REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man #20 – “A Superior Foe Returns!”

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The Amazing Spider-Man#20
Writer: Dan Slott & Christos Gage 
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli  
Inker: Cam Smith & Giuseppe Camuncoli  
Colorist: Jason Keith 
Letterer: Joe Caramagna  
Release Date: 10/19/16
Price: $3.99

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Plot: Doc Ock is back and he’s looking to settle an old score with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! As the first Clone Conspiracy tie-in, The Amazing Spider-Man #20 brings us up to speed on how Otto returns from the grave. For fans of the character, it’s hard not to get excited over his much anticipated return.This issue opens with Spidey entangled in Doc Ock’s arms. How did Spidey’s longtime foe (who’s very much the real deal and not a clone) return? Well sit back and prepare yourselves for a long and detailed explanation courtesy of Doctor Otto Octavious himself.

I’m sure there are more horrible experiences than being in the clutches of your enemy while he talks your ear off. But when your enemy happens to be Doc Ock, nothing truly comes close.

Otto explains that because of his quick thinking he was able to transfer his consciousness into a robotic spider (Octobot). His journey to find a much more suitable vessel has led him to his own grave. There, he discovered that someone took his body as well as other bodies of criminals.

After much travel, Otto eventually ended up at the front door of Jackal where it was revealed that the villain plans on cloning Otto. Doc Ock was always known for being an opportunist, and here, he shows it by leaping into action in order to reclaim what’s his.

“You really let yourself go, didn’t you, Otto?”

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Naturally, reclaiming his body wasn’t gonna be easy for him. Otto once again has to face-off against the mind of Peter Parker. Only it wasn’t actually Peter. The Peter that he went toe-to-toe with was merely a fragment left behind by the real Spidey years ago. It’s a lot of sciencey stuff that factors into this, but that’s not important. What’s important is Otto eventually won and returned his body.

Story: Dan Slott is really good at subverting readers expectations. At first thought, it would seem Slott is setting things up so that Doc Ock removes the evil Jackal from his throne. But that doesn’t happen here. Instead, both villains decide to work together for a common cause: the death of Spider-Man or whatever. Okay, look, I’m not too sure what Jackal’s insidious plan is. The full scope of his intentions aren’t known or rather they aren’t covered in this issue. This is a good thing.

I originally complained about The Clone Conspiracy being a separate book from The Amazing Spider-Man. The decision to not include the event in the main title itself instead of a tie-in baffled me. But as I read this issue, I slowly started to see the reasoning behind the decision.

Slott and Christos Gage used The Amazing Spider-Man #20 to slow things down a bit while The Clone Conspiracy is going on. There’s still action, but this issue is more character driven than what we’ve seen in the first issue of the main event. I like this approach. Hopefully, future issues will focus on different clones and their backstories like this issue did with Otto.

Art: Jason Keith and Giuseppe Camuncoli are a good pairing for this tie-in. Keith’s coloring makes each panel move smoothly. As for the the pencils, Giuseppe Camuncoli does an amazing job! Even though the lack of action limits his skills a bit, he still did a great job at instilling life into each character (Yes, even Doc Ock’s corpse had life). The twisted and maniacal Doc Ock appears more villainous than ever as Camuncoli draws facial expressions were with incredible detail. Honestly, the way his face is drawn is enough to distract me from his goofy haircut. I don’t recall any other artist who’s capable of making me feel this way about Otto.

“It is I. The one true Otto Octavious. The man who cheated death itself!”

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Verdict: The Amazing Spider-Man #20 doesn’t do a lot to push the narrative forward. By the end of the issue Spidey is still at the mercy of Otto. However, the background info on Otto still made this book a satisfying read.

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