By: Christopher Yost (Writer), Marco Checchetto (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: Spider-Ock is stuck in his head for a nightmarish introspection. Sounds like a cue for an obscure character team-up!

The Review: Well, this is quite a jump in partner. First starting with the X-Men, then the Future Foundation, with Thor next, it seems that this title wanted to be a little bit more experimental with the choice of guest-star.

This time, Yost chose a much more obscure character called Sleepwalker, one that I’ve actually never heard of, which is oddly a very smart choice. By putting such a smaller character with the marketing beast that is Spider-Man (even the Spider-Ock version), it can makes for unpredictable stories with lesser-known character, putting the spotlight on them to allow us readers to see their potential. Of course, it works rather well on paper, but it is not quite the same in the execution here.

Bluntly put, Sleepwalker is not particularly interesting in this issue. While his role in this issue is primordial, he is just not that important in the conflict and the introduction to the concept of whom and what he is isn’t done very well. He does explain some of the key concepts of what he does to us, but he holds close to no weight on the resolution and the conflict to actually matter in this issue. This does not make a very good introduction to a character that has a concept ripe with potential.

However, it does find more use in the concept of Spider-Ock, as we get a better handle of some of his psyche that has been presented in Superior Spider-Man. We get to see the fears of Otto as well as how Peter still has a strong presence even in his dreams, which is a rather nice development and concept. The way they present Otto’s father as a haunting presence in his mind made for some rather chilling and well thought-out moment. The fact that Otto is beginning to take even more on the role of Spider-Man as a weapon in his psyche was also a nice touch, something that I really hope will be used in the main series. I have to say, the more I learn about Otto and his past, the more he kind of grows on me.

If there is something that is growing on me, albeit in a much bigger way, it would be Marco Checchetto’s art, which manages to be big, detailed and absolutely beautiful. I loved him on Punisher, but here, he just shines brilliantly, drawing huge monsters, horrific bleakness and action all together to make a visual experience that is quite pleasing. His huge black octopus monster as well as his black goo monsters is really well designed, managing to show the wild terrors inhabiting Otto’s mind. However, Checchetto is not exactly to his peak form when it comes to human expressions in this issue, as some of the faces, particularly those of the more human characters. Still, he gives us plenty of emotions in the mannerism and the poses of the character, catching up on the small weakness found in the facial expressions of his characters. However, Checchetto cannot take the whole credit for this issue, as Rachelle Rosenberg does manage to liven things up quite a bit with her astounding color work. If it wasn’t for her work in differencing the two realms, nightmare and reality, the issue would really be much duller. Her hellish vision of the worst fears of Otto by accentuating the darker and warmer color works really well, as does the enhancement of the colder and duller one for the reality scenes.

The Conclusion: While it does not take full advantage of its team-up structure by putting a rather dull introduction to Sleepwalker, this issue still manage to be interesting thanks to amazing art and a rather well thought-out introspection on Otto Octavius.

Grade: B-

Hugo Robberts Larivière

Some Musing: If this title now takes more advantage of the lesser known characters of the Marvel universe, which character would you like to see featured here? Me, I’d love to see Hercules, as it makes quite some time since we’ve seen the lion of Olympus.