THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #30 by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Marte Gracia
A Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock confrontation -- just like old times. The only difference is that one works for Hydra, which happens to have conquered the U.S. government.
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Business as Usual
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As a character, Spider-Man works best when the stakes personally affect him. Whether it’s his identity, loved ones, or career, we most empathize with Spider-Man when the threat hurts him as a human being. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #30 displays these personal stakes in the form of Otto Octavius (i.e. Superior Octopus), who also serves as a stand-in for the much larger Hydra takeover. Thus, Spider-Man’s SECRET EMPIRE tie-in simultaneously sees an attack on the hero while displaying the extent to which his world has been overrun.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Directly following a defeat in D.C., Spider-Man is confronted with the devastating reality that Captain America serves Hydra. Outgunned and outmatched, Spider-Man orders the remaining Avengers to retreat and regroup to form the Resistance. Peter Parker, however, must put his focus elsewhere: Otto Octavius has returned to regain control of Parker Industries. Peter recognizes this threat after Octavius destroys Parker Industries’ London Branch. If Octavius weaponizes the company’s technology, things could become gruesome. Thus, a battle begins between old and new owners for the soul and future direction of the company.

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In many respects, the Parker-Octavius rivalry has been brewing for quite some time. Ever since THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN series, Doc Ock has shared a deeper, almost personal connection to Spider-Man. He briefly lived as Peter and did many things, both good and bad, in his name. This includes the founding of Parker Industries. But where one version of Octavius selflessly returned Peter his body, Superior Octopus is a product of time travel (see the “Spider-Verse” arc). He has not yet made this selfless decision. Therefore, his Hydra-aided vendetta is one fueled by pride and disgust, angry at Parker for putting his founding achievement on an insufficient path.

Dan Slott and Christos Gage‘s writing parallels Spider-Man’s battle against Octavius with that of the rise of SECRET EMPIRE. On a domestic level, Peter must defend Parker Industries in the name of himself, his family, and the Otto Octavius that granted him another chance at life. But as the Superior Octopus, Otto represents the threat that Hydra poses to both the Avengers and the world. The Captain America reveal only adds to that threat, taking a symbol of heroism and turning it into the ultimate betrayal.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Yet, as Peter’s interactions with his employees show, sometimes the new direction isn’t a bad thing. For all the disasters his company has faced, Peter nevertheless demonstrates a willingness to put responsibility over corporate interest. He displays a warmth with workers that contrasts against Otto’s no-nonsense, arrogant attitude. This display of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses is demonstrated during the final fight when Spider-Man finds his new direction tested. Despite gaining loyal allies in battle, Spider-Man underestimates the extent to which Otto played a hand in developing Parker Industry’s technology.

Like many issues before it, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #30’s artwork remains impressive for the most part. The combined talent of Marte Gracia (colorist), Stuart Immonen (penciler) and Wade Von Grawbadger (inker) manage to infuse an impressive amount of detail into each character’s appearance. This works incredibly well for the beginning and ending action sequences, as well as the more upfront conversations between individuals. Unfortunately, the artwork tends to dip when focused on background characters, making them appear flat and featureless. Luckily these images don’t appear that frequently, but when on page, they are hard not to notice.

READ: The “Spider Verse” storyline reunited readers with many different versions of Spider-Man from the past 50-plus years. Here are some of the most memorable ones!

Final Thoughts on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #30

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #30 works well as both a SECRET EMPIRE tie-in and another chapter in Spider-Man’s overarching narrative. It tests the limits of Peter Parker’s two identities by using opponents whose goals for domination mirror one another. While there’s no way to predict how the Spider-Man-Superior Octopus duel will play out, perhaps it will offer insight as to why Spider-Man has yet to play a larger role in the Resistance.

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