Ever wondered what happened to the Spider-Man of the 90's TV cartoon series? Well, he's alive and kicking in Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine, currently being released every three weeks in the United Kingdom. Each issue features a swag of puzzles, posters, letters, and general all-out Spidey fun - all aimed at the young at heart. Plus, there's an 11-page original story featuring more of Spider-Man's Adventures.
Peter goes to sell some photos to Jonah. JJJ says they're crap, but takes them anyhow. Hmm... it seems that Jonah is in a good mood. That's never a healthy sign!
The following evening, out web-swinging, Spidy is zapped in a high-voltage electric mesh. He comes conscious a few hours later in an arena that is protected by a force field. A voice informs him that Spidey is to take part in a show that's going out live to five million subscribers on The Internet. Yeah, when anything bad happens, you just know the 'net is to blame!
Spidey is then attacked by a series of foes. Axe-wielding savages, mutated animals, giant robots (twice), armoured guys out of Halo, and finally by... Mysterio! Through all of this (over a number of hours), Spidey just fights, he doesn't try and find any way out, or figure out what's going on. He does, however, manage to figure out Mysterio from the holograms by spotting the absence of footprints in the sand of the arena.
Victorious, Spidey "checks Mysterio's computers" to discover that JJJ provided the 'net access, and took a shared of the profits. Jonah claims he was trying to "do his public duty". Spidey webs a metal knight's helmet on Jonah's head, calls him a "Tinhead" and scoots off. Justice is (scarcely) served.
This story has holes in it that you could drive a stretch Humvee limo through. Firstly, five million paid subscribers to an Internet spectacular is a world first - but somehow, Peter never noticed that the biggest Internet event ever organised was to feature the death of Spider-Man? He never saw the TV ads, the billboards?
Secondly, it's pretty clear that Mysterio wanted to kill Spidey. So, Jonah paid for a televised contract killing, and the police aren't even slightly interested? Power of the press seems to be stretched a little!
Thirdly... if Mysterio could make so many brutal robots, then why use only harmless holograms of himself at the end, instead of real damage-dealing Mysterio robots?
I have some other minor quibbles, like why after discovering a force-field over the top, Spidey didn't try punching a hole in the stadium wall... or running away to find who was behind the whole thing. Like why he didn't just throw sand up in the air to separate the holograms from the "real Mysterio". But that's all minor stuff compared to the fundamental flaws with this story.
I guess I'm slowly starting to accept the painful fact that the UK Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine isn't going to offer stories that follow the everyday rules of logic and established behaviour that the regular Marvel comics generally obey. The most outragous and fanciful events may occur, and that's just something that we have to live with. It still bugs me... there's no reason why stories for kids shouldn't follow "the rules". However, when rating these stories, I'll have to start being more forgiving of giant plot holes, otherwise I'm gonna end up trashing all these tales!
With my new found generousity, I'm going to give this a marginally sub-standard two-and-a-half webs. Not because of the plot problems, but simply because the bulk of the story consists purely of a parade of battle scenes, with very little underlying substance. Sure, the battles are very pretty (artist Jon Howard is in fine form, and colorist Jason Cardy has done a great job with lots of bright primary colors). But that doesn't make up for the lack of actual "story" underneath it all. Sorry, Ferg.