For a few years now, UK-based Spidey fans have had a title all of their own - Spectacular Spider-Man (UK) Magazine. A Kids' Magazine, Spectac (UK) features nuthin' but Spidey, including an 11-page original story in every issue. Inspired by his success, Spidey is springboarding into another regular UK appearance in "Rampage", a new magazine for older kids with a focus on console games, TV shows, movies, and all the other cool ways that today's young generation spend time and money.
At least the first few Spidey stories in Rampage are being created by some of the same guys who work on the current Spectacular (UK) Magazine tales. That means that the stories have a similar look and feel, with two major exceptions: Firstly, the stories are only half the length (six pages story plus one page character profiles) and secondly the slightly older audience permits more violence and aggression in the story and art.
Enough preamble. Our 6-page Spider-Man epic awaits! Well, perhaps not an epic. But it's certainly a "classic". As in, a story that is well known. In fact, well-worn might be a better description...
Spider-Man is on the loose, robbing banks. Gee. Has Spider-Man turned to a life of crime? Well, the last fifty-seven times it happened, there was an innocent explanation. But maybe this time is different?
Actually, perhaps we should be a little more specific about the nature of the Spider-Man involved. To be precise, a humanoid form wearing a Spider-Man suit and using Doctor Octopus' mechanical arms is on the loose robbing banks.
Now, this man has demonstrated none of Spider-Man's powers and is acting in a manner completely inconsistent with Spider-Man's behavior, so naturally the media assumes it is Spider-Man. Even Daredevil believes it might be true and decides to get involved.
Of course, it's all a setup. Daredevil follows the Octo-Spider back to Doc Ock's lair, and secretly listens while Ock conveniently soliloquizes the whole plot, in the way that such villains do. Seems that Ock had zapped Spidey with a neurotoxin, and Spider-Man was completely incapable of controlling his actions. The web-slinger was forced to go along for the ride while Ock's arms committed the crimes.
In fact, DD had already figured this out. He smelt the neurotoxin earlier, and brought along the antidote. He administers that to Spidey, and together they overpower Doctor Octopus. Then Daredevil tells the police what really happened, and on the strength of the unsworn heresy evidence of a costumed vigilante friend of the suspect, the police drop all charges against Spider-Man.
Rather contrived. And since when was Daredevil an expert in concocting neurotoxin antidotes?
But in its favor, the story is well-contained, and the presence of Spider-Man himself in the suit did catch me by surprise. I had expected an imitator, robot or clone.
Self-contained, tidy, and harmless. Three webs.
I appear to have lost my copy of Rampage #4. However, according to my notes, this story was originally entitled "Armed and Dangerous" when it first appeared. However, when it was later reprinted as the backup story in Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) #17, its name was "Forewarned is Four-Armed".
Both names have been used for other Spider-Man stories previously.