Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #220
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. But there's still a few original UK stories to read before doom is pronounced.
Last issue saw the start of some nasty Norse Trouble, as Amora (aka Norse Goddess The Enchantress) captured the powerful Stones of Norn, enchanted Odin, defeated Thor, and captured Thor's brother Loki.
All in all, she is well on her way to overthrowing the Nine Realms. Nothing can stop her now, except... One Hundred of Earth's Mightiest Heroes!
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #220
May 2011 : SM Title
Arc: Part 2 of "Thor, Spidey & Everybody vs. Amora"
The plan is this. Thor opens a portal to Asgard. One Hundred Heroes rush through and engage Amora's mighty army in combat... to the DEATH! Meanwhile, Thor will try and nip around the back and wake up Odin.
And... that's how it begins. Open the portal. Enter Mighty Mortal Combat! Slay them ALL is the battle cry from Amora's army! Brutal fighting ensues, and heroes begin to fall.
Thor attempts to nip around the back to give Odin a wake-up call, and... that's where things fall apart. Amora is in the way, and Thor isn't powerful enough to defeat her.
But what's this? The Beetle (sneaky little villain that he is) has also come through the portal. He seems to be under some sort of enchantment too, and he's heading right for the highest tower in the castle. Spidey decides to tag along for the flight, and together they find... Loki, locked in magical chains, and under the guard of a Ulik, The Rock Troll.
Powerful as Ulik may be, unfortunately he's not quite in Spidey's league when it comes to quick thinking. So Spidey pulls the old bullfighter trick and taunts Ulik to aiming a mighty blow which lands on the brazier which is generating the enchantment keeping Loki enslaved. Brazier destroyed, Loki free, and now the heroes have a second chance.
Loki turns invisible and slides off to Odin's chamber, to perform the job that Thor had intended to do. Even as the deadly battle turns against the heroes, and countless of them are defeated in combat by the spears, swords and clubs of their foes, Odin appears, awakened from his slumber, and with his power restored. Amora is defeated, just as the last heroes are surrounded.
Odin heals all of the wounded heroes, and they all go home. The End.
What? Are you kidding me? Over half of the hundred heroes were defeated while in battle against guys with swords, knives, spears and clubs... and NONE of them were killed? Not one of those mind-controlled psychopathic monsters managed to land a killing blow? Not one of them saw their defeated foe lying unconscious on the ground and decided to stick a spear through their brains "just to make sure"? Every single one of those good guys was just wounded?
I can understand that you can't go around killing off half of Marvel's Finest Heroes if you have any aspirations of running an ongoing continuity. Well, OK, perhaps Ultimatum can get away with it. But that's the exception that proves the rule.
But in this case, it would have been nice to have some sort of explanation for the absolute zero fatality rate in this "fight to the death". At least have the Enchantress order "Take Them Alive!" or something. Anything, just to explain this impossible statistical occurrence... please?
It must be hard to know how to finish these epic stories. A multi-part story arc near the end of a long-running title. Cross-dimensional conflict with gods and demons. Damn near every major Marvel Hero assembled in a last ditch effort. How on earth do you write a climactic ending to a story that has already pulled out all the stops half way through?
"The Heroes win, nobody is killed, they all get better and go home, The End."
Somehow that doesn't quite pack the punch I was hoping for, and so I feel obliged to give this conclusion a two-point-five web rating to bring the overall average for the story down to a competent but lacklustre three webs overall.
P.S. It was Loki who had enchanted the Beetle and summoned him through the portal to come to his aid. All of the other heroes were under the protection of a mind-shield created by Doctor Strange, but the Beetle was not. It's a nice little piece of plot detail.