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 was finally cancelled when Disney took over Marvel, but I have recently been acquiring back issues and filling in the long-neglected review gaps for the middle issues of the series.
Previous issues have featured a long-running Harry/Norman Osborn Green Goblin story. Now with that piece of continuity wrapped up, it's time for something new. Something like, for example... Venom?
Unfortunately, there's nothing new to be seen here.
First, we spend 4 pages of our 12-page story establishing the characters and the scene. Venom and Carnage are quickly given their origin stories. Then it's time for the extended fighting scenes which typically make up the bulk of the material in this magazine.
Carnage has recently escaped from prison. Venom sees Spider-Man battling Carnage on TV, and quickly joins the fight, and red/blue/black combat takes up the next six pages, leaving us only two pages to wrap things up.
Finally, Venom lures Carnage into a fuel depot, and starts a fire which encircles both symbiotes. Spider-Man "only has time to save one", so he goes for "the lesser of two evils" (the title of this story) and saves Venom. Is there a moral there? Not really.
But at least the world is finally free of Carnage? No, not really.
Carnage hasn't died at all. He escaped from the fire.
So what was the point of all that? Answer, nothing at all.
This story was kind of like the middle round of a WWF fight... utterly contrived, and without resolution or enlightenment.
Everything here is pointless to the point of tragedy. Even Carnage has been toned down, he doesn't kill a single person in his rampage. The security guards at the prison are "mauled". The police attended the fight are merely wounded. So why pick Carnage as your guest star if you can't actually let him be Carnage?
Venom goes free. Carnage escapes. The entire piece is an exercise in futility.
Look, pre-teen fan boys! Carnage! Venom! Isn't that cool! Look, they're fighting! How cool! Carnage is defeated, whew! But ooooh... he's still alive! Isn't that spooky! And cool!
I hate this stuff.
One and a half webs.