There are quite a few of Spider-Man‘s villains who can lay claim to the title of arch-nemesis, but even fewer who have been both enemy and ally of the wall-crawling hero. Doctor Octopus is one of those rare villains whose character has fluctuated over the years from world-threatening villain to world-saving hero and back again.
Today we are going to take a look at a few of the best and worst examples of Doctor Octopus’ character over the years from the mainstream comics, though we’ll also be diving briefly into the Multiverse and a few other characters who have used the name as we explore the many sides of Doc Ock.
10 BEST: ULTIMATE DOC OCK
Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man explored an alternate reality that featured a modernized take on Peter Parker and his related characters, which allowed for wildly different takes on classic villains.
Ultimate Otto Octavius took a central role as a recurring villain in the series and was even responsible for that reality’s Clone Saga. His abilities were altered slightly by the experiment that grafted his arms to his body, and it was revealed he was able to control his arms due to an ability to manipulate metal.
9 WORST: LADY OCTOPUS
Following Otto Octavius’s death during the Clone Saga in the mainstream reality, a former student named Carolyn Trainer took her mentor’s name as her own and became a new Doctor Octopus that often clashed with the Ben Reilly version of Spider-Man.
She used a version of her predecessors’ metallic arms and was equipped with a personal force field and a genius-level intellect. When Octavius returned she became known as Lady Octopus, and her time as the second Doctor Octopus was largely forgotten.
8 BEST: CLONE SAGA DOC OCK
Before the aforementioned death at the hands of Kaine during the Clone Saga, Otto Octavius had a game-changing interaction with Spider-Man (Peter Parker) who was on the brink of death after being poisoned by the Vulture.
Unsatisfied by his victory over the weakened hero (who he then unmasked), Doc Ock took it upon himself to find a cure for Spider-Man. This Doc Ock had also found love with a villain named Stunner before he was taken out by Kaine, though he would later be resurrected by The Hand.
7 WORST: MASTER PLANNER
For a short time, Otto Octavius abandoned his Doctor Octopus identity to form a new criminal empire under the name of the Master Planner. His new criminal goal was to rededicate himself to mad science, and he even established a secret underwater base.
Spider-Man was forced to track down the Master Planner to save his Aunt May‘s life, where it was revealed that Doc Ock was behind the mysterious criminal leader. He soon returned to his Doc Ock persona, leaving the Master Planner in the ruins of his underwater base.
6 BEST: BRAND NEW DAY
After years of battles with Spider-Man and other superpowered heroes, Otto Octavius’ body was irreparably damaged and he only had months left to live, so Doc Ock rebuilt his harness to help sustain his life while also protecting his broken body with four additional arms.
He would also upgrade his mental connection with his arms to control a whole army of Octobots, and even built himself a heavily armored suit during the “Ends of the Earth” storyline that is still one of the deadliest versions of Doc Ock we’ve ever seen.
5 WORST: DOCTOR OCTOPUS III
Otto Octavius was once hired by Nexus Industries under the supervision of Luke Carlyle, who used up Nexus’ resources and then proceeded to steal Octavius’ tech so he could become an even better criminal.
Carlyle used Doc Ock’s cybernetic interface to create a new high-tech set that featured six metallic limbs, though he was quickly defeated by a rare team-up between Spider-Man and Otto Octavius, which resulted in the destruction of Carlyle’s suit.
4 BEST: CLASSIC
Otto Octavius made his debut as Doctor Octopus in 1963’s The Amazing Spider-Man #3, where he donned his familiar white suit and shades that would become his costume for years, though he would eventually adopt an awful green and orange costume.
This version of Doc Ock was an evil scientist with a vendetta against Spider-Man that led him to create the supervillain team known as the Sinister Six, though he frequently betrayed or abandoned his iterations of the team.
3 WORST: SUPERIOR OCTOPUS
While Ock would eventually sacrifice his hold over Parker’s body, he would return in a new cloned body that mixed his genetic material with Parker’s DNA, creating a powerful new form for Octavius that he would call the Superior Octopus.
His new costume referenced his time as the Superior Spider-Man but his heroic traits had all but vanished in his new form, which he further proved when he allied himself with Hydra during the Secret Empire event.
2 BEST: SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN
With Otto’s body decaying and near-death after the “Ends of the Earth” storyline, he hatched his final plan and switched bodies with Peter Parker, who died in Otto’s body after imprinting his memories onto Otto’s consciousness.
This drove Otto to become the Superior Spider-Man, and he used Peter’s body to become one of New York’s greatest heroes, though he never completely abandoned his ulterior motives until he fell for fellow scientist Anna Maria Marconi, which would lead him to sacrifice himself and restore Parker’s mind in order to save the woman he loved.
1 WORST: SUPERIOR VENOM
During his time as the Superior Spider-Man, Otto took great satisfaction in accomplishing where Peter failed, though he found himself failing in all-new ways after he removed the Venom symbiote from Flash Thompson and bonded with it.
He became Superior Venom and attempted to use the symbiote for his purposes, but he was eventually taken over by the Venom symbiote, which forced the Avengers to intervene and force the symbiote to return to Flash.
We've seen quite a few different versions of Spider-Man's nemesis Doctor Octopus over the years, so we're ranking a few of the best and worst!