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", soon began printing original stories in a kid-friendly generic Spider-Man world very similar to that of the "1990's Spider-Man TV Cartoon". It later rebooted itself to be more similar to the "Ultimate Spider-Man" universe. The series is still running today (in 2011), but I have recently been acquiring back issues and filling in the long-neglected review gaps for the middle issues of the series.
In recent issues, Norman Osborn (aka Green Goblin) was dead, but now he isn't. Harry was insane, but now he isn't. Also, Spider-Man was in trouble with the NYPD and incredibly unpopular. But... you guessed it... now he isn't.
Peter Parker is dejected. It's his birthday, and nobody cares. No cards, no invitations, not even a simple "Happy Birthday". To soothe his sorrows, he suits up and heads out to find Sandman and Doctor Octopus, both of home have recently taken unauthorized leave of absence from prison.
And where are our villains-du-jour? Well, they're at the home/laboratory of Henry "Hank" Pym, super-scientist Avenger and inventor of "Pym Particles", the very best thing for growing and shrinking people and things. With the Avengers out of town for the day, Ock has persuaded Sandman to help him break into Pym's lab, which proceeds as planned.
Unfortunately for Ock, the subsequent sequence of events is far from anticipated. With the Pym Particles in his hands, Sandman wants to know what the "plan" is, and Ock is simply rude to him in return. This causes Sandy to suffer a distinct lack of camaraderie, to the point where he slugs Ock on the jaw, then sprays him with shrinking particles and leaves him under an up-turned beaker.
Spidey turns up shortly afterwards to discover Ock in this rather embarrassing predicament. The web-head adds insult to injury by shrinking the Doctor even further, before handing him over the the NYPD. Spidey subsequently heads out to find Sandman, which isn't too hard since our gritty bad-guy has super-sized himself and is causing major mayhem.
What follows is a Pym-particle pandemonium. Sandman up-sizes again. Spidey attempts to up-size to join him, but temporarily down-sizes himself by mistake. That's soon taken care of, and before long, Spidey is also "big". This of course prompts Sandman to grow himself one final time... and that proves to be his undoing.
For (as any true Avengers fan knows) there's a practical limit to the size a human can grow themselves with these particles. After a certain stage, the body just can't support itself. Spider-Man knew this. Sandman didn't. Victory goes to our hero by default!
All this is amusing enough, but we're not finished quite yet. There's Peter's birthday woes yet to deal with. Resolution arrives promptly in the form of the Avengers themselves, returned sooner than expected, though just a little to late to help in the battle. They congratulate Spidey on the win over Sandman, but the web-head just grumbles about nobody caring about his birthday.
Well, that won't do! The Avengers rapidly arrange a surprise party at the Avengers Mansion (Quicksilver is good to have on board when you need anything done fast like that), and they feed Spidey full of birthday cake. Peter staggers home completely stuffed... only to find all his civilian friends have arranged a surprise party too! Now Peter, eat up that cake!
An excellent tale all around. Great interplay between the dual identities of Peter and Spider-Man. The fight scenes are good harmless fun, the script is solid and there are no major glitches anywhere.
This is issue #150, and this story is thoroughly worthy of the sesquicentennial issue. Four webs.
This issue came bagged with a free copy of Spider-Man 3: The Movie (Panini Sticker Album) and a pack of stickers.
Also, this ends my first run of "British History" lookbacks. But fear not, UK Magazine fans! I have managed to acquire another three or four dozen back issues, and I'll be making another run through the title, filling in many of the gaps I couldn't plug before.