by Mike Costa (Writer), Michael Dialynas (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: With Spider-Ock and the rest of the team figuring out the mystery behind the time-travelling Doctor Octopus and Abomination, it’s time to bring the fight to Dr. Jude.

The Review: With how capes comics are usually written nowadays, it’s hard not to perceive them as long-form storytelling, divided in arcs in order to reach their endgame near the end of their run. It was thus in runs like Green Lantern by Geoff Johns, Batman by Grant Morrison, Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis and countless other ongoing past and present. With such forms of storytelling, it’s rare to see simple stories being told and completed with a small number of issues, with the simple goal of bringing entertainment without caring too much about repercussions or continuity.

With the Arms of the Octopus, Mike Costa achieves this simple yet fun method of plot writing. With some twists, action and some clever characterization, Costa made this story rather enjoyable in the previous issues, putting Spider-Ock, the past X-Men and the Hulk in front as they collaborated to solve the mystery of the time-travelling Doctor Octopus. However, does Costa maintains the fun and give the readers a satisfactory conclusion in his very last chapter?

This issue does succeed with both terms, albeit in different ways. The more traditional approach to super hero stories work quite well as the heroes defeat the villain in a way that is on par with previous storytelling methods. They defeat the villain of the piece, Dr. Jude not with fisticuffs but with some clever thinking and cooperation on everyone’s part. It’s part throwback to tales from the 60’s and the 70’s with a modern twist that makes this quite enjoyable for those looking for something competent storytelling. It might not be the most ambitious, but it does its job fairly well.

Where it works, for the most part, is in how Costa shows the characterization, with his Spider-Ock being particularly well-done. The arrogance, the intelligence and the methodology of Otto as Spider-Man is well reproduced within those pages, with him cooperating with everyone, yet also taking charge as he is willing to do. Considering the final chapter is a Superior Spider-Man Team-Up special issue, it is quite fitting that he is mostly the focus here.

The other characters are not bad as well, with Bruce Banner, Iceman and Beast being sufficiently covered and written in character enough that they manage to contribute to the story and bring entertainment. Some of the other characters aren’t nearly as good, though, with Cyclops and Jean Grey being barely present in terms of contribution to the plot, while Dr. Jude is not exactly the most memorable of villain. He do bring the story full circle and manage to give plenty of opportunity for clever actions, yet his character in itself is a bit bland.

The story and the resolution are also pretty bland, yet Costa balances things out with some catchy dialogue along with a good deal of action scenes, like Spider-Ock saving the X-Men from an helicopter fall, or when they actually fight Dr. Jude. The conclusion is quick and hopeful, yet those who came here hoping for something that may stick in the long-term plans of Spider-Ock or the Marvel universe at large may feel a bit disappointed. The dialogue, though, is very good as it has a good display of who the characters are, has plenty of humor and allows for some exposition without being tedious. Parts of this story are a bit hard to appreciate, but it is fairly enjoyable when looked as a whole.

Where it falls a bit short is in the art department, with Michael Dyalinas having a certain style that doesn’t really bring out the better elements quite well. His characters looks fine, if a bit unrefined in terms of lines, with some of them being kind of rough, but where her fails the most is with the expressions. Basically, they are perhaps a tad too cartoonish, combining a certain simplicity with hyperbole with the emotions that don’t really convey the tone very well. While the cartoony style suit the story just fine, there is a certain lack of details in terms of backgrounds along with other areas that does a bit of disservice to the general story. Not everything is bad on his part, of course, as the panel layout makes the story flow well, while the action is energetic enough that it seems to pop out of the pages. Dyalinas might not be great with details and faces, but he is decent in other areas in ways that balance things out a bit.

Rachelle Rosenberg is good here, though, with her style never going overboard as she let the colors flow in the panels without creating chaos or severe clashes. There are always major elements in most panels that create contrasts, like grey robots against red backgrounds, or sunsets set against the Hulk with a grey silo. There isn’t a whole diversity of colors, yet the more subdued choice do allow for a stronger focalization on the lower amount of details and elements in most panels.

The Conclusion
: There may be problems with the art and the story may not be the most engaging, yet the dialogue, characterization, fun factor and the colorization manage to bring this whole tale to a rather satisfying, though non-ambitious end.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière