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  1. #1
    Stu's Avatar
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    Stu is offline Marvel Animation Age Webmaster
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    Dr. Octopus In Animation - A Retrospective

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    Time for another retrospective! I've recently been adding the older ones to the main MAA site and got jonesing for some more and I thought I'd look back on one of my favourite Spider-Man villains - Dr. Octopus himself! Updates should appear daily, and as always, images appear courtesty of Marvel Animation Age. Enjoy the retrospective!

    _________________________________________________

    Back in 1963, Spider-Man was brought back from his initial appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 he was of course given his book, The Amazing Spider-Man. When he received the upgrade from one shot to monthly the thing he would need most is a rouges gallery to get in the way of his dates with Betty Brant. Having previously fought The Chameleon, The Vulture and The Tinkerer, Stan Lee told artist Steve Dikto that he wanted a villain with eight arms for Spidey to fight and with Dikto’s unmatched originality Dr. Octopus was born and debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #3.

    Doc Ock quickly became one of the favourites in regards to supervillains and if memory serves, was the fist of Spidey’s rouges to make a second appearance in Amazing Spider-Man. In the fall of 1967, Spider-Man made his debut on ABC with an all-new animated series and who else should appear in the very first episode other than Doc Ock.



    The premiere, The Power Of Dr. Octopus to me, stands as one of the series best. For those who haven’t seen the show, it’s quite possibly the cheesiest thing you’ll ever see that doesn’t star Adam West but at times, it was great fun and a good laugh. Spider-Man himself is at his best in the premiere, with a never-ending string of one-liners at the expense the villain of the piece. This show worked far better as a comedy than an action show but the sheer amount of cheese will no doubt put many off. The hooky designs, the voice acting, sound effects and constantly repeated animation are all part of it’s charm to me. The show was clearly done on the cheap but I think it helps emphasise the tone the show was trying to go for. This episode is probably the most quoteable of the bunch;

    Ocatvius: My plan is simple.
    Spider-Man: Just like you!

    Jameson: Now tell me exactly what happened!
    Betty: Well, Spider-Man…
    Jameson: Enough! Enough! I don’t wanna hear another word!


    Octavius himself isn’t the show’s best villain (that esteemed honour is surely deserved by Mysterio!) but he’s not too bad aside from his purple tracksuit (sadly lacking a gay hood ornament). As with most villains in the show, there’s no attempt to develop him or explain his origin, he’s simply a villain with four mechanical arms and wants money. As with all ransom demands on the show, he approaches J. Jonah Jameson, the fearless publisher of The Daily Bugle for payment. Spider-Man, none too impressed with Ock’s plans of blowing up his crib, eventually defeated Ock by tying him up with his web. It’s not too bad an episode if you know what to expect going into it but if you’ve never seen the show before… prepare yourself if you ever do get the chance to sit down and watch it.



    Doc Ock would make one more appearance in the show, with the intention of stealing a rocket. It’s never quite explained what he wanted the rocket for, but alas, Dr Octopus has stolen a rocket and Spider-Man must stop him! The Terrible Triumph Of Dr. Octopus isn’t as memorable as the opening episode but it’s still pretty good. I remember being quite impressed with the fight that took place outside the building where the rocket was being presented. Ock’s design remained unchanged and his voice actor was pretty good in the role but there are better episodes to be found in the show (and yes, most of them star Mysterio.)

    Given how bad the second and third seasons were, I’m glad Dr. Octopus never appeared again.
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  2. #2
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    Ah Doc Ock, arguably spider man's arch nemesis, or at least his most consistent throught his 40+ year history. I remember seeing maybe a few minutes of The Power of Doctor Octopus, thought it was a fun romp( and yes Mysterio ruled that show ).

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu
    Time for another retrospective! I've recently been adding the older ones to the main MAA site
    Er, where?

    As a matter of fact, I saw The Power of Dr. Octopus on Youtube yesterday, but with spoofy dialogue dubbed in - in Spanish (yielded by "1981 Spider-Man". Odd.). It was still pretty easy to follow, but yes, I saw it in English afterward. If that's some of the series' best... well, I guess I'm one of the folks who doesn't like it. It felt more like a full-length story's third act than a story unto itself.

    And why would he need a rocket if he can blow up half the city already?
    Last edited by Caswin; 11-05-2006 at 09:38 PM.
    "There's no need to tread lightly upon my feelings. I'm the first one to admit that Superman is my arch-enemy, and that he alone stands between me and my goal - but I shall find a way to deal with him..." - Lex Luthor, Atom Man vs. Superman

    (Well, it was worth a go.)

  4. #4
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    Stu is offline Marvel Animation Age Webmaster
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caswin
    Er, where?
    That's for you to find out! I'm nearly done, I just have a little tweaking to do before I announce them.

    I'll be adding this one to it once I've completed it.
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  5. #5
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    Spider-Man didn’t receive his own show in the 70’s and had to settle for a few guest spots on Spider-Woman, and since none of his rouges gallery showed up in that show, we’ll have to move onto Spider-Man’s 1980’s cartoons to view Dr. Octopus’ next animated appearance.

    Marvel decided to break into the animation business in the 1980’s and believed that the best way to do this was to create their own animation studio with the dream of getting Spider-Man on network TV. Marvel funded this entire operation themselves and set up a deal to syndicate the previous 67 Spider-Man series and add new episodes to freshen the deal. So, in 1981 a new Spider-Man cartoon debuted. Taking its cue from the 67 cartoon, the show followed college student Peter Parker and his exploits as Spider-Man whilst he worked for irate publisher J. Jonah Jameson taking pictures of Spider-Man and romancing his secretary Betty Brant. The show clearly had a bigger budget than the 60’s show (what didn’t?) and because the show was to be recorded in the States, the show was recast and the models were changed. So ‘officially’ the show is in continuity with the 67 show but they have different tones, voices, models so it’s pretty much a completely different show.




    Going back to the models, they were a big improvement on all fronts. The show managed to translate the legendary artwork of John Romita Sr. nicely, with simple, clean models that animated fairly well. Spider-Man himself looked especially great, not too bulky but not too skinny either. I’m a sucker for Romita Sr’s work so I admit to being biased but I think that the Romita look works well in animation. With Spider-Man coming to DVD again next year, I wouldn’t be upset if they went down this route again – hell, I’d probably be thrilled.

    The story is typical of the 80’s but still really enjoyable. I don’t remember a whole lot about this show but this particular episode revolves around Dr. Octopus stealing things in order to make his tentacles more powerful. Ock’s design is quite snazzy, I actually really like the black and orange colouring, it fits better than the green one suit of the comics. There’s a few typical 80’s stuff in here the biggest one being Ock’s submarine looking like it came straight from a toy shelf from Toys R Us. The episode isn’t especially memorable but it’s entertaining enough. It’s a shame the show never really went into the origins of it’s villains, I think it would’ve helped a lot of the episodes and Doc Ock is no exception.

    The good Dr would appear once again in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends in a bit role but he would have a long wait ahead of him. Whilst Octavius was the first villain to be animated in both previous Spider-Man shows, he didn’t appear until season three of Spidey friends! Spider-Man Meets The Girl From Tomorrow features Spidey falling in love upon sight with some bird from the future (it’s not just a clever title folks) and helps them rebuild their spaceship. He later decides to leave everything behind and swan off this girl until her Father tells him that he’ll pretty much kill their entire planet because he’s none of them have the anti-bodies they’d need to survive around him. The episode is perhaps best known for the small kiss Spider-Man and Firestar share after he decides to leave. Such a sweet little moment. Doc Ock does bugger all in the episode really. He is voiced by the legend that is Michael Bell, so they get bonus points anyway!



    By far the greatest animated appearance of Dr. Octopus in the 80’s was oddly enough in The Incredible Hulk and oddly enough, he once again appears in the first episode in production order! Anyone who’s read any of the previous retrospectives I’ve done will no doubt be aware that I think The Incredible Hulk is the balls but if you want more on that, check out the Hulk retrospective (I warn you, I rattled on for some time). The episode in question sees Dr. Banner randomly changing into The Hulk due to radiation being emitted from Gamma base. Bell once again returns to voice Doc Ock, as of course, he voices Bruce Banner in the show to begin with. The show didn’t have that many memorable villains and Doc Ock probably stands amongst the best of them. In a rather amusing scene, The Hulk ties Ock’s tentacles together to defeat him and Ock is shown still struggling to untangle them in prison in the epilogue.

