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 today (in 2010).
Since I don't live in the UK, I've been dependent on the kindness of others to get my hands on a regular feed of this title. My original sources helped me get issues #103-#118, and I reviewed them as they came out. Then I lost my supply for two or three years until the late #140's when I started collecting again in earnest. Most recently I have been picking up a few back issues on eBay UK, and dutifully filling in the gaps in this Looking Back section entitled "British History".
So let's leap back in the middle of things with no regard for personal safety as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four face Doctor Doom in a story entitled... "To Save Tomorrow!". Well, apart from describing my retirement funding strategy, let's see what else that means.
Doctor Doom is in town, with time to kill. Sure, not that much time... but it's enough time to kill Reed Richards, which is his clearly stated plan. Mind you, this is a funny sort of Doctor Doom, with his armor a patchwork of Iron Man, Doom, and a few other bits and pieces.
Still, he's a close-enough version of the regular Doom to get down to the point of things in the same sort of business-like manner. He heads to the Baxter Building, declares that he's there to kill Reed, and offers the rest of the FF the option to surrender. Heh, yeah right! Battle is joined, but this over-powered Doom has an easy victory over the quixotic quartet. The victorious Victor stands poised to destroy his stretchy foe...
...but Spidey swings through a window (having heard the noise while swinging in the vicinity) and suddenly the fight's all on again. Our wise-cracking web-slinger makes some comment about Einstein, which Doom doesn't get. Huh? Einstein, the super-genius guy. Everybody knows him! Oh, dear. Future-Doom (for such it is) realizes he's reached the wrong reality, and calls a Time-out.
For once the good guys are prepared to listen (since it's clearly important for plot advancement), and Victor explains that he is from ten years in the future where Reed Richards is a cruel tyrant. His plan was to trip back in time and kill the younger Reed Richards. However, clearly he has transported himself to the wrong past timeline, and with his time circuits fried by the trip, he's now stuck!
Oh noes! How to get back? Hmm... maybe through the temporal portal that has just opened to admit... The Human Torch! Specifically, a robot version of the human torch who rapidly sets about attacking basically everybody. Still, robot-Johnny has picked the wrong fight, as Doom + The Four + Spidey prove more than a match for his flaming-cyborg-psychosis.
So what did that all prove? Well, it proves to Reed Richards that Doom is telling the truth, and it inspires the heroes to take Doom's side - though with a little reluctance in some quarters. A friendly Doom is still a pretty creepy Doom. But even with those concerns, the newly assembled gang of good guys (Spidey included) hop into the nearest Fantasticar and blast through the robo-Torch's still operating time portal to go and wreak righteousness on Reed Richards in an alternate future.
And if that doesn't promise merriment and mayhem next issue, I don't know what does.
This is a story in the right place at the right time. Featuring all our favorite characters, it's told with a good balance of simplicity and detail. There's no attempt at continuity, just an all-out fun-fest supported by some bright, computer-shaded artwork which fits fine with the whole.
Sure, this story is hardly likely to challenge the Albert Einstein's among you. Albert Einstein? You've never heard of him? But... oh, I get it, you're making a joke.
Anyhow, I'm pretty sure this isn't an entirely new story concept either. The "Good Doctor Doom vs. Evil Reed Richards" has been put through its paces a couple of times before, I'm pretty sure. Well, that's not the end of the word (so to speak). These tie-in kids books often pick through the classics for ideas.
This ain't brain surgery, but then again, it's not really aimed at the neurosurgeon reader. It hits the spot just fine for a teen-age magazine with no real interest in long-term continuity. Let's be generous and give it four webs while we see where it goes.