Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #61

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Aug 2011.

Background...

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.

In Detail...

"Project Proteus!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #61
Jun 2000 : SM Title
Summary: 7-Jun-2000
Writer:  Alan Cowsill
Writer/Editor:  Jason Quinn
Artist:  John Ross
Lettering:  Julia Illingworth
Colorist:  Alan Craddock
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Review

This title has just launched its first attempt at continuity, and for at least the last couple of issues, Peter Parker and Jameson have been on their way to Scotland. Last issue, they were waylaid in Blackpool. This story now opens in Edinburgh, in the laboratory of Moira MacTaggart, world mutant expert, and jailer of the force known as "Proteus"... who is actually her teenage son, a psychotic mutant with reality-shaping powers.

Apparently, Peter and Jonah have traipsed across the Atlantic to see this "amazing conference". It's immediately clear to me that writer Alan Cowsill doesn't really know what a "scientific conference" involves. The supposed "conference" consists of Peter and a couple of others visiting Moira's laboratory and seeing a sparkly glowing force contained in an energy cell. More like a "visit" really.

The sparkly stuff is very pretty. But it's hard to see why the Publisher of a newspaper would consider it worthwhile to make the trip. Especially since Peter isn't even shown as taking any photos. Oh wait, JJJ just ran into a Mr. J. Jamie McJameson, a kilt-wearing doppelganger of his good self. Is that an accidental meeting? It isn't made clear. Nor is it clear what McJameson is doing in Moira's lab.

Anyhow, we have a dangerous mutant, and Peter Parker has been on the premises for at least five minutes. Time for a super-villain to arrive and cause havoc. And here he is right now. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce... the Green Goblin!

The Goblin announces his intention to free Proteus and use him to conquer the world. Peter Parker disappears and re-appears seconds later as Spider-Man. You can rest assured that Jonah will never notice this exceptional coincidence that two issues in a row, whilst miles away from New York, Peter has disappeared to suddenly be replaced by a man exactly Peter's size, wearing a Spider-Man costume.

The Green Goblin frees Proteus, but before the mutant can start destroying reality, the Goblin uses his custom-built "power gauntlets" to absorb Proteus's power and use it to his own ends. Heading on a rampage, the Green Goblin uses his borrowed powers and easily overwhelms the Scottish army (who arrive within a minute or two). So what is Spider-Man to do?

Spider-Man: "There must be something we can do. He must have some weakness..."

Moira: "Just one - silver. But I don't see..."

Spider-Man: "If we can get hold of some, I might have a plan..."

Meanwhile, the Green Goblin has just beaten up the Hulk. I have no damn idea what the Hulk was doing in Edinburgh right there. It just doesn't pay to ask, sometimes. Anyhow, that's about when Spider-Man returns to the fight with some silver webbing.

So... let me get this right. In a couple of minutes flat, Moira located some silver, melted it down, and Spider-Man depressurized his web cartridges, mixed them with silver, and re-pressurized them. That's pretty impressive stuff there, web-head! Still, he's a scientist. That's science stuff right there that he did. No reason why it shouldn't take more than a few seconds, right?

Spider-Man webs the Proteus-Goblin with silver webbing, but it doesn't hold for long. The Goblin breaks free and charges at Moira and Spider-Man. Just at that moment, Proteus breaks free of the Goblin's control, separates from the Goblin, grows to giant size and yells "Leave my mother alone!"

Proteus then teleports the Goblin off to another dimension, discharging all his power in the process, and also reverting to human child form. His power is gone for good. Strangely, his mother keeps calling him "Proteus", his super-villain moniker. Not once in this story did she ever refer to her child by his given name. Way to go, mom!

In General...

Apart from the unbelievable bits, the cliched bits, and the bits that took a powerful, classic X-Men story and piddled disrespect all over it, this wasn't too bad. Hmm... actually, that was most of it.

Overall Rating...

It can't be an easy job. The writer's remit is presumably to take a classic four-issue story arc, and to crunch it down to eleven pages while also making it suitable for a younger audience.

Is it possible to find any sort of credible success under such circumstances? Certainly, this issue would suggest that it is not. But I don't think that's going to stop them from trying.

One and a half webs.

Footnote...

Note: Edinburgh. Not "an island off the coast of Scotland".