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. In the past four years, I've been able to review every issue starting with #152. Now thanks to the miracle of eBay, I've acquired most of the issues from #132 up to #151... so let's get on with the job of filling in the gaps in our Looking Back section... "British History".
In current issues, Norman Osborn is dead... at least for now. Nobody (except Spider-Man) knows that he died as the Green Goblin, and his son Harry believes Spider-Man to be responsible for the murder of an innocent man, and is mounting an increasingly aggressive campaign against our favorite web-head.
Some back history: Spider-Man is wanted by the police for questioning in relation to the death of Norman Osborn. Naturally, we know that Norman was the Green Goblin and that he died as a result of his own evil machinations, but the general public could be persuaded otherwise. Jonah Jameson doesn't need much convincing at all. So when Peter and MJ (heading home from a quiet date together) run across Jonah Jameson in a good mood, our favorite web-slinger knows that something is up. And indeed it is. The District Attorney has set an appearance date to get Spider-Man into the dock to present his side of things.
Of course, for that situation our hero is going to need a good lawyer... and you know who we're thinking of. Yeah, Daredevil. But when Spider-Man runs into DD, ol' Hornhead turns him down. Spidey runs off in annoyance without giving Matt the chance to explain... and runs right into Spider-Woman.
Spider-Woman (aka Jessica Drew) has been tailing Spider-Man for a couple of issues now, on behalf of some mysterious third party. And this time, after a brief tussle, Drew leads Spidey to meet that aforementioned sponsor. Who is... She Hulk, of course! At least, it's Jennifer Walters, the legal eagle alter ego of She-Hulk. All is explained quickly enough. Walters had Spider-Man followed so that she could convince herself of the web-slinger's innocence. And with that now done to her satisfaction, she now offers her legal defense services free of charge.
Our hero agrees, and the big day finally arrives. Spider-Man (defended by Jennifer Walters as promised) gets his day in court. The problem is, the prosecution have found themselves a damning witness. Namely, one of the security guards at Oscorp who proclaims that he saw Spider-Man throw Norman Osborn into a vat of burning chemicals. Yeah, it's a lie. But I'm sure we'll soon find out what's going on here.
Meanwhile in the court next door, Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) is defending the Rhino against the usual charges of causing a public nuisance. Seems the Rhino decided to go jogging down the freeway, and came into conflict with a Mack Truck. Well, that explains why Murdock couldn't defend Spidey. Major time-tabling conflict. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Rhino plot thread intersected with the Spider-Man plot thread before too much more time passed. Mark my words.
Back to the main event. Ms. Walters now plays her trump card: Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts. The plan is to have the Doctor reveal the truth using the Eye of Amagotto. As you might expect, however, the judge is not quite so keen to set this as a legal precedent. But Ms. Walters persuades the judge to discuss it in his chambers, where Doctor Strange uses the eye to "discover" that unbeknown to the general masses, the Judge's middle name is "Margaret".
Now, I'm not entirely convinced that revealing somebody's middle name is sufficient grounds to overturn the American Legal System. However, the Judge seems suitably impressed, and after gaining agreement that his middle name will remain a secret, he allows Doctor Strange to take the floor in the courtroom. A quick wave of the magic eye forces the guard to admit that he was not actually on duty that night.
Surely a check of the shift roster at Oscorp would have revealed all that with much less fuss? Ah well. Probably not quite as entertaining. Anyhow, the guard goes one step further and confesses that Harry Osborn forced him to tell the lie. That's a pretty major confession, and one which should (if cause and effect have any say in the matter, which they usually don't) cause Harry some grief down the track.
And... here comes the sub-plot! Yeah, it's about what you expected. The Rhino breaks free and wrecks the place. Spider-Man and She Hulk take the next three pages to bring him back under control again before we can get back to the main plot.
Time for the wrap-up. With a sense of order restored, Spider-Man is found "Not Guilty". That should make his life a little simpler, for a while at least. Jameson is unimpressed. Spider-Man is happy, and also forgives Matt Murdock. The End. Until next issue.
A pretty solid story. The "Spidey vs. NYPD" storyline had just about run its dash, and was due for a wrap-up. This did the job in tidy fashion with a few fan-favorite guest appearances.
No real flaws in this issue. Yes, it was fairly predictable, but I would also say it was solid and to-the-point. In a rare burst of generosity, let's call this Four Webs.
This issue included a free gift "Attack Spinner!" as well as a large poster. Double goodies!