of starting fresh. Not that he was the only superpowered person to join with them during Secret Empire, but he was more active in his choice to do so than many others and the leftover memories from his time in Peter’s body have given him a greater desire to do good than try to take back the success he made while bodysnatching.
To wit, instead of using Spider-drones to patrol the city like he did back in New York, he employs the supervillain team called the Night Shift to keep an eye out for criminal proceedings in San Francisco. And this is only after he’s beaten and threatened them because they were going after the 1% of the city.
With so few heroes on the California coastline — Otto name drops the West Coast Avengers, fully aware of their more comedic attempt at heroism — Otto has a real chance at a fresh start, even if he still hasn’t ironed out all of his faults. He’s still trying to find ways the cheat the system of being a superhero, for one thing (a stockpile of clone bodies he’s keeping as backups are going to be used by the Inheritors as part of the plot of Spider-Geddon, for example). He’s also doing the classic superhero thing of trying to watch over the woman he loves, Ana Marconi (who he dated in his Superior phase) in secret, and he’s pretty bad at keeping it on the down low.
Additionally, Superior Octopus serves as a prelude to Otto becoming Superior Spider-Man yet again, showing that if he’s going to be greater than Peter or Miles Morales, he’ll definitely have to work for it. Otto’s problem has always been that he takes on a lot and handles it all too well, to an almost overkill degree. Having met another version of Peter Parker (The PS4 Spidey) in Spider-Geddon #0 and fixing another one of his messes is probably not going to change that completely when Superior Spider-Man starts up again in December. But Otto could yet prove to be the Spider-Man the West Coast needs… maybe.
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