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.
Peter Parker is taking a tour of the Stark Industries Research Institute. Tony Stark himself is conducting the tour. That's a bit like dropping in to buy an iPad at the Apple Story and having Steve Jobs ask if you would like to have it gift wrapped. Assuming you bought it before Steve Jobs died, of course. Having your iPad gift-wrapped by Dead Steve Jobs would just be wrong on so many levels.
Anyhow. Peter Parker and Tony Stark are together at Stark Labs. That means that the chance of there not being some sort of high-tech super-villain attack in the next three panels is about 0.0001%.
And... here it comes. Through the walls of the building come crashing the Mad Thinker's Android, a Doom-Bot, a Sentinel (or two), The Vision (of the Avengers), Machine-Man, Super-Adaptoid, Dragon-Man, and a few more robot characters that I didn't really care enough to figure out the identities of.
You will be unsurprised to hear that Peter quickly disappears and Spider-Man turns up a few seconds later. But where is Tony Stark's personal bodyguard Iron Man who is never seen actually guarding Tony's body but only appears as soon as Tony himself has disappeared? Oh, here he is.
Cue a few pages of fighting, until we learn that the man behind all the robots is actually... not a man at all, but Ultron, super-robot foe of the Avengers. Ultron is attempting to access the adamantium-smelting facility at the Stark research site, in order to... I dunno. Something to do with destroying mankind. Let's see. It's got to be somewhere here in the small print.
AHA! Yep, here it is. Ultron plans to use the adamantium to clone himself a thousand times over. Or some other similar MacGuffin.
Ultron makes his way to the adamantium smelter and prepares to... umm... steal the molten adamantium I guess. But fortunately, Spider-Man was paying attention earlier on the tour and he learned that there is a simple level on the control panel that will (very conveniently you must admit) cause super-frozen gas to spray all over the smelter observation platform upon which Ultron is standing.
Can our hero press the button? Yes, he can. Ultron is snap-frozen and disabled.
Iron Man thanks Spider-Man for his help. The end.
The best way to avoid doing anything wrong is really to avoid doing anything at all. And that's pretty much what this story does.
Spider-Man is a given. Pick the co-star and villain - Iron Man and Ultron respectively. Now just do the least work possible to get a super-hero battle.
Simplest plot? Ultron wants to become all-powerful.
Simplest location? Stark Laboratories.
Simplest way to get Spider-Man there? He's taking a tour.
Simplest way to get Iron Man there? He's giving the tour.
Simplest way to get a big slug-fest? Lots of robots controlled by Ultron.
Simplest way to defeat the villain? The hero pushes a button that activates a device that wins the fight.
This story is utterly linear, mindlessly predictable and just plain dull.
On pure "story" terms, it's probably bad enough to deserve a two-web rating. But really, I don't think that's punishment enough for this kind of epic laziness.
I believe that slapdash laxness of this extra-ordinary degree merits an exemplary punishment.
I'm going to give a one-web rating in the hope that somebody learns a lesson from this!