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.
Could this really be Spider-Man, robbing $2,000,000 from an armoured car?
No, of course not. This is Spider-Man plot formula #7. Somebody wants to ruin Spider-Man's reputation, they hire an impostor/robot to fake some crimes. The Daily Bugle will say "We told you so", but Spider-Man will reveal the truth. Let's get into it.
Peter and Mary Jane are watching a movie on TV when a newsflash interrupts to announce that Spider-Man has committed a terrible crime. Specifically, the aforementioned robbery. Of course, that plot device wouldn't work now in the days of DVDs, Netflix, and on-demand cable. But this is 2002, and I guess we can forgive it just this once. But no more! This is the VERY last time!
By the way, I'm guessing that Peter and MJ made up again in Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #76 (which is one of the issues I'm still missing), following her short but effective dumping of Peter in Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #75. They seem to be very cosy now. Even so, Peter can't resist the urge to fake illness and immediately go hunting his evil doppelgänger.
Of course, as per the regular formula, the good people of Manhattan have turned against Spider-Man. As the web-head performs his nightly patrols, foiling muggings and bank robberies, the police and the local citizenry all treat him as public enemy number one. It's amazing how fast news spreads, eh? The Daily Bugle is in on the action too, with a $100,000 reward for the capture of Spider-Man.
Meanwhile, the Chameleon is back at Kingpin's headquarters (at the top of the Chrysler building - for some reason Fisk Tower doesn't seem to have made it into this universe). Yep, the Chameleon is the fake Spidey, and Wison Fisk is paying the bills. Actually, since the Chameleon just ripped off $2,000,000 from the armoured car then it would appear that the Chameleon is covering his expenses very nicely, thank you.
But Fisk wants to go one further. He wants Spider-Man to be more than a wanted criminal... he wants our hero to be a wanted murderer! And so the Chameleon leaps once more into action.
Cut to the New York subway, where we find Peter Parker... broke and unable to afford web-fluid for the swinging trip home. A bunch of muggers ply their business in Peter's subway car. Spider-Man (the fake one) turns up, beats up the muggers, then turns nasty and takes the place of the muggers to demand the loot from the victims (including Peter).
Fake Spidey then runs away, but Peter manages to tag him with a Spider-Tracer, which takes us into the final part of the tale.
Spider-Man/Chameleon heads for the bank where Jonah Jameson just happens to be attending to his personal financial affairs. There, the phony web-head pulls out a machine gun and is just about to kill Jonah (who he has picked at random to be a murder victim to ruin Spidey's reputation).
Naturally, the real Spider-Man arrives just in time. Accusations fly, as do fists. The end, however, was never in doubt. The Chameleon is revealed, Spider-Man's reputation is saved, and the next morning the Daily Bugle still blames Spider-Man for everything.
Meanwhile, the Kingpin is angry, despite being $2,000,000 richer. Bullseye reckons he should get another go at Spider-Man next time.
First up, how did the Chameleon get the super-strength to tear apart an armoured car with his bare hands? If he can do that, then why bother working for the Kingpin at all?
Secondly, we are of course asked to swallow the usual sequence of extra-ordinary co-incidences. For example, the Chameleon just happens to randomly select (a) the subway car on which Peter is riding, and (b) the bank which Jonah is visiting.
Once again, this one is right out of "The Dummies Guide to Writing Traditional Spider-Man stories".
Do we really need to see these tales recycled over and over again? I guess that as long as there's money in it, that's what we'll get.
Here's two and a half webs. Right out of my "Dummies Guide to rating boring Spider-Man stories."