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).
This UK magazine series started in 1995 running "reprints plus filler". Then in 1999 the formula changed to feature 11 pages of original story content written by UK creators. The title ran nearly exclusively original stories in that new format until 2011, when it reverted to a reprint series after Disney acquired Marvel and pulled the plug on UK-created content.
At Spider-Fan, we reviewed many of those original stories as they came out, until we lost our UK supply chain. 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.
Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman) is restless in her London bed. She puts on her costume and goes out to prowl the night, until her attention is attracted by a burglar alarm chiming out from a shop. She foils a burglary, but then is surprised by a pyjama-clad man running out of the shop next door.
Spider-Woman enters the second shop where she sees the source of the man's panic — a swarm of blue ghosts swirl around the room, clustered around an old free-standing mirror. But when Jessica prepares her venom bolt, the ghosts disappear of their own accord.
The next day, Jessica returns to the haunted store to buy that mirror.
Meanwhile across the Atlantic in New York city, Peter Parker is being sent on a mission to London. His task is to capture a photograph of the mysterious new Spider-Themed female heroine who has been seen in England's capital city.
And so, through the magic of comics, that same evening sees Spider-Woman running through the streets of London chasing more blue ghosts, with the whole fiasco being watched by Spider-Man who "just happened to be swinging past at that exact same moment".
After a half-hour chasing ghosts around the city (for no obvious reason other than to give Spider-Man a chance to get involved), the spooks lead Spider-Woman back to her own apartment and the mystical mirror which... OH NOT AGAIN! It's ANOTHER FREAKING INTER-DIMENSIONAL PORTAL.
Seriously, they should rename these UK magazines to something like "Marvel Inter-Dimensional Portal Stories, featuring Spider-Man & Friends". Every second issue or so, there's another inter-dimensional or trans-spatial portal. It's lazy, lazy writing, and it never seems to stop.
The Dread Dormammu appears through the portal, seeking to subjugate the nations of Earth... again. He summons an evil version of Spider-Man from the mirror to fight the good Spider-Man, and then Dormammu himself proceeds to battle a severely out-classed Spider-Woman.
Can Spider-Man triumph over his dark self? Can Spider-Woman survive?
Of course they can. Spider-Man throws off his foe, shatters the mirror, and promptly causes the whole inter-dimensional invasion to be sucked back in on itself... saving the world.
Of course, that does cost him seven years of bad luck.
Ugh. All the usual elements of a bad UK magazine story are here. Silly coincidences, linear plot with no twists, stilted dialogue, and of course the obligatory dimensional portal.
The only bright point is the top-notch professional art by John Royle and Lee Townsend, richly coloured by Dylan Teague. But that's not enough to save the story.
Contrived and unconvincing.