Welcome to our "British History" lecture series. Our goal is to shed some light onto the murky history of one of Spidey's lesser known current titles... the alternate universe UK-only series Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine).
Started in 1995 as "reprints plus filler", it transmogrified itself a few years later and swapped that reprint content for 11 pages of original story content written by UK creators.
It's still running currently (in 2010). But we only started regularly reviewing from issue 100 or so (and even then we had a break for a couple of years during the #120's and #130's). Now, thanks to the joint miracles of eBay UK and international shipping, we're planning to track down and review all those other stories that slipped through the cracks the first time around.
Previous reviews of my still-rather-hit-and-miss collection have seen us leaping in mid-arc. This time around it seems we're in at the start of a brand new story. The future is a mystery. Well, nearly. Cover makes it pretty clear that Doc Ock is involved somehow.
Things seem to be going pretty well for Spidey. He's out pottering around town, foiling burglaries and rescuing puppies. Even better, apparently "MJ loves him" and "Gentry is off his case". I'm not sure who Gentry is or was - presumably that's a story from an earlier issue. Maybe Gentry is a college official, or maybe they're an NYPD detective. We may never learn.
But enough of our hero. Before we go much further we're going to need a villain or three. So let's get started. Max Dillon (aka Electro) is in prison. Having faked the loss of his powers and good behavior, he reckons he'll be out on the streets. Not bad going. In a few dozen issues, Peter Parker grows a year older. Meanwhile in that same time frame a psychotic super-villain with a long history of remorseless criminal acts has time to be tried, convicted, sentenced, and freed for good behavior. Given that the U.S.A. aims to have the highest prison population rates in the world, clearly they're not making up those numbers with super-villains!
Meanwhile, fresh villainy is afoot. H.Y.D.R.A. (I'm assuming you're familiar with that particular brand of irredeemable and inextinguishable criminal organisation) has enlisted the aid of "The Eraser", an alien-faced humanoid with the power to wipe people out of existence, stroke by stroke. So. Electro, Hydra, Eraser. That's probably enough for an eleven page story, right? Not even close! Ever since Spider-Man destroyed Doc Ock's "Lurker" project (no idea, don't ask me) Otto needs more money! So he's on the rampage too.
Now that we have enough bad guys on board, let's get back to our hero before we forget who's magazine this is. Peter is taking a glamorous Mary Jane Watson to the "Millionaire's Ball". Let's ignore the fact that any wealthy person who attends a "Millionaire's Ball" and isn't being ironic is almost certainly a complete and utter jerk. Let's assume for a moment that if you held a "Millionaire's Ball" that a bunch of Millionaires would say "hey, a ball just for people with big bank accounts, that sounds awesome" and turn up just so everybody could see how rich they were. Let's also assume that college kid Peter Parker is attending as a photographer, and for some reason whoever paid for him decided it was a good idea for the college kid to bring a date to the Millionaire's Ball.
If such a series of unlikely events was to occur, the Doc Ock would almost certainly crash the event. The Living Eraser (prompted by Hydra) might also do the same. Peter Parker would naturally find a lame excuse to become Spider-Man, and all three would fight. Now, rules say that when a hero fights two villains who are a team, they will nearly always split up. By contrast when fighting to villains who are not a team, they will always join forces. Ock and Eraser-head follow that latter part of the rule. They agree to work together, and run off together to make plans.
The Millionaire Jerks then tackle Spidey, claiming that he was also a bad guy. At this stage MJ intervenes in Spider-Man's defense, allowing the web-head to disappear and return shortly after as Peter. At the end of it all, Peter and MJ are in loving embrace. Meanwhile Ock and Eraser are making plans to (a) defeat Spider-Man and (b) change the world. Hydra meanwhile is determined to have revenge for the Eraser's betrayal.
This is all pretty silly stuff. There's no subtlety asked or given in this story.
No major blunders. But plenty of cliches and very little charm. Two webs.