Ever wondered what happened to the Spider-Man of the 90's TV cartoon series? Well, he's alive and kicking in Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine, currently being released every three weeks in the United Kingdom. Each issue features a swag of puzzles, posters, letters, and general all-out Spidey fun - all aimed at the young at heart. Plus, there's an 11-page original story featuring more of Spider-Man's Adventures.
The scene opens rather suddenly in "The Latverian Embassy", with Spidey and Sue Richards (AKA Invisible Girl of the Fantastic Four) surprised to meet each other. Seems each had been lead to believe that the other was in trouble. Of course, why Sue would have come alone to Doom's sanctum is a little unclear.
After spending a minute carefully checking that this wasn't the second episode of a multi-part story, I finally figured that nope, this was just a story that started abruptly, and I returned to the page where Doctor Doom turns up and does his "Down on your knees, mortals!" schtick. Cue a fight, with Spidey & Sue vs. Doom and various Doom-Bots. Run this for a page, until Doom explains that one of his Doom-Bots has gone back in time to the 19th century, and he needs help to bring him back.
Let's assume, for the purposes of our story, that this is the kind of thing that Doom was likely to do. Let's also assume, for now, that the two heroes would agree to help Doom. Then let's send the two heroes back to 1850 New York City, where a bunch of thugs in stripey shirts and metal masks are going around causing general thuggery.
Clearly, these are the agents of the wayward Doom-Bot. Cue two more pages of fighting between Spidey, Sue, and the trouble-making mask-men. Actually, make that three pages, until Doom turns up, ready to return willingly. Seems that he was the boss of the "Doom Gang", which he created "as a distraction" while he gathered his strength. Now that is just bizarre. Doom has never supported random violence such as his thugs were enacting. Furthermore, if you were "gathering your strength", surely you would want to lie low and avoid trouble?
We'll just have to ignore the lameness of the plot, and keep moving, as this Doom-Bot claims to be the real Doom, a plot-twist that was telegraphed a mile off. To prove his claim, Doom removes his mask to show his scarred face to the two heroes. The regular Doom would have hated to do that, but I guess we'll just have to ignore that. Anyhow, Doom, Sue and Spidey return to find, yes, the real "evil Doom-Bot" has massed an attack. Another battle follows (the third in 11 pages) which contains some spectacular coloring work for the pyrotechnics. In the end, the real Victor Von Doom triumphs over the imposter, and regains control of his mechanoid army.
Finally, Doom kicks out the heroes with no thanks, and a promise that next time they meet "it will be as foes!" What a Doom-Dick!
Sadly, the story was pretty transparent. The characterisation of Doom was completely rubbish, and really the whole thing just did nothing for me. It was a disappointing effort after the entertaining plots from the preceding two issues.
On the plus side, the artwork is first rate, really quite a treat. Major kudos need to go to the colorist, Dylan Teague, who really did a number with his computer shading tools, with lovely fades, white-outs and flares all through the battle scenes. Of course, you wouldn't want the colorist to dominate in every issue - in general a colorist should be like a movie soundtrack - always present and enhancing the tale, but not dominating. But if there is no story, then why shouldn't the colorist have a field day?
Disappointing. Good art can't cover for lousy writing. Let's hope for better next time. Two and a half webs.