Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #214
Part 1 / Part 2
This long-running UK Magazine started out by running reprints, but these days it offers a brand new "out of continuity" Spider-Man story every three weekly issue. This is Spidey's primary UK non-reprint magazine. He also appears in the pre-school Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine), along with occasional guest appearances in Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine).
The Spider-Man story occupies eleven or twelve pages of this 32 page publication, and is aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. The plots for these stories feature classic Marvel characters and villains. While they often echo plots from the mainstream comics, they do so in their own special style.
After a few years of erratic quality at best, this title is finally producing some half-decent material. Too bad that Disney (the new owner of Marvel) has announced its intention to pull the plug on all non-U.S. original stories. In fact, last issue (Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #213) featured a reprint comic. But this month is back to newly created UK-sourced material, in the start of an ongoing arc entitled "Strange Days".
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #214
Jan 2011 : SM Title
Arc: Part 1 of "Strange Days"
Spider-Man is swinging past Greenwich Village, the district in New York where Doctor Strange hangs out. He spots an unusual glow from the Doctor's window, and heads over to investigate. When he sees Doctor Strange losing a fight against Baron Mordo (magic-using evil foe of aforementioned Master of Magic Doc Strange), Spidey decides to intervene. But he's too late to prevent Mordo from stealing a red crystal, which Mordo intends to use to bring about a new master of this earthly realm. In return, Mordo expects to receive the gift of immortality.
So there we go. The story in a nutshell. Now we just need to go through the process.
Mordo escapes. Strange explains that the crystal is a mystic key which can open a portal to the "Dark Dimension"... home to a multitude of demons, and also to Strange's greatest foe, The Dread Dormammu. Clearly, the bad guys must be stopped. Spidey volunteers to help, and after a bit of token resistance, Strange accepts the web-head's assistance. So it's off to the special location where the stone's portal will open... Tintagel Castle, in England. There ya go, UK fans, a bit of local color for you.
One teleportation spell later and the good guys are on the scene of the ancient British castle, and the fireworks begin. Strange attacks Mordo with... well... magic. Meanwhile, Spidey tries to sneak around the back and grab the stone. But their success is limited. Yes, the Doc manages to put Mordo out for the count, but not quite quickly enough. The portal is open, and Dormammu has a gateway to the world.
Now, thanks to an ancient vow, Dormammu is forbidden from entering the human realm. But he has a sneaky trick up his sleeve. Dormammu's plan is to use the portal to send the Dark Dimension out to take over the world. Then the earth will be the Dark Dimension, and Dormammu can enter and rule without technically breaking the terms of the magical oath he gave a long time ago.
It sounds a little bit suspect to me. You could argue it in a court of law. But then again, Dormammu is the ruler of a billion damned souls. Most of whom are probably lawyers.
With Doctor Strange incapacitated, the Dark Dimension leaking out into the world, and Spider-Man next on the list, who can save the day now?
Oooh... Captain Britain, eh? Yep. Cap Brit swoops down, grabs Spider-Man, and flies off again. Maybe hope still remains. But we won't know until... next issue (Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #215).
This isn't too bad, really. Sure, the plot isn't taxing the brain overly much. But I can't find anything to particularly complain about. John Royle's pencil work is solid as a rock, and the inking and coloring work is great. In fact, the CGI flame-effect around Dormammu is really very impressive.
The art work on this title really has come a long way in ten years. Early stuff was a bit amateur-looking from time to time. But the latest stuff out of the UK is every bit as polished as the U.S. equivalent.
Solid story, with slick art work. Let's nudge a little over the median mark and call it three-point-five webs.