The Amazing Spider-Man is one of the smartest heroes in Marvel Comics, always finding a solution to even the worst situations, but his greatest victory was by threatening litigation against the X-Men.
Ever since he was a teenager, Peter Parker had faced numerous life-or-death situations, and each and every time had narrowly escaped with his life. Whether the result of a supervillain, or fighting against other heroes, Spider-Man would use his wit, power, and determination to overcome any obstacle, and emerge victorious. However, sometimes even someone as smart as Peter doesn’t win, as he literally had his life stolen by Doctor Octopus.
In Amazing Spider-Man #600, Doctor Octopus, one of Spider-Man’s oldest foes, discovered that he was dying as a result of all the battles he had engaged in over the years. Upon learning this, Doc Ock had engaged in more frequent battles with Spider-Man, and at one point, he had almost succeeded in destroying the entire world. However, time and again Spider-Man would defeat Octavius, with the villain ending up in the Raft, a prison for the most vile villain in the Marvel Universe. However, Octavius had one final contingency plan that allowed him to swap bodies with Peter Parker, leaving his old foe to rot in prison, and Octavius a way to live a new life, albeit as his greatest foe. However, Peter escaped, leading to a final confrontation between the two foes that ended in Peter’s death. Octavius, however, had come to realize what made Peter Parker a hero, and dedicated his life to becoming a better Spider-Man than Peter ever was–dubbing himself “The Superior Spider-Man.”
Though Otto would wholeheartedly dedicate himself to heroism, and create plenty of new gadgets to assist in this venture, he kept his usual arrogant personality, and was often willing to employ lethal methods in fighting crime. This drastic change in behavior was noticed by many of Spidey’s longtime allies, and it almost cost Otto his chance at heroism. In Avenging Spider-Man #16, Otto was patrolling throughout New York City as Spider-Man when he came across a giant spider causing havoc.
The X-Men appeared shortly afterwards, since the spider was allegedly a mutant, and they wanted to ensure the spider’s safety and handle the situation without Spider-Man’s help. Otto, refusing to take orders, got involved in the conflict regardless, and managed to save Storm from one of the spider’s attacks. Wolverine didn’t take too kindly to Spider-Man’s attitude, and made the mistake of placing his hands on him, leading to Wolverine getting defeated quickly by Otto. However, Wolverine managed to catch Otto off guard, and ordered Rachel Grey (a child of Scott Summers and Jean Grey from another timeline) to read Spider-Man’s mind. Otto, realizing that a telepath would immediately catch onto the fact that he had taken over Spider-Man’s life, killing Peter Parker in the process, had protected himself in the only way he could think of, by threatening to sue the X-Men!
This storyline had taken place in the aftermath of Avengers vs X-Men, where several mutants (dubbed the Phoenix Five) had essentially conquered the world for a time, leaving Human/Mutant relations at an all time low. Otto took advantage of this, and argued that his rights would be trampled on if his mind was read, and that he would pursue legal action against the team.
Otto also claimed that Captain America, who was trying to repair Human/Mutant relations, would be unhappy with this uninvited intrusion. Rachel backed down, and Otto managed to further defuse the situation by claiming that his heroic leadership led to the spider being saved, and his saving Storm should more than prove his heroic intentions. He even managed to justify attacking Wolverine, normally one of Spider-Man’s friends, by claiming that “everyone” wanted to hit Wolverine at one point or another. With that, the X-Men dropped the issue, and Otto’s secret was safe for the moment. Though Peter Parker would reclaim his body in time, and his relationships with the superhero community restored, he has never outmaneuvered a sticky situation like Otto did, perhaps proving that Otto Octavius was the true Superior Spider-Man after all.