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. This is Spidey's primary UK non-reprint magazine. He also appears in the pre-school Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine), along with occasional guest appearances in Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine).
The Spider-Man story occupies eleven or twelve pages of this 32 page publication, and is aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. The plots for these stories feature classic Marvel characters and villains. While they often echo plots from the mainstream comics, they do so in their own special style.
After a few years of erratic quality at best, this title is finally producing some half-decent material. Too bad that Disney (the new owner of Marvel) has announced its intention to pull the plug on all non-U.S. original stories.
Very soon, this will become a reprint-only title. This is the first instalment in the three-issue arc which concludes the original material.
We hit the ground running, with Peter at the Daily Bugle learning that Wilson Fisk (recently released from prison on a technicality) has just announced his takeover of Oscorp.
Peter then heads over to Harry Osborn's apartment, so that we can re-establish his role in the scheme of things. Peter then changes to Spider-Man and heads over to Norman Osborn's town-house. He tracks Norman as he heads over to Oscorp, down a manhole, and into a secret Goblin Lair. Really, Norman should learn to lock the door after himself.
Norman (having previously forgotten his evil alter-ego) is clearly driven mad by the stress of losing his corporate ownership, and has just recalled his Green Goblin identity. As yet, Normy doesn't seem to recall that Peter is Spider-Man, but that can't be far off.
Norman grabs a bag full of goblin gear (including a glider) and sprints out, leaving Spider-Man to eat pumpkin bomb. Our hero recovers shortly afterwards as Kingpin and his new "head of security" Scorpion enter the scene. Scorpion and Spider-Man fight for five pages, then a victorious Spider-Man is forced to depart as Kingpin (who is, you recall, now the rightful owner of the aforementioned Oscorp facility) calls the police!
There's something very determined about this story. The first half of the script (at least) is relentless in the way it advances the plot. The roles of all the major players are mapped out in clinical fashion, and in strict tempo.
The second half of the tale is more free-form, with the extended Scorpion/Spidey fight scene bloating out a little more and allowing penciller John Royle and the rest of the UK art team to show what they've learned over the previous issues.
I still struggle to develop any real affection for this version of the Spider-Man universe. I guess I just can't get over the way it is forced by circumstances to borrow nearly all its ideas from an upstream source. No matter how you look at it, an UK rewritten spin-off Spider-verse is always going to be a poor relation to the main continuity.
But while I can't emotionally appreciate this title, I guess I have to acknowledge the increasing professionalism that Spectacular Spider-Man is beginning to develop. It still doesn't have a lot of "Wow!" factor, but at least there's not as much "D'oh!" factor.
Let's give this story a workman-like three webs.