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.
In our flash-forward splash page, Spider-Man battles a giant robotic squid in the city sewers, watched by Flash Thompson, Larry "The Porcupine" Gentry and Liz Allan. But how did this come to be?
And... jump back to the start of the story. Peter, MJ, Flash, Larry and Liz are at the Silver Spoon for coffee. Peter and MJ then head out for their first ever real date (dinner at a restaurant, after many failed attempts). Meanwhile, Flash & Liz head off to a nightclub. Larry invites himself to tag along with Flash and Liz.
Well, Peter and MJ get about three steps along the road before a woman runs around the corner, latches onto Peter and pleads for his help. "Help me please! It's horrible! Horrible! Don't let it get me!"
That's right. When being attacked by a forty foot robotic squid, the traditional thing to do is to stop running, and cling to the nearest teenage boy.
Naturally, Peter ditches Mary Jane (for the sixth, perhaps seventh time in a row), changes into costume behind a dumpster, and runs off as Spider-Man in the general direction from which the lady was running when she appeared. There Spidey finds yet another lonely woman walking the streets, where she is attacked by... three muggers/rapists.
Spider-Man rescues the woman, wraps up the street hoods, and then dives down a grating into the sewer where he encounters... lots of rats. But fear not. The woman and the rats were just pointless time-wasting. The squid will turn up soon. Honestly!
A cut scene reveals that the monster that terrified the woman is indeed a giant robot squid/octopus contraption, which is being remote controlled by a "shadowy figure". The as-yet-unidentified villain's stated goal is to attract the attention of Spider-Man, then "tear him to pieces".
And... back to... the swinging nightclub where Flash, Liz and Larry are dancing the night away. Or at least, Flash is drinking and grumbling while Larry dances with Liz (who is Flash's erstwhile girlfriend).
Suddenly, the robotic-squid (last seen in the sewers) bursts through the ROOF of the nightclub, and grabs Liz and Larry. Flash sprints to the rescue, and is also grabbed. Carrying its teenage victims, the squid then slithers back through the ceiling panels into the sewers.
What the hell? A nightclub built directly beneath a New York storm sewer, with heating ducts in the ceiling connected to the sewer? Dear Mr. Jason Quinn, writer of Spider-Man stories. Are you familiar with gravity, and the way in which water will follow it?
Spider-Man (still also in the sewers above the nightclub) follows his Spider-Sense back to the creature's secret lair in the heart of the underground drainage system. We see now that the creature is powered by a massive generator which is connected to the monster by a very long power cord.
The shadowy master behind the monster then announces through a loudspeaker that he is looking for Spider-Man. This is Larry's cue. Remember that Larry is secretly the wanna-be super-villain named "The Porcupine", and that Larry also knows Spider-Man's secret identity. Larry is just about to trade that knowledge for his own personal safety, when Spider-Man swings into the scene to start the final battle.
Cue three pages of combat. Spider-Man is grabbed and squeezed, but (as usual) finds last-minute inspiration in his thoughts of the people for whom he cares the most... his Aunt May (who he recently abandoned while she was in hospital), and Mary Jane (with whom he has never had a proper date, and who he ditches at the slightest excuse).
Finally, the monster accidentally destroys its own power supply by hurling Spider-Man at it. Instead of being crushed, blown-up or electrocuted, Spidey conveniently survives while the giant power supply is conveniently destroyed.
Spidey then warns Larry to never again mention his secret identity, and departs.
Peter then returns later to the Silver Spoon to meet his friends. He tells them that he get some great photos of the battle for the Daily Bugle. His friends are (quiet naturally) surprised, and very annoyed to learn that Peter was present at the fight, but spent his time taking pictures instead of trying to rescue them.
Finally, we learn that Doctor Octopus was the man behind the giant tentacled monster.
I hate so many things about this story - in fact about all of the current stories in this title.
I hate the endless chain of inexplicable 1 in a million coincidences: The monster beginning its attack right outside the cafe right at the very moment that Peter leaves; The monster randomly deciding to attack the night club; The monster randomly choosing Peter's friends as its only victims.
I hate the stupid common-sense failures, such as placing a nightclub right beneath an underground sewer. The monster could have easily come from the sewers through the floor. Having the monster come through the ceiling is just a basic, idiotic failure of fundamental thinking.
I hate the fact that even single time that Peter and MJ attempt to get together, something pops up to make Peter run away as Spider-Man. This is just bad writing. How can you build up any tension around the "will the two lovers get any time together to develop their relationship". There's no tension, because there's no doubt. The answer is always no. Absolutely always no. The answer will always be no. There is no relationship. None has ever been allowed to occur. So there's nothing for us to care about.
Also, I hate the fact that Larry even exists. And while we're at it, I hate the childish artwork and the childish dialogue.
In fact, I think I hate everything about this story.
I give it one hateful web.