Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #222
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.
With just a couple of original stories left to go in this long-running out-of-continuity title, this issue guest stars Jack O'Lantern.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #222
Jul 2011 : SM Title
Spidey's out doing some snooping, at the window of recently-released prisoner Jason Macendale. For those of you who have been Marvel fans for a while, you'll know that Macendale is aka Jack O'Lantern, the psychotic killer-for-hire.
Jason owes the Kingpin some cash, and so he has to do some work for the big man. But not tonight. So Spidey tags Macendale's costume with a tracer, and returns tomorrow to follow the trail.
The trail soon leads to the Wakandan Embassy, where Jack O'Lantern swoops down from the sky to brazenly kidnap the Wakandan Ambassador, figuring that the ransom money for a guy like that should be enough to pay off his debts. Well, he would probably be in for a bit of a shock courtesy of the Black Panther, hero and King of the wealthy nation of Wakanda. But things aren't destined to get that far, as Spidey swings onto the scene...
...only to receive a nasty face-full of a gas which causes temporary blindness. Jack O'Lantern flies away with the ambassador, while Spider-Man is left with no sight at all.
But wait, there's more. The ambassador's body-guard reveals that the ambassador needs to take his medicine six times a day. But he has been dragged off without his pills, and now his life is on the line. And Spidey with no sight. What's a poor hero to do?
Answer: Head off to the rescue regardless. Spider-Man borrows the GPS from the ambassador's limo to provide him with location updates. Then he swings off blindly following the trail of the spider-tracer as planted yesterday.
On the way, our hero phones his pal Daredevil, asking for an urgent team-up. Matt Murdock does answer the phone, but unfortunately he's a bit far out of the city right now. Murdock offers some support and guidance. That's all he can do.
But that's all that is needed. Even without his sight, Spider-Man manages to fumble his way around the city thanks to a combination of spider-sense and long-trained instincts. He catches up with Jack O'Lantern, and manages to defeat him with a mix of some cunning, some luck, and a fair bit of dogged determination.
Too bad that at the last minute, the ambassador stupidly and inexplicably manages to fall off a high building. I can't see why. Nobody was standing near him. He just seems to have stood too close to the edge, and lost his balance. What an idiot.
And Spidey is still blind. How can he make the save? Oh... no need. Daredevil just arrived in the nick of time to save the silly duffer from ending up as pavement pizza. The heroes win the day. There's just time for a cup of coffee and a debrief at Murdock's place before we run out of pages.
This is a creative and well-crafted story. The "Blind Spider-Man" idea isn't entirely original, obviously. The wonderful classic 1978 three-part arc beginning in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #25 first proposed the concept a long time ago. But this is definitely an original adaptation.
There are some terribly contrived moments in this story. But the underlying sentiment is sound through and through. I'm going to give it a solid three-and-a-half webs.
I have no idea how you might persuade a GPS to give you instructions and location updates when heading to an unknown destination. There has been a fair whack of technical license taken in that particular case. But let's overlook it for once.