    Given that he appeared in all three Marvel shows that Marvel produced in the 80's, he could be considered one of the biggest villains of the decade. None of the appearances were especially brilliant, but considering the time the shows aired we were lucky he wasn't completely butchered. Networks were notoriously fickle about supervillains in the 1980's, most of them were demanded to be comic relief rather than truly threatening. Thankfully, Ock's next animated appearance faired better.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu
    That's for you to find out!
    You mean like... er... that one other page? (Oh, and I haven't found any yet, but I thought you might want to know that some of the "Spider-Man: The New Animated Series" pages title themselves "The New Amimated Series".)
    Quote Originally Posted by Stu
    I'm nearly done, I just have a little tweaking to do before I announce them.
    That won't include expanding just a little on Avengers: United They Stand, will it? So it had stupid battle armor, left out almost every Avenger anyone cared about except Ant Man, and was overall in many ways subpar - but it still ran for a season, had good animation, and was the only real extended appearance of said superhero team. And the intro was at least better than Fantastic Four/Iron Man season one.
    "There's no need to tread lightly upon my feelings. I'm the first one to admit that Superman is my arch-enemy, and that he alone stands between me and my goal - but I shall find a way to deal with him..." - Lex Luthor, Atom Man vs. Superman

    (Well, it was worth a go.)

  7. #7
    The Overlord is offline Senior Member
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    Slight correction Stu, Vulture was the first villain to make a repeat appearance , not Doc Ock.

  8. #8
    Stu's Avatar
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    Stu is offline Marvel Animation Age Webmaster
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caswin
    That won't include expanding just a little on Avengers: United They Stand, will it? So it had stupid battle armor, left out almost every Avenger anyone cared about except Ant Man, and was overall in many ways subpar - but it still ran for a season, had good animation, and was the only real extended appearance of said superhero team. And the intro was at least better than Fantastic Four/Iron Man season one.
    To be honest, probably not. I'll be blunt, I've had about 90% of my Avengers: United They Stand site completed on my HD for months but it just keeps getting pushed back because of other site stuff, the 9-5 and my inability to stay in on a Saturday night. It should hopefully be up shortly. Perhaps perodic PMs from Arsenal telling me to get my arse in gear will help?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Overlord
    Slight correction Stu, Vulture was the first villain to make a repeat appearance , not Doc Ock.
    Really? Am I right in thinking Ock appeared in #3, then #12 as his second appearance? If The Vulture debuted in #2, what issue featured his sophmore appearance?
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  9. #9
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    By the time Spider-Man: The Animated Series aired in 1994, audiences (and networks) had changed. Gone were the squeaky clean fun of the 80’s, superheroes with character were back in due to the success of Batman and X-Men and expectations were high for Spidey’s triumphant return to Saturday morning.

    In the first season especially, the show had consistently strong stories and animation and I personally loved it back in the day, I couldn’t get enough. I remember my next door neighbour would come round to watch it with my brother and I and we would guess which villain was going to appear this week. (When The Rhino appeared in The Alien Costume, Part One I won the best and was thus rewarded the finest can of coke anyone ever drank). These were the days before everything’s already revealed on the internet and you were literally clueless as to who was going to appear this week. Even episode titles were unknown before you sat down to watch the show.



    I remember especially looking forward to seeing Dr. Octopus appear, because I was more knowledgeable about him than most of the other villains in the show. (I remember my neighbour and I asking my brother who the dude in yellow in the opening credits was, so no, I wasn’t winning any bets with The Alien Costume, Part Two). If memory serves, I had the Doc Ock figure before the episode aired too. I remember buying most of the first wave in a single trip the very first time we saw them because we had a hell of a time trying to find the X-Men figures and my Mum just said “screw it!” and bought the lot there and put them away for Christmas. Bare in mind, this was early September time and I had to look past the figures to get into the bathroom to brush my teeth every morning. Do you have any idea how hard it is for an eight year old to walk past toys that he won’t be allowed to open for months on end? Perhaps my cruellest childhood memory – it’s a sad subject in the Hamilton household, even to this day.

    Anyway, back to the episode. Dr. Octopus: Armed And Dangerous introduced the villain and stands as one of the show’s best episodes rarely seems to make it onto anyone’s top five list. Perhaps it stands as a forgotten classic?

