This week Doc Ock is BACK as the Superior Octopus in Amazing Spider-Man, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meet The Pantheon!
Amazing Spider-Man #29 (Marvel Comics)
Not even The Amazing Spider-Man is free from the grasp of Marvel’s Secret Empire event. Unlike most event tie-ins though, Amazing Spider-Man #29 feels like a natural continuation of the stories Dan Slott has been building up in his run that just happens to dovetail nicely into the latest Marvel mega event. In fact, with this issue being the return of Doctor Octopus, I was looking forward more to this storyline than any other aspect of Secret Empire. Luckily writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage, with artist Stuart Immonen, do not disappoint in the slightest.
Following the events of The Clone Conspiracy, Doctor Otto Octavius has a new lease on life. Living in the body of a “perfected” clone of Peter Parker, Otto has aligned himself with Hydra as a way to continue his experiments and get revenge on Peter Parker. Outfitted in a new suit, the “Superior Octopus” makes his plans known at the London headquarters of Parker Industries, where he does battle with Spider-Man and begins the first phase of his plan to take down the wall crawler.
One of the best things about Amazing Spider-Man #29 is that there’s no need for any knowledge of what has happened in Secret Empire to enjoy it. Too many times these tie-in issues take place in between issues or panels of the main event, so if you aren’t reading the major storyline you’re left clueless as to what is happening. That’s thankfully not the case here, as Slott and Gage go to great lengths to make this feel like more of a natural progression of the past few years of Amazing’s storylines rather than just throwing Spider-Man’s flagship book into the Secret Empire machine just to make a few bucks
Stuart Immonen is still the artist for this series, and I was surprised because I initially thought he would only be on the book for “The Osborn Identity”. It’s great to see that’s not the case, as Immonen has been delivering some of the best art of the year on Amazing. Under his pencils the Ock and Spidey battle does not disappoint, delivering a truly fantastic fight that makes you forget that this is really only the opening issue of the story and not the final one. There’s a few strange character designs by the issue’s end, but nothing that puts a damper on my excitement for Immonen.
If you’re worried that Secret Empire was going to ruin the flow of Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man run, there’s no need to fear. Amazing Spider-Man #29 is still full of all the things that have made Slott’s run enjoyable. You can tell that Slott really enjoys writing Doc Ock, as it really livens up the story whenever he gets to have Otto give another villainous monologue. Here’s hoping that spark can keep this storyline great.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 71 (IDW)
The Turtles have long believed that someone has been pulling their strings, and in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #71, they finally find out who it is. A mythical family of deities known as the Pantheon have secretly met and planned out the goings on in the world, and their youngest member, the witch Kitsune, has been battling the Turtles. Every 100 years the family meets to discuss and plan, but this time Kitsune reveals that she’s going to resurrect their father. Known only as “The Dragon”, he is too powerful to be contained in any mere mortal. But Kitsune has someone in mind for a host. Who could that be?
Well, unfortunately the Turtles arrive and we don’t find out. However, that doesn’t mean that this issue is a total wash. In fact, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #71 is a really solid issue that does a great bit of world building. Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman spend almost the entire issue introducing us to the members of the Pantheon and how they interact with each other. While some of these members are characters we’ve seen before (like Kitsune and The Rat King), a good chunk of them are brand new, and written so well that I really can’t wait to see more of them.
Adding to the Pantheon’s stellar characterizations is the art by Dave Wachter, who delivers some really awesome character designs for The Pantheon. Wachter’s characters are all very distinct with really cool visual looks, but he also does a tremendous job of showcasing their personalities as well. There’s a lot of unspoken moments and glances between the characters that, under Wachter’s pencils, look phenomenal. He really makes the book stand out.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #71 is a really great piece of world building, and that honestly wasn’t something I was expecting from this issue. I went into this thinking it would be a bore (or worse, a glorified recap issue), but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. It’s a testament to the strength of Waltz and Eastman as storytellers that they’re still finding new and interesting things to do with the Heroes in a Half Shell 71 issues into their new series, and I can’t wait to see what they have planned next.