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.
I'm currently running catch-up reviews for all the back issues I've managed to find in the past twelve months, in our Lookback section... "British History".
So much for Peter Parker's plan to spend a quiet Christmas Eve finding the perfect gift for his Aunt May. The Green Goblin has kidnapped Santa, and a well-aimed pumpkin bomb puts paid to Spidey's attempt to follow the trail. Or has it? An equally well-aimed spider-tracer swings things back in our hero's favor, and Spider-Man eventually tracks Goblin back to Oscorp.
There, in a purpose-built laboratory, the Green Goblin has strapped Santa into a machine to turn him into... Bad Santa! (Good Movie). Now Father Christmas has become Norman's partner-in-crime. The big fat man in the red suit has become a two-fisted fury, and his pounding fur-lined gloves spell the end of Spider-Man!
Leaving the comatose web-head behind (clubbed unconscious by Father Christmas, how embarrassing) , Norman and Santa go out on their mission of meanness. Together they steal all the presents from the children of the world, before heading back to the North Pole with their ill-gotten loot!
Now how is Spider-Man (recovered but still slightly groggy) supposed to make it to the North Pole? If only there was a way. If only... oh yeah, Santa left his magical sleigh behind, along with Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen, and the rest of the reindeer crew. Spider-Man hops into the sleigh and makes his way to Lapland, where he finds Santa and unpacking their stolen goodies.
"Ho-Ho-Ho!" yells Santa, "You should have stayed in New York, Spider-Man. I'm going tear your..."
But just at that moment, a poorly thrown pumpkin bomb catches Father Christmas in its blast zone. And when Santa Claus recovers, he finds himself free of the Goblin's brain-washing. This time, the Goblin is a long way from home, and Santa isn't caught by surprise any more. Norman's name is definitely on the Very, Very Naughty List!
But fear not, Santa has an idea how the Green Goblin can make amends. Dressed in an elf costume, the Goblin is grudgingly obliged to act as Santa's little helper this year, and help hand out all the presents once more. Christmas is Saved!
Honestly, I think this may very well be the oddest Spider-Man story I have ever read.
No, wait. I forgot about Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine). That stuff pushes the envelope to breaking point. But in any case, I think you'll agree that this Santa story is pretty far out there. I think it's Spider-Man flying the reindeer-drawn sleigh back to the North Pole that really sent this one over the edge.
Tough call rating this one. My instinctive reaction was incredibly negative. But after two beers and a whisky, this story suddenly seems a whole lot more amusing.
I'm gonna give it 4 webs, before I sober up.
So, how did Santa and the Green Goblin get back to the North Pole if they left the sleigh behind?
Favorite Santa Line: "You've been bad boys and girls so I'm taking back everything I gave you last year. Try saying Happy Christmas now, you snotty-nosed little punks!"