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 Parker is in Chinatown, shooting photos for the Bugle. It's the Chinese New Year, and the dragon dancers are doing their stuff. Peter meets an elderly Chinese man who is watching the parade with a young boy. The man explains that once every ten years, a special ring the "Zingh Yin" is paraded through town - a ring that keeps the Chinese people from fear.
Actually, the last Year of the Dragon was 2000, and the next is 2012, so that's a bit dodgey. Even more bizarre, why parade the ring every 10 years? There are twelve years between dragon years. Maybe somebody didn't do their homework before writing this story. But moving on. Iron Man suddenly appears, smashed through a wall into the scene. His attacker shows himself, THE MANDARIN! Hey, it's a Chinese ring parade, who else did you expect. The Mandarin wants the Zingh Yin, the final ring of power to bring his day of destiny. Naturally.
The old chinese guy asks if Peter is OK, then says: "Given time, The Mandarin will corrupt and twist the Zingh Yin to his evil deeds." Peter replies "First we have to check that everyone is okay. You go that away - and I'll go this away."
This is just bizarre. First of all, Peter's reply doesn't even make sense. Secondly, Peter and the old/young Chinese pair were the only ones standing in the way of the rubble blast. They're the ones that should be being "checked". Heh, an old guy and a kid get hit with rubble, and the first thing you do is send them off to check the others? Huh?
Anyhoo, Peter changes into Spidey "under cover of a nearby alleyway". Not sure how an alleyway gives you cover, but let's ignore that. He touches base with Iron Man, and battle commences. The Mandarin brings out his Robot Dragons. Cue a couple of pages of Iron Man vs. Dragon panels. Spidey tackles the Mandarin, who loudly announces that his new ring "will only work in a climate of fear". Hmm... that's a bit dumb, giving away your secret weakness.
Anyhow, Spidey is knocked back, but the young Chinese kid refuses to be afraid, and so Spidey manages to KO the Mandarin on the rebound. Iron Man turns up (having defeated the dragon robots), but then Mandarin unleases the power of the Zingh Zhang Rhing Rhang, or whatever it was called. But the Mandarin isn't powerful enough, and the ring destroys him instead.
Iron Man wants to take the ring, but the old Chinese guy says it belongs to the people of Chinatown, and promises to hide it where nobody will find it. I can't really see how you can have it both ways... if the ring is available to the people, then it's not hidden safely. But there you go.
I know these stories are supposed be "just for kids", but as always, I argue the case that a well-written childrens story can still have something for adults. I'm truly sorry to stick the boot in here again, but there's just nothing in this story that I can appreciate, it's just a series of somewhat predictable events in stilted sequence.
All I'm asking for is a couple of clever little things to make me smile, or a twist that I didn't expect, an interesting character to take note of, or even a gentle lesson or observation subtly delivered. Any one of these will do. Even a comic book story should have something to justify its existance. This tale just smells of space-filler. It's eleven pages long, it features Spidey and Iron Man, and some villains. That's enough for the editors perhaps, but it's not enough for me.
Even the artwork is static and lack-lustre. Peter looks more like Harrison Ford than Peter Parker. One and a half-webs is the best I can offer here. Kids deserve more credit than this.