Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #60
This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History
This review was first published on: Aug 2011.
This long-running three-weekly UK Magazine started out by running reprints for 51 issues. But starting with issue #52, it launched a string of original out-of-continuity Spider-Man stories created in the UK which was to last for more than a decade, until Disney pulled the plug in 2011.
The stories changed their tone throughout that time. The early original stories followed in the style of the preceding reprints, which is to say, similar to Spider-Man Adventures, or the Spider-Man TV (1994) television series. Much later, the stories shifted sideways to become more like a watered-down imitation of Ultimate Spider-Man.
In any case, the original Spider-Man stories occupied eleven or twelve pages of this 32 page publication, which was aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. The plots for these stories featured classic Marvel characters and villains. While they often echoed plots from the mainstream comics, they did so in their own special style. The remainder of the content was filled with puzzles, coloring, posters (reprinted art), fan letters, and promotions for DVDs and computer games.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #60
May 2000 : SM Title
Peter Parker and Jonah Jameson are at Blackpool beach, in England. Apparently they have "stopped over on their way to Edinburgh". Don't even ask me to make sense of that decision. To get from New York to Edinburgh, you simply change planes at Heathrow. You don't get in your car and drive the length of the UK (on the wrong side of the road no less).
But there they both are, enjoying the entertainments that Britain's answer to Coney Island has to offer. And that's when the Frightful Four turn up. Sandman, Wizard, Trapster, and Medusa.
Medusa's presence is an unusual addition, since the Queen of the Inhumans is supposedly one of the good guys. But it is sort of explained like this. While Spider-Man is dealing with the Frightful Four, Medusa steals an "amulet" from one of the bystanders. She then runs away with it, pursued by Spider-Man. Medusa explains to Spider-Man that the amulet is subject to "Terrigan's Curse" and that she has stolen it to protect people.
As Medusa attempts to explain further, Spider-Man knocks the amulet from her hand, where it is caught by the Trapster, who immediately turns into a monkey. The monkey then grows larger and larger, rapidly attaining King Kong dimensions.
As the ape terrorizes the would-be carnival-goers, Medusa finishes her story, relating how the amulet was created by Terrigan, the founder of the Inhumans. The amulet has the power to turn humans into something greater. However, the amulet (or amulets, the text is ambiguous) caused only war. The greatest battle took place here, in the location named "The Pool of Blackness".
This amulet was recently rediscovered (no further details are given). The Trapster has now fallen victim to the effect, which varies, but in this case sees him transformed into a rapidly-growing ape.
The ape then climbs Blackpool Tower, in King Kong fashion. To further sink home the point, Jonah Jameson buzzes past, flying in the back seat of a biplane. Apparently at Blackpool you can pay for rides in such planes. To complete the motif, the ape-Trapster grabs the lady, and Medusa does her best Fay Wray impersonation.
Naturally, Spider-Man saves the day. He tackles the ape, grabs the amulet, and knocks out Wizard and Sandman in the process.
So, Medusa decided to take back the amulet. And she figured three hardened criminals and a flying car would make that an easier thing to achieve? Really?
This woman is the Queen of the Inhumans for goodness sake. She lives in a nation populated by super-beings who are devoted to serving her every wish. And yet she sets off on this mission accompanied by three psychotic criminals. Not to mention that her plan was "grab the amulet from a human". How much assistance did she thing she was going to need with that?
And how come the guy who originally acquired it didn't transform into something else? In fact, how did Medusa (off in Inhuman-land) even find out about the amulet?
And how come the English people decided to adopt the Inhuman name for the town?
Look, I can see the thought-process here. The writer clearly had the idea of a story in which King Kong climbed Blackpool Tower, with biplanes and an unconscious female. The rest of the story is then a clumsily contrived series of unlikely events with the single goal of implementing the desired outcome.
As usual, Spider-Man gets to throw in a few daft one-liners in the process. E.g. "That's enough monkey business for one day, Trapster..." and "Uh oh, look's like the ape's got a crush on Medusa." Ha Ha. Very droll. But is that enough to make a satisfying story?
Honestly? No, not really. Two webs.