This long-running UK Magazine started out by running reprints, but these days it offers a brand new "out of continuity" Spider-Man story every three weekly issue.
The Spider-Man story occupies eleven or twelve pages of the 32 page magazine, and are aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. The plots for these stories feature classic Marvel characters and villains, and often echo plots from the mainstream comics, but in their own special style.
The remaining pages of each issue are filled with puzzles, posters and factoids centered around the issues guest star(s), be they heroes or villains. This issue's story is "Time Quest (Part 3): Symbiote Saga!" Five super-villains intended to travel back in time to defeat Spider-Man, but instead have become isolated and stranded in random periods of the past (and perhaps the future).
The Fantastic Four is still trapped in the Negative Zone, but Spider-Man has been busy attempting to recapture the various villains before they destroy history as they know it. The potential consequences are devastating. Once careless action, and the eight years of the Bush Presidency might be wiped from the pages of posterity!
The Vulture has already been recovered from New York of the Late Pleistocene era, as described last issue. Now Spider-Man and H.E.R.B.I.E. (Reed Richards' all-purpose robot assistant) must retrieve Venom from the Dark Ages.
|Inker:||Ian Sharman, Kris Justice|
There's just one little problem with the setting of this story. The Dark Ages weren't that interesting on the East Coast of what was to become North America. But that doesn't deter writer Ferg Handley, as Spider-Man emerges from the time platform to encounter... a wandering pack of Viking warriors!
Yep, we're reliably informed that the Vikings "established colonies as far away as Russia and Greenland" and "according to recent theories possibly made failed attempts to settle on America's eastern seaboard." Seems that Spider-Man just happened to have run into a war party exploring inland from one of those failed colonies. What luck!
Suddenly, Spidey's Spider-Sense kicks in as a rabbit runs past. A rabbit, pursued by Venom. Though as it turns out, Venom doesn't present too much of a challenge. One zap of the handy-dandy sonic disruptor Spidey has with him is enough to put Brock out of commission.
The next question is, what to do about all the crazy Vikings who immediately start tooting their war-horns. Well, it seems the one thing NOT to do is to claim (via the Fantastic Four's universal translator) than you happen to be on a first-name buddy-basis with Thor. Unfortunately, that's what Spidey does, and it causes him to instantly be declared a blasphemer, and to become the one-man-target of a furious Viking assault. Ooopsies!
Our favorite web-head does fairly well in the fight. That is, until the Venom Symbiote recovers enough to slither across to merge with "Olaf the Grim" (the leader of the Viking raiding party.) Viking-Venom becomes more of a handful. But no problem, Spidey can still use the ol' Sonic Disruptor, right? Ah... wrong. That just got damaged in the fight. So, it's "mano-a-mano", but Olaf is "mas macho" than Spider-Man.
Pretty soon, Spider-Man's in trouble, but that's when he gets another idea. He grabs the aforementioned war-horn from the Viking trumpet-meister, and gets H.E.R.B.I.E. to crank up his built in speaker/amplifier. The sonic combination (with a Beethoven soundtrack backing courtesy of H.E.R.B.I.E.'s music banks) is enough to seriously upset the Olaf/Symbiote combo, and cause the Symbiote to crawl back to Eddie Brock. Spider-Man then KO's Brock before he gets any bright ideas.
The Vikings are convinced that Spider-Man and Venom are powerful mages, and decide to head back to Viking-Central and abandon their American road-trip. So, history is saved!
Here's what I noted in terms of questionable logic:
There's the usual mix of outrageous co-incidences and dubious logic that go into most of these stories. I'm not usually fan of time-travel stories, and this one reinforces that prejudice pretty well.
However, there's nothing spectacularly offensive that I can really identify, so I'm going to settle for a generally uninspiring two webs.
Extra stuff this time around includes:
2 page Venom profile, 2 page puzzles, 1 page coloring, 2 page venom poster, 1 page Spidey poster, 1 page Venom/Carnage/Toxin mini-profiles, 2 more pages puzzles, 2 page promo/competition for the Spider-Man: Web of Shadows console game. Then there's 2 page fan art/letters, and a 1 page spot-the-differences puzzle. Th-th-th-th-at's all folks!
Well, that's nearly all. There's also three pages of genuine advertising mixed in there, which is a little more than I generally recall. I think I might just keep an eye on the advertising page-count and see where that goes over time.