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.
Here's the deal. Venom's symbiotic costume has been taken to a top-secret research station in the "Frozen North". Of course, given the rate the glaciers are melting up there, another century and it's going to be the "Melted North". But let's not dwell on that. Anyhow, the costume got locked in a box, then the research team departed from the base, and it has become a "disused" base. But... the silly scientists, they left behind the alien creature... the multi-million-dollar symbiote that governments and criminals alike have killed to obtain. Oh, those silly forgetful boffins.
Still, it's all good luck for Lady Deathstrike, who happends to be wandering the base looking for any abandoned top-secret technology that can help her and her fellow cyborg team "The Reavers" in their battle against Wolverine and the X-Men. Poorly-clad ninja-cyborg, meet deadly alien symbiote. Wow, cool + cool = double-cool! It's a ninja-alien-cyborg! Nothing beats that! And check out her new name. VENOMSTRIKE! That is totally MEGA!
As the snow picks up, her loyal team-mates decide the weather is packing in, and decide to fly out. Fly a chopper as a storm comes in? In the Arctic? Right, putting aside the sheer idiocy of that, rather than sit out the storm and stay with their team, they decide to fly out and leave their boss to freeze/starve to death. And of course, VENOMSTRIKE decides to ride secretly on the bottom of the chopper, rather than join her team-mates. Why? Err... because they might be angry that she found something... that they were looking for...? No, that's silly. Anyhow, she could hide the symbiote any time she wanted if that was a problem. Nope, I'm just guessing that a windchill factor of minus 100 just SEEMED like a good idea at the time.
Moving on, VENOMSTRIKE wants to kill Wolverine. And Spider-Man. Wolvie scents the two combined creatures, realises that they've teamed-up, and decides that he needs to enlist Spidey to help find her (and to help Venom find him). He does that enlisting by turning up at the Bugle and assaulting Jonah Jameson. Voila, Spidey turns up. Magic.
VENOMSTRIKE goes on TV and advertises for Wolvie and Spidey. "Bud, what are you waiting for?" ... inquires Wolverine. So off they go... and meet the deadly dame. But what's this? As Spidey goes in to attack... Wolvie steps in the way! Lady Deathstrike is MY responsibility! Huh? But Wolvie ASKED Spidey to help. Ahh... but I'm missing the whole point of the moral dilemma that this carefully articulated tale has so subtly posed. When villains merge, which hero should attack? Cunning! Such deft and enigmatic plotting, shall we ever see its like again?
As Wolvie and Spidey pit claw vs. web, VENOMSTRIKE attacks. But again, the very same dilemma affects villainy also! When two villains collide, which foe should they tackle first? The very enjoinment that gives them the power to destroy also separates them as their internal conflict rages over which hero should take precedence! Oh, twice in one story! What a twist! What a conundrum! Double-whammy. My very senses reel with the blinding insight that such a perturbing puzzle provides! What indeed are they to do?
What indeed? Such a perfect two-some was surely doomed to fade. The light that burns so bright must pale so soon, and thus it is with VENOMSTRIKE! As the two component parts of this deadly evil wage battle within themselves, they are forced apart, returned once more to their individual personas. And with that, Spider-Man wraps the symbiote in webbing within seconds. (Don't ask me how that works, it's never worked before. Heck, the symbiote can MAKE webbing if it wants to). Meanwhile, Wolvie foils Lady D with a well-timed blow. Ah, thus does evil perish. Da END!
OK, there are two ways of looking at this. From the eyes of a six-year old Spidey Fan, this is probably the COOLEST story EVUH! The art is dynamic and in-yer-face in the classic Marvel style (nice work, Jon). The coloring is bright and bold as a strip-club ensemble number (great stuff, John). The whole story ooooozes maximum drool factor, like all fourteen issues of Maximum Carnage reproduced in 3D sparkle-art with surround sound!
Alternatively, from the point of view of this jaded adult long-time Spidey Fan, this is the lamest and most contrived piece of ... you-know-what ... that I have chewed through in quite some while. Quite... some... while.
I'm gonna give writer Jim Alexander a tip o'the hat for pandering perfectly to his pre-teen market, but the "for the record" rating is going to record what this story means to me. And that's a bottom of the barrel half-web.