Comics Reviews

Marvel’s Doc Ock Meets Multiverse Variants

Zac Thompson and Davide Tinto tell a compelling story about trauma in Devil’s Reign: Superior Four while highlighting what makes Doc Ock so iconic.

During the Kingpin’s war with Daredevil and New York City’s other vigilantes, Doc Ock followed his ambitions. In Devil’s Reign: Superior Four #1 by Zac Thompson, Davide Tinto, and Matt Milla, Doc Ock attempts to capitalize on the strengths of his Multiversal counterparts by teaming up with them. The comic is a rewarding exploration of Doc Ock’s psyche as he aggressively confronts his inferiority complex with deadly consequences. Though the book’s outlandish premise may catch some readers off-guard, it is a rewarding read that spotlights the core qualities that make Doc Ock one of Marvel’s best bad boys.

Devil’s Reign: Superior Four #1 opens with Doctor Octopus as he reflects on his childhood and those of his Multiversal variants. By using the Bridge, a dimensional gateway housed in the Baxter Building, Doc Ock can travel into other realities. This device allows him to recruit a team of Ottos who mirror the Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine. On their first mission, the so-called Superior Four discover that versions of Otto Octavius are not present in every reality. After adjusting his calculations, Doc Ock leads his team to a world where his variant is still the Superior Spider-Man. However, upon meeting his counterpart, Otto reveals his actual plan, which spells doom for other Doc Ock’s from across the Multiverse.

RELATED: Marvel Merges Doc Ock and [SPOILER] Into the SUPREME Spider-Man Villain

Writer Zac Thompson crafts a remarkable tale in Devil’s Reign: Superior Four #1. Thompson unleashes a wealth of high-concept ideas throughout the issue, bringing Ock’s quartet to alternate Earths that reflect the character’s damaged psyche. The journeys to these worlds are a lot of fun, masking the book’s deeper themes. Like Thompson’s novella The Replacer, which used body horror to contemplate grief, the writer uses Doc Ock’s reflections to explore people’s responses to trauma. Otto’s confrontation with the Superior Spider-Man is particularly heartbreaking, highlighting just how far the former hero has fallen in recent years.

Artist Davide Tinto, who previously showed an aptitude for crafting breathtaking worlds in Commanders in Crisis, delivers some of his best work in Devil’s Reign: Superior Four. As Doc Ock travels between alternate Earths, Tinto makes each reality distinct with immersive atmospheres, changing skylines, and creative fauna. Additionally, each Otto counterpart gives a unique spin to their inspiration, with the Hulk-Ock sprouting extra appendages out of his body, Ghost Rider-Ock using chains to get around, and Wolverine-Ock slicing through his enemies with terrifying adamantium tendrils. These designs flourish thanks in part to the beautiful coloring of Matt Milla, whose color palette harkens back to the traditional Marvel aesthetic with an otherworldly twist. In particular, the bacterial yellows and greens of Fresh Frond City’s Superior Spider-Man help make the hero’s design one of the most captivating visuals of the issue.

RELATED: Devil’s Reign Just Set a Classic Spider-Man Villain Up to Take the Kingpin Down

As Marvel continues to mine the Multiverse for all its worth, Devil’s Reign: Superior Four shows that the concept of a person encountering their counterparts can be a recipe for some fascinating self-reflection. While Otto’s variants wield various special abilities and vibrant personalities, their consistent qualities allow Doc Ock’s true self to shine. By focusing on how these variants are the same, readers gain a new appreciation for Earth-616’s Doc Ock. It is refreshing to see that even amid a spectacle-fueled event tie-in, Otto’s character is what determines the story’s narrative.

Devil’s Reign: Superior Four #1 is a wild ride that beautifully balances outrageous action with contemplative character work. Zac Thompson layers his script with comedic beats, depressing revelations, and intriguing dynamics between the core cast that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Davide Tinto and Matt Milla make the story a visual feast, with fun fights, mesmerizing worlds, and striking designs. With Daredevil keeping Kingpin’s forces busy in the core Devil’s Reign event, Superior Four gives Doctor Octopus a much-appreciated moment to shine.

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