Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #82
Welcome to our "British History" lecture series. Our goal is to shed some light onto the murky history of one of Spidey's lesser known current titles... the alternate universe UK-only series Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine).
This UK magazine series started in 1995 running "reprints plus filler". Then in 1999 the formula changed to feature 11 pages of original story content written by UK creators. The title ran nearly exclusively original stories in that new format until 2011, when it reverted to a reprint series after Disney acquired Marvel and pulled the plug on UK-created content.
At Spider-Fan, we reviewed many of those original stories as they came out, until we lost our UK supply chain. Now, thanks to the joint miracles of eBay UK and international shipping, we're planning to track down and review all those other stories that slipped through the cracks the first time around.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #82
Feb 2003 : SM Title
Spider-Man, in the heart of the African Jungle, at the mercy of Kraven? How can this be?!!
Enough teaser panel. Flashback to the previous afternoon, where Peter Parker is apologising to his supposed girlfriend Mary Jane for his lack of attention and repeated absence at their dates. Somewhat reluctantly, Mary Jane agrees to give him one more chance, and they arrange a date for the evening.
Shortly after, Peter learns that Jonah Jameson has been kidnapped, taken to Africa (the nation of Kontakto to be precise), and is being held hostage by Kraven the Hunter.
Peter dashes over to the Daily Bugle and asks assistant editor Robbie Robertson to send him to Kontakto so that he can find and rescue Jameson. Robbie says "sure", and Peter leaves the office with tickets in his hand. I guess Robbie just happened to have some tickets lying around, and he figured that sending a teenage freelance photographer off to the rescue was a pretty sensible thing to do.
Clearly this is no time to call the professionals! When your millionaire boss is kidnapped, just find a teenager who doesn't speak any African language and doesn't have a drivers license, and put him on a flight to some place he's never heard of! Actually, that kind of makes sense in a sick sort of way. Jameson is a dickhead, and if he died in a botched rescue attempt, Robbie would probably get his job.
Let's also note for the record that Peter knew that he was standing Mary Jane up for their date. But from what I can see, he makes no attempt to contact her and explain that he is off on a life-and-death mission to save a millionaire publisher. Nope, apparently he just leaves her cold.
The next morning, Peter is in Kontakto.
And... again, let's just get this right. Our story opened "after college finished for the day". So, say 5pm. That's around 9pm in Africa, because of the time difference. So... to be ready to get into a jeep the following morning (say around 9am) in Kontakto, peter has twelve meagre hours in which to:
- Visit Aunt May in Queens and see the TV headlines about the kidnapping.
- Pack some luggage, and get back to Manhattan to the Daily Bugle.
- Persuade and arrange with Robbie to get permission, tickets, and money.
- Get a visa to visit Africa (the embassy would be closed by then).
- Get to the airport, clear security (couple of hours there).
- Fly to Ethiopia, Morocco, Johannesburg, Ghana, Senegal or Egypt (the only direct destinations from New York).
- Transfer to another connecting flight to Kontakto (probably two connections).
- Arrive, hire a jeep, and hit the road.
Clearly, that's impossible. Doesn't anybody do any basic research on these stories they write?
Look, I'm already angry about this stupid story, and Spidey hasn't even gotten to the jungle yet. Let's hurry this along and get it over with.
Spider-Man gets into his jeep and drives off randomly into the jungle where he calls "Oh Kraven! Where are you? Cooooo-eee!" until he finds the Hunter. I kid you not. Naturally, Kraven and Spider-Man fight. Kraven tags Spidey with a drugged dart (whatever happened to Spider-Sense? Spidey dodges bullets, but he can't dodge a blow-dart?) Our idiot hero then falls into a pit of quicksand and starts to drown.
Kraven then departs, leaving Spidey in the quicksand to suffocate, and Jameson hanging in a net to be eaten by wild animals. Kraven calls Kingpin on the radio to tell him that Jonah and Spidey are "as good as dead" and requests that his payment for killing them be deposited in his bank account.
Naturally, shortly after disappearing under the quicksand, Spider-Man reappears in the best tradition of Indiana Jones (or The Princess Bride, which is an even better movie). As the dramatic music rises, the web-slinger thrusts out his hand and uses his webs to pull himself free. Then he goes to find Kraven (who is celebrating with a drink), surprises him, and engages in three more pages of fighting just so that he can get some photos to take back for the Bugle.
Spidey then changes back to Peter, and rescues Jonah. They return back to New York (again, arriving by the next morning despite the obvious logistical impossibility of doing so, especially with the time zones against them this time around).
Mary Jane is, of course, furious.
Dammit. Everybody in this story is entirely retarded!
Maybe I'm wrong, but I had always hoped that "Teenage Stories" could mean "Stories just as thoughtful and consistent as adult stories, but with simplified language, and careful treatment of adult themes". Instead, it seems to mean "the complete abandonment of rationality and consistent motivation".
Reading these stories makes me loathe and despise Peter Parker. He is a thoughtless jerk who doesn't deserve a girlfriend. Jameson is a bigot without redeeming attributes. Robbie has no character at all. Even as a psychopath, Kraven is as uninteresting as he is ineffectual.
A pox on everybody involved with this magazine.
By the way, you do know that people don't actually sink any further than the waist in quicksand, don't you? Mythbusters demonstrated that quite convincingly. So let's not see it happen in any movie or story ever again, thank you.