After serving time, Doc Ock attempted to raise funds by springing gangster Blackie Gaxton from prison—assisted by Gaxton’s lawyer, Bennett Brant. Spider-Man foiled the scheme but could not save Bennett from being shot in front of his sister, Betty Brant. Octopus then assembled the first Sinister Six to combat Spider-Man. He plotted to take Betty hostage, knowing Spider-Man had previously rescued her and would likely do so again. May Parker, visiting Betty at the time, was also captured. Otto treated May kindly, and she remained blissfully unaware she had been kidnapped by the charming villain.
Following Spider-Man’s defeat of the Sinister Six, Ock assembled another group of criminal underlings and established an undersea base. Calling himself the Master Planner, he embarked on a series of thefts of experimental substances—seeking to further expand his mastery of the atomic sciences. His goal: to develop a radiation ray with which he could rule the world. But his path was fated to entwine with Spider-Man’s: When May fell sick, Peter provided her with a blood transfusion—not realizing the radioactivity in his plasma would kill her. The only substance capable of saving her was the experimental ISO-36. Peter managed to obtain enough money to fund the operation, but the Master Planner’s forces hijacked the shipment for their own deadly research. Spider-Man tracked the Master Planner to his underwater hideout and confronted his foe, revealed to be Doc Ock. After the base was destroyed, Dr. Octopus escaped once more. Spider-Man recovered the ISO-36 and saved Aunt May’s life with the aid of Dr. Curt Connors, AKA Lizard.
Dr. Octopus’ next scheme involved the theft of a projector that could disable any device. After two failed attempts, Otto finally succeeded on his third. Turning the Nullifier against Spider-Man, he caused the wall-crawler to lose his memory and persuaded him they were allies. He then enlisted Spider-Man’s help to steal the remaining components for the device. Though the hero had not regained his memory, his instinctive spider-sense persuaded him not to trust Doc Ock, and he defeated him once again.
Octavius cajoled a jealous Daily Bugle photographer, Jeffrey Haight, into helping him escape prison to become his personal photographer; the plan was foiled by Spider-Man. Back in prison, with his arms confiscated, Otto demonstrated that the range of his psionic control over the limbs had increased to a far greater distance than previously believed. The arms freed him from captivity; in the ensuing battle between Doc Ock and Spider-Man, George Stacy was killed while protecting an innocent child. Free again, Dr. Octopus seized upon Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin’s absence to gather his forces and launch an all-out gang war against Hammerhead’s thugs. But Spider-Man’s involvement quickly resulted in Otto’s return to prison.
While incarcerated, Dr. Octopus learned May Parker had inherited a small Canadian island containing a commercial nuclear reactor. On his release, he set out to woo and marry May. But Hammerhead interrupted the wedding, and the ensuing chase and brawl led to the destruction of the reactor. When Doc Ock went to war with the Owl, Spider-Man and Felicia Hardy, AKA Black Cat, attempted to intervene. Devastated that the confrontation had left the Black Cat near death, a cold-hearted Peter said farewell to his friends before entering what he believed to be his final showdown with Dr. Octopus. Spider-Man’s victory was remorseless, and Doc Ock developed a morbid fear of his arachnid foe.
Imprisoned in a mental institution, Otto struggled with his overwhelming phobia of Spider-Man. Knowing he could not face his foe directly, Ock’s next plan involved the use of biological weapons to kill the entire population of New York. Spider-Man was forced to fake a humiliating defeat lest the city be destroyed, restoring Otto’s self-confidence. Still, Otto had clearly changed. As a young scientist, he had fallen in love with a fellow researcher, Mary Alice Burke—but his demanding mother jealously sabotaged the relationship. Learning Mary Alice was dying from AIDS, Otto began a desperate search for a cure—stealing research materials to do so. His attempts failed, Mary Alice died, and the villain meekly surrendered to Spider-Man. A world-weary Otto nonetheless escaped from prison. At the time, Spider-Man was dying from a chemical virus. Hoping to one day kill the hero himself, Doc Ock captured and unmasked his foe. Analyzing the virus, Otto offered him a cure. Daring to trust his enemy, Peter accepted the mixture and was healed.
But having found his own salvation in this act, Dr. Octopus did not live to enjoy it. Intending to protect Peter by killing his enemies, Kaine murdered Doc Ock by snapping his neck. But Dr. Carolyn Trainer, Otto’s young assistant, had been working with him in the area of solid holographic projection and mind-to-computer communication. Prior to Peter’s unmasking, she had created a backup brain-imprint of Doc Ock. With Otto’s passing, the backup of his mind became a software projection known as the Master Programmer, and Carolyn used his tentacles to become the second Dr. Octopus. Meanwhile, Jacob Conover, AKA the Rose, employed a cult, the True Believers, to magically resurrect Dr. Octopus as an empty-minded servant. As soon as he was raised, Carolyn uploaded the Master Programmer persona into Octavius’ brain. She returned his tentacles to him, and they fled. With his memories restored from a past snapshot, Otto forgot he once knew Spider-Man’s identity. Imprisoned again, secret government forces brainwashed Octavius into becoming a weapon against Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin. When Spider-Man was blackmailed into liberating Osborn from jail, Octavius escaped prison and attacked Osborn on the George Washington Bridge; lightning struck the two, and Octavius was captured again. Free once again, the humiliated Octavius reacted violently when Spider-Man publicly revealed his true identity. He was quickly defeated, distracted by one of Parker’s students. In the aftermath of Spider-Man’s deal with Mephisto to save the life of Spider-Man’s aunt, Dr. Octopus and the rest of the world no longer know who Spider-Man truly is.
