This long-running three-weekly UK Magazine started out by running reprints for 51 issues. But starting with issue #52, it launched a string of original out-of-continuity Spider-Man stories created in the UK which was to last for more than a decade, until Disney pulled the plug in 2011.
The stories changed their tone throughout that time. The early original stories followed in the style of the preceding reprints, which is to say, similar to Spider-Man Adventures, or the Spider-Man TV (1994) television series. Much later, the stories shifted sideways to become more like a watered-down imitation of Ultimate Spider-Man.
In any case, the original Spider-Man stories occupied eleven or twelve pages of this 32 page publication, which was aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. The plots for these stories featured classic Marvel characters and villains. While they often echoed plots from the mainstream comics, they did so in their own special style. The remainder of the content was filled with puzzles, coloring, posters (reprinted art), fan letters, and promotions for DVDs and computer games.
Unfortunately, last month's inaugural story was a bit of an embarrassment. Maybe "Dracula Lives!" can redeem itself. Or maybe not.
Peter Parker and Mary Jane are attending a fancy dress costume party. Flash Thompson is there, and both he and Peter are wearing identical "swashbuckler" costumes. Suddenly, Dracula and Blade crash through a window.
Dracula? Blade? Yep. THE Dracula, and Blade the Vampire Hunter, who is wearing a ridiculous pair of wrap-around green goggles. Peter Parker (who doesn't have his Spidey costume with him) is forced to steal a Spider-Mask from a fellow party goer in order to disguise himself.
Really Peter? Try this experiment. Go to a party and mingle with your friends. Then go out of the room, put a balaclava on, and come back in (still wearing the same clothes). Now see how many of your friends still recognize you. All of them? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Spidey joins in the battle, and after a brief three-way scrap, Blade is knocked unconscious, and Frankenstein's Monster then shambles in (under the psychic control of Dracula) and throws Blade over a shoulder. Spidey tosses a Spider-Tracer on the departing monster as he leaves with his master.
Peter heads home, presumably having quickly ditched Mary Jane and having also avoided getting caught up in the police investigation. He swaps into his real Spidey costume, and then tracks down Dracula on a cliff-top mini-castle by the sea. Please don't ask me where you find a spooky stone cliff-top castle within web-slinging distance of Manhattan. That's not a question I can answer.
Dracula is preparing at the stroke of midnight to kill Blade and turn him into some sort of subservient creature to join his army which appears to include (as well as Frankenstein's Monster), the Wolfman, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, an Egyptian Mummy, the Creature From the Black Lagoon, and others. Soon, a resurrected African-American half-vampire zombie will join them!
Or not. Spider-Man swings in squirting webbing laced with garlic. After another brief battle, the web-head knocks Dracula unconscious, releasing his unwilling monster servants from their mental control. Dracula recovers sufficiently to jump out of a window and dive into the sea far below, followed by all the other angry monsters seeking their revenge.
The punchline: "Yeah, well someone like Dracula was always heading for a fall!"
If anything, this story is even more stupid than the "Doctor Carnage" tale that preceded it. But it is equally more silly, which somehow makes the illogical and irrational plot a bit more palatable.
Almost dumb enough to be charming, let's give this one two webs.