Comics : Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #25

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Peter and Mary Jane had to decide whether or not it was acceptable to compromise her morals to further her career by appearing nude in an Arnold Schwartzenheimer movie. This occurred in Spider-Man #18. She soon decided that it wasn't worth it.

In Detail...

"Why Me?"
Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #25
Aug 1992 : SM Title
Summary: Excalibur, Spider-Phoenix
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  Terry Kavanagh
Pencils:  Chris Marrinan
Inker:  Mark Stegbauer
Cover Art:  Mark Bagley
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Articles: Arcade, Jameson, J. Jonah, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

Yesterday: Peter arrives at the Daily Bugle and delivers some pre-publicity photos from Arnold Schwartzenheimer's new film. Robbie is grateful for the scoop and gives him a bonus.

At this point, Jonah storms in with a broken half of Captain Britain's original power staff. He's in a particularly foul mood having his mail room "lowered" by accepting correspondence between vigilantes. Peter gets a look at the attached note, requesting Spider-Man's assistance – in London. Peter reluctantly uses his bonus money to pay for the next flight to England.

Today: Taking a cue from the "Sherlock" comment in the note, Spider-Man makes his way – in the rain – to Baker Street, the home of the fictional detective. As he perches on a stone gargoyle overlooking the road, it is brought to life and attacks him. During their battle, he shatters the advanced robot and is exposed to a powerful knockout gas. He is then dropped into a smokestack which hides a series of transparent plastic tubes that direct his fall toward the ground, where Paris and the Juggernaut await him. Understandably confused, he is attacked by the Juggernaut who has mysteriously gained the ability to fly.

After defeating Juggernaut, Spider-Man encounters Excalibur, the British team of X-Men, that work with Captain Britain. Their roster is comprised of Nightcrawler, Phoenix II, Meggan, Kylun, and Cerise. They attack him as well. At this point Captain Britain appears – in the same spot where Spider-Man left the Juggernaut. The perspective shift and we are privy to the inner thoughts of Cap. He too is confused by the sudden appearance of his teammates who are now trying to capture Juggernaut, who is climbing the Eiffel Tower. It quickly becomes obvious to both heroes that someone or something is causing them to see each other as the Juggernaut. However they cannot convince the rest of Excalibur of that fact.

At this point Nightmare and D'Spayre appear, claiming to be responsible for this mass confusion. Phoenix, who has recently encountered them (Excalibur V1 #29 & #35) attacks D'Spayre direct and is batted aside. Britain and Spider-Man split up: Spider-Man to save the unconscious Phoenix and Britain to attack D'Spayre He too is cast aside. For his part, Nightmare has molded the steel in the Eiffel Tower into a makeshift prison for the other members of Excalibur.

Spider-Man tries in vain to save Phoenix until he makes a startling discovery. Captain Britain regains his bearings and flies in to attack Nightmare, but D'Spayre causes the remnants of the tower to collapse on the team. Overcome with grief, Cap directs his attention to D'Spayre.

At this point Spider-Man appears in mid-air, wielding the power of the phoenix and destroys Nightmare and D'Spayre with a power blast. In reality they are large, highly advanced robots. Once the energy has been dissipated, he begins to fall toward the ground. Cap catches him and explains that he realized Phoenix was an android and gambled that they were as well.

While they're swapping information about how they arrives, a large cast of Spider-Man's enemies appear. The roll call includes: Silvermane, Tarantula II, Dr. Octopus, Vermin, Vulture, Scorpion, Lizard, and the Green Goblin. Working together they eventually defeat the androids. They soon realize that this is part of an advanced virtual reality simulation based on the instantaneous and improbable appearances.

They eventually trace this back to Arcade, who is serving time in Darkmoor prison. He bartered with an opportunistic Shi'ar soldier during "Operation: Galactic Storm" for some advanced technology that he incorporated into a new version of his Murderworld. He needed to test it out and apparently selected Spider-Man and Captain Britain and random.

They recruit the real Meggan (who's a shapeshifter) to take the place of his Shi'ar contact and trick him into confessing that he bribed the warden to allow him to run his schemes from inside the prison.

In General...

This is one of those comics where you're actually thankful when you finish reading it. Even though it was ultimately revealed that this was all Shi'ar technology, this was an implausible story that failed to generate any real interest.

In this particular case, the continuity actually slows down the story. Unfamiliar as I am with Excalibur (very) some of the reference points made the story difficult to follow. The Phoenix v. Nightmare/D'Spayre storyline is hinted at, but without any kind of explanation, readers are left to wonder what exactly happened between those characters. It might have been interesting to go into that more, but without a brief recap, that will probably not happen.

Overall Rating...

0.5 webs. This was a completely random story that should have never been made. It was boring from beginning to end.

Footnote...

Operation: Galactic Storm is an Avengers crossover in which they full team must stop a war between the Kree and the Shi'ar. There is an informative article about this crossover at Wikipedia.