Over the years, his schemes failed again and again–usually due to the costumed crime-fighter Spider-Man. The battles took their toll on Octavius–while his arms were mechanical, his body was only human, and repeated blows by superhuman opponents eventually left him with a degenerative neural condition. Given months to live, Octavius made multiple attempts to stave off death and to leave a lasting legacy. When his last attempt to make his mark on the world (by killing most of its population) failed, he set his final, desperate bid for survival in motion. Using a special “Octobot,” Octavius ambushed Spider-Man and swapped their minds, leaving Octavius’ mind in control of Spider-Man’s young, virile form, and Parker’s mind trapped in Octavius’ dying husk. Octavius delighted in Parker’s loving family and friends, his satisfying job at Horizon Labs, and his high-flying escapades as Spider-Man. However, with super-villain aid, Parker escaped the Raft prison and confronted Octavius at Avengers Tower. After a pitched battle, Octavius’ frail body finally succumbed to the massive damage it had accrued during the fight and expired, seemingly killing Parker, but not before Parker used the residual mental link between them to flood Octavius with a torrent of Parker’s memories, inspiring the villain to take up Parker’s cause and fight evil, and to be even better than Parker. Unbeknownst to Octavius, Parker’s mind survived within Spider-Man’s body, able to observe Octavius’ actions and access his memories.
Octavius redesigned and enhanced Parker’s costume and dubbed himself the Superior Spider-Man; he also built a miniature Spider-Bot army to patrol the city, alerting him to crimes in progress. He battled a new incarnation of the Sinister Six, led by Fred Myers, AKA Boomerang, and defeated them soundly; not only did he steal their sixth member, the robotic Living Brain, to reprogram as his personal assistant, he beat Boomerang very badly; Parker subtly influenced Otto to not kill the villain. He then faced his old teammate Adrian Toomes, AKA the Vulture; while Otto initially tried to talk Toomes into retiring, upon learning that the old man’s henchmen were exploiting children, Otto became so enraged that he blinded Toomes.
Galled that Parker had never achieved his doctorate, Octavius enrolled at Empire State University, taking a physics course that, much to his amusement, was taught by his old classmate Don Lamaze. To pass Lamaze’s course, Otto reluctantly sought aid from science tutor Anna Maria Marconi; the two soon fell in love. Spider-Man subsequently faced Marcus Lyman, AKA Massacre, who had suffered brain damage, making him into an emotionless killer; after Lyman took hostages in Grand Central Station, Octavius defeated him and, concluding that Massacre was irredeemable, shot and apparently killed him.
He faced foes of a considerably less-serious nature in Jonathan Powers, AKA Jester, and Screwball, who had been pranking public figures to drive traffic to their malware-laden website. When they attempted their tricks on Spider-Man, however, they reminded him of the torment he’d suffered as a schoolboy, and he brutally beat them into submission.
A violent clash with the vigilante Dr. Eli Wirtham, AKA Cardiac, proved the final straw for the Avengers, who subdued Spider-Man and subjected him to a series of scans to account for his uncharacteristic behavior; while the Avengers didn’t find anything amiss, Octavius himself noticed an anomaly in his brainwaves that he soon discovered was Peter Parker’s psyche. Using his Neurolitic Scanner, Octavius journeyed into his mindscape, where he battled Parker; Octavius emerged the victor and buried Parker’s psyche deep within his own. Meanwhile, the henchmen of the villains he’d defeated were recruited into an underground army by the Goblin King (actually Norman Osborn) who also hacked into the Spider-Bots to make anyone with his Goblin insignia invisible to their sensors.
New York Mayor J. Jonah Jameson called upon Spider-Man to ensure that the upcoming execution of Alistaire Smythe, AKA Ultimate Spider-Slayer (who had murdered Jameson’s wife Marla) at the soon-to-be-decommissioned Raft prison went off as planned. Despite Spider-Man’s presence, Smythe escaped into the prison. Jameson urged Spider-Man to kill Smythe, and he apparently did so, snapping the cyborg’s neck–but he also used Jameson’s taped orders to blackmail the mayor into granting him the Raft as his personal base. He dubbed it Spider-Island and staffed it with an army of hired henchmen he dubbed Spiderlings.