    Octavius isn’t just some generic supervillain here – he is an embittered scientist looking for revenge and hoping to use it to fund his experiments. Doc Ock planned to master fusion in hopes of finding a new energy source. His funding was originally paid for by Anastasia Hardy - Felicia’s Mother. When she shut off the grant Octavius funded the experiment himself without the safety barriers - the resulting explosion caused by the accident wielded his metallic arms to his spine and gave him control over them. He then kidnapped Felicia and demanded a ransom to release her. I was especially impressed with the abduction scene, Octavius brakes into her room, kidnaps her and makes quick work of Peter, without saying a word and letting his arms do all the work. You can really tell that the storyboard artists were working hard here which simply wasn’t found in the later episodes – the episode is bursting with small little touches – Peter’s reluctance to introduce himself to Otto as a child, the FBI agent helping Mrs Hardy into her chair as she informed him of her abduction and Peter placing his hand on Mrs Hardy’s shoulder to comfort her whilst Jameson read the message out over the news. If these production standards had maintained throughout the show’s run, I believe it would be remembered in a much better light.



    Octavius believed that science justified any crimes he might commit because he was intending to do good with it. He even says it in the episode;

    “Their laughter is meaningless. Science is the important thing – it justifies all that we do in its service”.

    The show had an original twist in it from the comics, here, Dr. Octavius was a former teacher of Peter when he was a child and from the looks of things, had a great influence on Peter as a young man, especially in regards to his passion for science. Peter even mentions that the quote above is something that he would “never forget”. It was all wonderful stuff, the story, the character and even the dialogue was a cut above average and believe it or not, the show looked stunning!

    TMS outdid themselves here with outstanding staging, even better animation and stunning storyboard. The fights in this episode actually look like they hurt, it’s great fun watching Doc Ock effortlessly pummel Spider-Man with his tentacles and then watching Spidey dodge his arms in the warehouse. Pretty DVD screen captures simply don’t do the episode justice this is an episode you have to watch to truly enjoy. The episode is simply so well put together that it’s honestly hard to fault. The show’s usual flows – poor editing, choppy animation and crap fight scenes aren’t present. It also has a nice slower pace that simply never happened in the later seasons.




    Special mention must go to Efrem Zimbalist, Jr the actor who portrayed Dr. Octopus. Whilst he is probably best known to most of us as Alfred from Batman: The Animated Series Zimbalist was excellent as the deranged Doctor and really did bring a lot to the role. The dialogue helped him tremendously of course but he delivers it with such finesse, again, it’s simply hard to find fault in the episode. There's some great, great lines in here.

    Octopus: Spider-Man! You're making a career of interferance!
    Spider-Man: Some career! No salary, no vacation and talk about on the job health hazards!

    Octavius: Did you really expect your pathetic webs to stop me?
    Spider-Man: It was a throught!
    Octavius: Don't waste your time thinking, it may very well be the last thought you ever have!


    The one thing I do have a grievance about however, is his design. Not only did it look silly, but it doesn’t fit the character in the slightest. This isn’t some battle suit designed to protect him or whatever, Octavius is a scientist, not a supervillain – why dress him up like one? I think the Eric Larsen white suit or even a trench coat look would’ve fit him better. As it stands though, the armour just looks a little daft. A small sour note on an otherwise amazing episode. On another note, you've got to love that creepy ending too.

    "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage"

    But would the rest follow up to the spectacular standards set by Dr. Octopus: Armed And Dangerous?
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  10. #10
    The Overlord is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu
    To be honest, probably not. I'll be blunt, I've had about 90% of my Avengers: United They Stand site completed on my HD for months but it just keeps getting pushed back because of other site stuff, the 9-5 and my inability to stay in on a Saturday night. It should hopefully be up shortly. Perhaps perodic PMs from Arsenal telling me to get my arse in gear will help?



    Really? Am I right in thinking Ock appeared in #3, then #12 as his second appearance? If The Vulture debuted in #2, what issue featured his sophmore appearance?
    Vulture came back in issue 7, while Doc Ock reappeated in issues 11 and 12.

    Here's a question, is Doc Ock German or not? In Spider-Man TAS and the PS1 game Efrem Zimbalist Jr. gave Ock a German accent, but he didn't have a German accent in any other cartoons or the movies. According to the comics Doc Ock was born in Schenectady, New York State, so it be odd that he would have a German accent, unless in Spider-man TAS and in the PS1 game he wasn't born in the US and moved to the US from Germany, which would be different from the comics, movies, etc.

    Now Ock's civilian name is Otto Gunther Octavius, Otto and Gunther sound German, but Octavius sounds Latin to me. His father's name was Tobert, is that German or is something else, Dannish or something?

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