Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #152
This UK magazine features a new Spidey story each issue, which is to say, each three weeks.
This relatively long-running mag started off by reprinting Spider-Man stories, but then swapped to producing original tales. Originally those new stories were one-off tales set in a "Generic Spider-Man" continuity which had much in common with the Spider-Man of the 1990's Cartoon series. More recently they attempted to construct their own "Ultimate Spider-Man-esque" version of young Peter Parker. That seems to have been abandoned for a return once more to a policy of "Generic Spider-Man" one-off tales, like this one.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #152
Jun 2007 : SM Title
The eleven page Spider-Man story is interspersed amongst the mix of puzzles, a Namor profile, a story comprehension quiz, a pull-out poster, a letters page, and a single page of ads for Spidey toys.
Peter accompanies his (wife/girlfriend?) Mary-Jane to a beach swimsuit modelling photo shoot in Miami. They're having a two-for-one deal on tickets, which is handy. Of course, there's rumours of zombie pirates off the Miami coast, so maybe that's why the tickets are cheap?
While MJ is posing, Peter rents a jet-ski and heads for deep water... where he spots a motor yacht being attacked by... blue-skinned Atlanteans with deformed faces! He changes into his Spidey suit while still on his jetski (only possible with super-flexibility and the ability to stick to things with one toe, please don't try this yourself at home... or at the beach). Then he joins the fight. The Atlanteans shoot their weird guns and hit both Spidey and his jet ski. Spidey is KO'd.
The Atlanteans put a breather mask on him, and take him down to lock him in a cage at the bottom of the sea, where he comes conscious to meet... KRANG! Who? Tim Kring? No. KRANG! Evil Atlantean foe of Namor. KRANG explains everything to Spidey, and shows him his new super gun which can destroy entire cities. But it's powered by platinum, he explains. That's why they've been robbing wealthy tourists. For their platinum jewellery.
Well, impossible that they should just buy some on eBay and send of a check. Nah, they need to steal the stuff (just how many people take platinum jewellery out to sea anyhow?) in a way that will attract lots of attention (the "zombies" were the Atlantean soldiers, deformed by the process which allows them to breathe air).
Hey, how come with a breathing mask on, Spidey can still speak to Krang? Must be some fancy transmitter in the Atlantean mask.
KRANG spends a couple of pages explaining everything to Spider-Man, just to make sure that (a) Spidey has been brought nice and close to the big gun, and (b) he knows everything he needs to ruin Krang's plan. All Spidey needs now is an opportunity.
...and here comes Namor!
Yeah, Namor turns up. That's handy. Spidey breaks out of the cage by cracking the hinges. Everybody fights. Spidey destroys the gun by kicking the power plant. Clearly he never heard about "water resistance". Spidey and Namor flee the pending explosion. Spidey goes back to his jet ski, and makes it home despite running out of gas. Final gag... he's got a starfish in his wetsuit!
Well... it's your standard Spidey/Namor team-up. The gags don't work particularly well, the interplay between Spidey and Namor is rather unconvincing. There's a ton of plot holes and nonsensical angles to the tale. The whole "capture the good guy and explain your master plan" is really so sixties.
So how come I almost kind of enjoyed this story? Well, I guess it's just good clean fun. The art helps, it's bright and bold and perfectly suits a silly, sunny beach adventure. I'd like MJ a little more airbrushed and buxom. But hey, it's a kids magazine.
I'm normally pretty rough of Ferg Handley's writing. But this time he very nearly manages to pull off the tale with almost the right amount of cheesiness. I'm going to go all out and give it an "only slightly below par" two and a half webs.