Clad in a newly-redesigned costume that used four mechanical arms similar to his Dr. Octopus tentacles, Otto led the Spiderlings in storming the Kingpin’s Hell’s Kitchen fortress, Shadowland. They razed it to the ground, but Fisk escaped. Fisk’s top lieutenant, Phil Urich, AKA Hobgoblin, found himself unemployed; Spider-Man defeated him during his subsequent crime spree, but Urich escaped custody and joined Osborn’s gang as the Goblin Knight. Meanwhile, Spider-Man found himself teamed with the Scarlet Spider (Kaine, Peter Parker’s clone), whom Otto resented for having once killed him as Dr. Octopus, requiring Otto to be magically resurrected; the two battled Dr. Miles Warren, AKA Jackal, and William Allen, AKA Carrion.
When the death-worshipping Thanos’ minions ransacked Earth while the Avengers were in space battling the alien Builders, Octavius mentored the nascent Inhuman Sylvia Prell, AKA Fulmina, and joined Luke Cage’s impromptu team of Mighty Avengers. After the crisis passed, Spider-Man tried to wrest control of the team from Cage, but was violently rebuffed and quit the team. These and other pursuits had begun to seriously impact his performance at Horizon Labs; making matters worse, a temporal experiment at Horizon threatened to destabilize the entire timeline. Miguel O’Hara, AKA Spider-Man of Earth-928 circa 2099 AD, came back in time to avert the catastrophe, but Octavius believed O’Hara was the cause of the crisis and knocked him out. To fix the temporal problem, Octavius had to access Parker’s buried memories, inadvertently reviving Parker’s psyche as well. While Octavius eventually averted disaster, the resulting time disturbance destroyed Horizon Labs, trapped O’Hara on Earth-616, and catapulted Octavius to the year 2099 of Earth-928, where he became embroiled in a battle between extradimensional energy vampires and Spider-Men from across the Multiverse. He returned to his own timeline a day after he left; his memories of the journey soon faded.
After brutally attacking and apprehending the Black Cat, unaware of Parker’s nuanced relationship with her, the now-unemployed Octavius started his own technology firm, Parker Industries, partnering with Anna Maria and his Horizon colleague Sajani Jaffrey. Octavius’ pursuit of a doctorate and his new business were almost derailed, however, when Lamaze recognized “Parker’s” thesis as Otto Octavius’ work; a solution soon presented itself when Octavius’ former lover Angelina Brancale, AKA Stunner, attacked Spider-Man, blaming him for Ock’s death. Spider-Man defeated her, then stole her virtual reality technology, which he used to pose as Octavius to Lamaze, claiming that his work had really been Parker’s all along. Parker’s ex-girlfriend Carlie Cooper also investigated the changes in Peter Parker, uncovering Octavius’ secret, but Lily Hollister, AKA Menace, captured her and brought her to Osborn, who used the Goblin serum to warp her mind and body into Monster. Parker’s family was also endangered by his foes; the Lilin assassin Blackout kidnapped his Aunt May to blackmail Parker (who had been publicly exposed as Spider-Man’s armorer prior to Octavius’ body usurpation) into sabotaging Spider-Man’s equipment. To dissuade further attacks, Octavius brutally tortured Blackout after freeing May.
Otto began imprisoning his former Sinister Six allies in his abandoned underwater base off Battery Park. He stole William Baker, AKA Sandman, from the Baxter Building, captured Max Dillon, AKA Electro, with Thor Odinson, AKA Thor’s aid, kidnapped Dmitri Smerdyakov, AKA Chameleon, from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, ensnared Mysterio impersonator Mysterion after saving him from Frank Castle, AKA Punisher, and took the Vulture from the Raft. Implanting them all with mind-control technology, he dubbed them the Superior Six and had them unwillingly serve as his crime-fighting partners. During a battle with Edward Lansky, Lightmaster’s Masters of Evil, Lightmaster’s powers disrupted Octavius’ technology, freeing the villains from his control. The enraged Six nearly devastated Manhattan before Spider-Man and rookie heroine Selah Burke, AKA Sun Girl, saved the city and drove them off.
Upon encountering the vigilante Flash Thompson, AKA Venom, Spider-Man unmasked him, but failed to realize he was Parker’s friend and an Avenger. Thompson escaped, but later turned to Parker for help; Octavius promptly separated Thompson from his symbiote, only for the alien to jump to its old host–Spider-Man. Dubbing himself “the Superior Venom,” he tore through the city, attacking even minor lawbreakers until the Avengers stepped in–but it took Parker’s psyche to drive the symbiote off him and back to Thompson. Eventually, Osborn revealed his Goblin nation by plunging New York City into chaos as they rampaged through the streets. Spider-Man confronted Osborn in his lair but learned that the attacks were a distraction for the Goblin Knight, Menace and Monster’s assault on Spider-Island, completely destroying it and killing most of the Spiderlings. The Goblin killed Don Lamaze with Spider-Man’s own mechanical arms, seized control of Mayor Jameson’s Spider- Slayer robots, and kidnapped Anna Maria. Now convinced that Peter Parker was the truly superior Spider-Man, Octavius willingly deleted his memories and personality from Parker’s body, knowing that only Parker was capable of saving the woman Octavius loved. Back in full control of his body, Parker defeated the Goblin, saved Anna Maria, and restored order to New York City, but his struggles with Octavius’ legacy continue.