The following contains spoilers for Amazing-Spider-Man #27-30, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
When Spider-Man’s two deadliest enemies clashed recently, it appeared that their animosity toward each other outweighed their hatred of the Wall-Crawler. In Amazing Spider-Man (vol 6.) #27 (Zeb Wells, Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Marcio Menyz, and VC’s Joe Caramagna) Doctor Octopus launched a revenge scheme against the recently reformed Norman Osborn. Doc Ock’s rage stemmed from a vague feeling that Norman had previously outsmarted him and he’d lost something important in the process. He briefly thought he’d redeemed himself as the Superior Spider-Man, a role he sacrificed to stop Norman at the climax of the groundbreaking Superior Spider-Man run. Now, Octavius wanted Norman to feel the same sense of loss he had, even if he was no longer sure what that meant.
Doctor Octopus was on the verge of death in Amazing Spider-Man #700 (Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Chris Eliopoulos), when he diabolically switched bodies with Peter Parker, leaving the hero to perish in his place. Replacing Peter as the new Superior Spider-Man, Octavius endeavored to cause even more devastation than before, but the remnants of Parker’s spirit influenced him to try and be a hero, even if he was more merciless and arrogant than his predecessor. For several months, Octavius grew in his role as the new Spider-Man, but when confronted with the threat of the Green Goblin and his Goblin Nation wreaking havoc across New York, he came to the painful realization that only the original Spider-Man could stop him. Using a mindscape device in Superior Spider-Man (vol 1.) #30 (Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Giuseppe Camuncoli, John Dell, Terry Pallot), Otto reluctantly sacrificed himself including his memories of his heroic deeds and love for Anna Maria Marconi, so Peter could reclaim his body and defeat the Green Goblin.
Norman Has Repeatedly Discarded Doctor Octopus’s Heroism
Tragically, this would not be the only time Otto would have his hopes for redemption destroyed by Norman Osborn. Sometime later, in Superior Spider-Man (vol 2.) #1 (Christos Gage, Mike Hawthorne, Wade von Grawbadger, Clayton Cowles), Otto attained a new body and adopted the name of Elliot Tolliver. He assumed the identity of the Superior Spider-Man once more and was again bedeviled by Norman Osborn, except this version was an even more sinister six-armed variant from Earth-4415. Realizing that he was too heroic to match this Norman Osborn’s ruthlessness, he summoned the demon lord Mephisto, just like Peter Parker had once done. Otto struck a deal with Mephisto to restore his original body and villainous mind in order to defeat Osborn. Octavius successfully stopped his nemesis, but he had now twice sacrificed his future dreams because a version of Osborn had put him in an untenable situation.
Otto has felt lost since then, torn between his villainous instincts and vague memories of striving to be a better person. While he has reverted to his villainous ways, he has occasionally shown reluctance to carry out his evil plans, such as in Sinister War #4 (Nick Spencer, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, and VC’s Joe Caramagna), when he subdued the rest of the Sinister Six while allowing Spider-Man to live. Otto has changed, but the gaps in his memory and the trauma of losing his heroic identity have made him more dangerous and unstable. With his return in Amazing Spider-Man, Otto sought to heal himself by making the architect of his pain, Norman Osborn, suffer the same way he has.
Octopus Wants Gold Goblin to Lose Everything – Including His Redemption
In an arc running through Amazing Spider-Man (vol 6.) #27-30 (Zeb Wells, Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Marcio Menyz, and VC’s Joe Caramagna), Doctor Octopus launched an assault on Oscorp and its CEO, Norman Osborn, who had recently adopted the heroic identity of the Gold Goblin. Octavius was convinced Norman’s heroism was a ruse, and he set out to reveal his true evil nature. When Norman asks Otto why he can’t accept that he has truly changed, Otto roars back, “Because I wasn’t allowed to!” With this outburst, Doctor Octopus is struck with a fleeting flashback of how he had once been the Superior Spider-Man. Repressing his subconscious memories, Otto injects his captured foe with the goblin serum in order to revive his villainous Green Goblin persona.
In the end, Doctor Octopus’s plan doesn’t work. Otto is not the first villain to target Norman for his crimes as the Green Goblin. Norman had previously been attacked by Chasm, so this time he came prepared. With a timely assist from Spider-Man, Norman defeated Octavius once more. As he retreats in humiliation, Otto fails to understand that his vengeful actions won’t restore what Norman took from him. Octavius’ journey from villainy to heroism as the Superior Spider-Man demonstrated his capacity for change. His decision to sacrifice his own desires for the greater good was a testament to his potential for redemption. However, his attempt to kill Norman Osborn for sabotaging his life as a hero ironically pushes Otto down an even darker path. By trying to destroy the source of his pain, he let his hatred twist him into an even greater monster.
Otto’s Hatred of Norman Only Leads Him Further Astray
It’s possible that the current iteration of Doctor Octopus lacks the ability to truly grow as he once did. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that the secret to Otto’s redemption was the influence of Peter’s spirit on his actions or even the biology of Peter Parker’s brain. The memories Otto absorbed from his former nemesis when he took over his body helped guide him toward heroism. When he lost that, he also lost his ability to grow and change. However, Otto Octavius was supposedly a decent person before the atomic accident melded him with his robotic tentacles. Unlike Norman Osborn, who needed his sins supernaturally cleansed from him, Otto retains some innate morality deep within himself. This is best demonstrated by his love for others, like Peter Parker’s Aunt May and Anna Maria Marconi.
While revenge might temporarily satisfy Octavius’ wounded ego, it cannot mend the fractures in his psyche. If he truly wishes to be a hero and find his own redemption, he must confront his own demons and past traumas, and make conscious choices to align with the values and principles of heroism. By letting go of his desire for vengeance, he can forge a new path for himself and define it through his own choices rather than the actions of others. Octavius can still redeem himself, not by seeking revenge, but by embracing personal growth and making amends for his villainy. The only question is whether he is up to the task.
Doctor Octopus blames Norman Osborn for stealing his redemption in Marvel Comics. But will revenge against the former Green Goblin solve anything? Read More