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).
Started in 1995 as "reprints plus filler", it transmogrified itself a few years later and swapped that reprint content for 11 pages of original story content written by UK creators. It's still running today (in 2010).
Since I don't live in the UK, I've been dependent on the kindness of others to get my hands on a regular feed of this title. My original sources helped me get issues #103-#118, and I reviewed them as they came out. Then I lost my supply for two or three years until the late #140's when I started collecting again in earnest. Most recently I have been picking up a few back issues on eBay UK, and dutifully filling in the gaps in this Looking Back section entitled "British History".
Recent issues have been a mish-mash of one-shot stories by various writers, with disappointing results. This issue promises a Green Goblin/Hobgoblin face-off. Let's see where it takes us...
Open scene, the day before Halloween. I wonder how many halloween's Spider-Man has had. Probably at least a hundred, and two hundred Christmases. I'd be jealous, except that most of his holidays feature him arriving with him late, and without a turkey. I'd hate to turn up without a turkey. No, seriously, it's a phobia of mine. There's a Latin word for it and everything.
Cut to the basement of a deserted house. It's also a Green Goblin lair. What? But... since when did Norman Osborn set up lairs in deserted suburban allotments? Well, he did this time, and in the basement is a goblin with glowing eyes... his "Trick Or Treat" device! Oooh! Now, this whole thing launches into a fairly complicated story. So please try and stay focussed while we work through the details on this one.
The approach of Halloween is driving Norman mad, but he has enough self-control left to (anonymously) alert the city to his trick-or-treat device, which will release a swarm of self-replicating nanobots that will "pick the city clean". I.e. kill everybody. Sucks to be New York, as usual. Anyhow, he gets the message out just before he goes gaga. The alert reaches the Daily Bugle, and thus Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man and goes seeking "the one man who can help", i.e. Hobgoblin.
Why? Because Spidey knows that Hobgoblin has the Green Goblin's journal which contains a list of all of Norman's secret bases. Spider-Man finds Hobgoblin, and (since Hobgoblin wants to take over New York and not have it destroyed by nanobots) they agree a temporary truce. So it is that the mis-matched pair manage to find the right abandoned house, just in time to encounter the Green Goblin himself.
Hobgoblin abandons Spider-Man to fight Norman while he himself collects all the equipment from the lair. Spider-Man talks to Norman and persuades him (by reminding him that Harry will die too) to tell him how to disable the device. After a bit of "red wire, blue wire?" tension, the device is deactivated, and both goblins are left for the police to collect.
As a bonus, the Green Goblin's journal is also destroyed, thus protecting Peter's secret identity. Yeah, seems that Hobgoblin is a slow reader, and didn't get up to that part yet.
It's a pretty silly stuff. Lots of running around, secret devices, nanobots, too many Goblins. Despite the apparent complexity, it's all quite pointless really.
But on the other hand, there's nothing particularly offensive about it either. It's harmless fun and games, as long as you don't take it too seriously.
For some reason, I can't seem to bring myself to be too cruel this time around. Harmless Halloween Hobgoblin hooliganism. I'm going to call it a "could-be-better, but not terrible either" two and a half webs.