As much as I've been using 'trust in Dan Slott' as a mantra to try and roll with the new Superior Spider-Man, Avenging Spider-Man #16 proves that I can just as easily use "trust in Christopher Yost," as he's taken over the other Spidey book to tell tales of Dr. Octopus living in Spider-Man's body.
I'd thought previously that perhaps one of the reasons why this new turn of events hasn't completely grabbed me yet is that 'angrily reluctantly heroic ex-villain version of Spider-Man' was already pretty well handled in Yost's Scarlet Spider series, and thus it feels mildly redundant. However, I do have to admit that Dr. Octopus and Kaine are two very different villains with very different methods of trying to live up to the Spider-Man ideal. Kaine is reckless, violent, foul-mouthed and hates himself, while Otto is careful, diligent, erudite and loves himself with an unbridled arrogance. And with this issue, Yost has set down some seeds for these two villainous Spideys to cross paths.
Undoubtedly, the most fun part of this whole Supey Spidey exercise will be watching how Otto Octavius perceives and responds to dealing with heroes and characters he never really interacted with before. In this issue, he teams up with the X-Men to deal with a weird giant mutant spider rampage throughout the city. This makes even the narration exciting, as he makes a mental rolodex of Peter Parker's memories from Otto Octavius' perspective to familiarize himself with Beast, Storm, Iceman, Shadowcat, Rachel Grey and Wolverine. Rachel is the most dangerous to him, being a telepath who could sniff out Otto's deception.
As he inwardly insults them all, he out-thinks Hank McCoy on how to deal with this spider threat (although it's easily played off because hey, he's still Spider-Man), and then acts on Peter Parker's quiet annoyance with Wolverine's tendency to condescend to him by putting the Canucklehead in his place, straight-up kicking his ass for the indignity of touching him (Wolvie fans, be cool, Logan is of course holding back). That prompts Woofie to try and get Rachel to look into Spidey's head, and it's only by accessing "a little Parker charm." We're still feeling out how the Otto/Peter mind-meld works here. We know the actual Peter Parker is present in some kind of astral subconscious form, thanks to Superior Spider-Man #1, and while the default setting seems to be Otto, it also seems he can either imitate Peter's banter or draw on his memories to bluff out of prickly situations if need be. Plus, Otto has sort of relived all of Peter's formative experiences, so ostensibly he has that sense of responsibility shifting his world view a bit. Chances are, it's just going to work how the story needs it to work for now.
Yost always seems to write an entertaining script, and this is no exception. While it still feels like the novelty of Ock-Spidey will wear off too soon, it's still there at the moment, and seeing Otto snidely deride each X-Man individually is enjoyable. Iceman "seems to like bad jokes even more than Parker" and McCoy is a "blue ape or cat or whatever it is." The art from Paco Medina is also pretty dynamic and slick.
The reveal at the end – that the Jackal has co-opted some genetic storehouses from Mr. Sinister (oh god, what a team-up of clone-fetishists that would be) to create the spider-hybrid creature – is a sure sign that Yost has every intention of having Ock-Spidey collide with Scarlet Spider Kaine, a creation of the Jackal's, somewhere down the line. I do look forward to that, because if anybody can suss out the truth, it'll be Kaine.
I can't believe I care about Kaine. Yost is a miracle-worker. And Avenging Spider-Man should be an interesting ride for as long as he's in control of it.