This is a 60-part weekly series being pumped into the market by Eaglemoss publications. They don't know much about Spidey, but they know that 60 * $8.99 = quite a lot. And I'm the kind of idiot who will spend that sort of money without doing the math.
There's an original 7-page story in every issue, and collectible trading cards too. Sure, the stories are terrible, the art has been 90% ghastly, and the price is far, far too high. But there's glossy paper, trading cards, and an original Spider-Man comic strip series that 99% of the U.S. collectors will never own!
Remember, we're on strict rations here. Eight pages per story is the limit in this magazine, so we'd better be getting along.
Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. are investigating a secret Red Skull base just discovered in the heart of New York, left over from World War II. It contains a psychic bomb. S.H.I.E.L.D. is planning to blow it up, but we have time to cut to Peter Parker first.
Peter is helping is Aunt May, who is volunteering at a refuge for the aged and poor. The aged and poor are watching the TV, when the newscaster relates the story that S.H.I.E.L.D. has just discovered a "mind bomb" and is going to blow it up. This is some pretty sharp reporting. You would kind of expect S.H.I.E.L.D. to try and avoid advertising the fact that they've just discovered an unknown psychic weapon in the middle of town. There'll be a Pulitzer in that scoop for somebody, I reckon.
But the important part is that old man "Gulliver Jones" suddenly leaps up when he hears the story, and rushes off. Peter follows him out into the alley, where he sees Mr. Jones suddenly turn into fire and fly away. Peter then remembers that Jones was "that old British War Hero, Captain Kerosene" that Spider-Man met back in Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #44.
Captain Kerosene was around back in the days of the war, and he has suddenly remembered about the secret base in New York, and also that the "mind bomb" is actually a person – a psychic, trapped in suspended animation.
Spider-Man heads in pursuit, and before long Spidey, Kerosene, Iron Man and Nick Fury (with S.H.I.E.L.D.) are all gathered at the old base. But we have no villain! Oh, wait, here he comes now. The new Red Skull arrives in a flying saucer which is "programmed to fight all known heroes". True to its word, the machine defeats Spidey, Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. But it wasn't prepared for Captain Kerosene, who has been long in retirement.
Kerosene defeats the (new) Red Skull, sacrificing himself in a giant explosion. Conveniently, nobody else is harmed, and the blast also conveniently blows off the metal casing of the mind bomb, without even damaging the man trapped inside.
Peter returns to Aunt May, who asks what happened to Gulliver Jones. "He just vanished in a puff of smoke," replies Peter. Ha Ha.
The stories in this title just can't seem to win. Mostly they are disappointingly simple and facile. By contrast, when they actually try to add some structure, they just end up being forced and contrived.
This one falls into the latter category. Yes, there's a plot. But each plot point is so clumsily implemented that it's really quite embarrassing to read.
There is an attempt at continuity, by re-using "hero" Captain Kerosene from the earlier. However, the effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that my interpretation of issue #44 was that the World War II team (consisting of Namor, Captain America, Professor Einstein, and Captain Kerosene) encountered by Spidey was (a) and joke, and (b) set in an alternate reality which never actually took place.
Nice try. At least they made an effort this time. Shame it still sucked.
One and a half webs.