2022 brings Peter Parker's arch-nemesis Doctor Octopus back into Spider-Man's life in a major way, both as the upcoming antagonist of January's three issues of Amazing Spider-Man and as the star of his own limited series tying into the Daredevil-centric Devil's Reign crossover.
Marvel has unveiled the advance solicitations for Amazing Spider-Man #85, Amazing Spider-Man #86, and Amazing Spider-Man #87, along with a one-shot titled Mary Jane & Black Cat: Beyond #1, which rounds out the Spidey franchise's weekly offerings for the first month of 2022.
And not only do the solicitations establish the villainous return of Doc Ock as a central presence in Amazing Spider-Man, but they establish a timeline for 'Spider-Man Beyond' - and perhaps for Ben Reilly's entire second go-around as Spider-Man.
Doc Ock hasn't been entirely absent from Peter Parker's life for the last few years. He showed up as part of the recent 'Sinister War' arc, thanks to his standing as the founder of the original Sinister Six. And Marvel's previously released December 2021 solicitations established that Aunt May herself will contact Ock to potentially help with Peter Parker's current condition, bringing him back into the title.
But the new January solicitations place the villain at the center of 'Spider-Man Beyond,' with writer Cody Ziglar and artist Paco Medina's Amazing Spider-Man #85 pitting Ben Reilly against Doctor Octopus in an apparently unwinnable fight.
"Even if Spider-Man wins, he is going to lose. And he is going to lose BIG," warns the solicitation text for January 5's Amazing Spider-Man #85.
Then, January 12's Amazing Spider-Man #86 from writer Zeb Wells and artist Michael Dowling is an issue that "fans will remember for years to come," promises Marvel, focusing on the aftermath of Ben Reilly's battle with Doctor Octopus - which apparently has devastating consequences on his life and his career as Spider-Man.
Finally, January 26 brings the final regular issue of Amazing Spider-Man for the month - writer Jed MacKay and artist Carlos Gomez's Amazing Spider-Man #87 - which seems to set up the return of Peter Parker as Spider-Man and the conclusion of the 'Spider-Man Beyond' storyline, which Marvel's announcement states will run for a total of 19 issues (more on that in a moment).
In Amazing Spider-Man #87, Captain America and Black Cat will visit Peter Parker to try and bring him back as Spider-Man, following the injuries he suffered at the start of 'Spider-Man Beyond'. But Peter's decision may come with a twist as Marvel adds readers who think they know where the story is going, "do not."
Speaking of Black Cat, she'll co-star in January 19's Mary Jane & Black Cat: Beyond one-shot alongside Mary Jane Watson, in which MJ has to rescue Felicia Hardy from a kidnapping.
But when Black Cat is involved, things get unpredictable and not what they seem, promises the publisher.
As for Doctor Octopus, his fight with Ben Reilly will coincide with his own starring three-issue limited series titled The Superior Four, first announced through CBR, in which Doc Ock gathers his own Fantastic Four style squad composed entirely of Variants of himself from around the Multiverse.
The limited series ties into Devil's Reign, in which Kingpin takes over New York City with an army of villains aimed at taking out all the city's vigilantes. Superior Four is written by Zac Thompson with art from Davide Tinto.
Back to Marvel's note about the planned 19-issue run of 'Spider-Man Beyond' - that would mean that the story will end with Amazing Spider-Man #94 - which would also mark Amazing Spider-Man #894.
That means that there's room for one post-'Beyond' six-issue story-arc which would theoretically end on the double milestone of Amazing Spider-Man #100/#900.
And considering that Amazing Spider-Man #800 involved Doctor Octopus placing his consciousness into Peter Parker's body as the Superior Spider-Man, it seems like everything is leading up to a huge story for Spider-Man in 2022 - just in time for his 60th anniversary as a character.
Stay tuned to Newsarama for Marvel's full January 2022 solicitations, coming later this month.