Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #62

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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...

"The Leveller"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #62
Jul 2000 : SM Title
Summary: 5-Jul-2000
Writer:  Alan Cowsill
Writer/Editor:  Jason Quinn
Artist:  Anthony Williams
Lettering:  Julia Illingworth
Colorist:  Maria Keane
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Peter Parker and Jonah Jameson are in Russia, attending a military parade to celebrate "The Leveller", a super-missile with the power to "destroy cities but leave no radiation behind". But Peter Parker isn't taking photos, he has spotted Kraven the Hunter and has run off to fight him.

Oh for the love of all that is holy... can you really not think of ANY BETTER WAY to set a Spidey story in Russia without sending Peter Parker to take photos. Can nobody in Russia operate a damned camera, that the Daily Bugle has to spend thousands of dollars in air flights? Did you know you can send photos through the Interweb these days?

And what the hell is Jonah doing on site? He's not even a reporter. He's the Publisher and Editor. He's a Publisher and Editor who spends no damn time publishing. Or editing. And Peter is his hot-shot photographer who every damn time he is flown across the world to take photos somehow manages to run away at the crucial moment and not take any photos.

And how stupid do Jonah have to be to not figure out that Peter is Spider-Man? This is the third issue straight where Jonah has been in a foreign country with not another damn American in sight, when Peter has suddenly disappeared and Spider-Man has instantly re-appeared. In England. In Scotland. Now in Russia. THREE ISSUES IN A ROW!

Oh, I'm just angry now. I don't care about the stupid story any more. But just in case you still care (which you probably shouldn't because of how stupid it is), here it goes. Spider-Man fights Kraven. But Kraven is just trying to save Russia, his home country. Why? Because "the Gremlin" has just used his mega-robots to steal the Leveller Missile and his super-giant-jet to take the Leveller Missile back to his super-secret-high-tech base.

Spider-Man and Kraven are captured. Spider-Man is chained to the missile, which is launched from Russia to America. This must be a special missile, since normal missiles can't reach that far. Not to mention that it's a long flight. Twenty hours or so, by my guess. With no in flight movie. And no pressurized cabin either. And six-hundred mile-an-hour winds ripping your clothes off. But these things don't bother Spider-Man.

Kraven (trapped in the Gremlin's base) recovers, escapes, and forces the missile control crew to cancel the mission. But they can't. Apparently they didn't put any remote controls on the missile. Oh wait. No, they put one set of remote controls on the missile. The put radio controls so they could release the chains that held Spider-Man. What remarkable fore-thought!

YOU ARE KIDDING ME? They chained Spider-Man to the missile, then carefully added a mechanism to allow remote control to release the chains? And yet they didn't add anything to actually control the freaking missile?

Spider-Man's chains are duly released by the aforementioned remote control. And instead of being whipped away by the six-hundred mile-an-hour wind stream that is flowing past him, being frozen by the sub-zero temperatures, or unconscious from the lack of oxygen, the web-head simply guesses where the control panel is, smashes a hole in the side, and then pulls out the wires. And we all know what happens when we pull the wires out of the computers that guide rockets. That's right, children. It makes the rocket turn around and fly back to the site it launched from.

Really? Did you ever hear of a rocket called "The Challenger"? It lost a few lousy heat tiles, and promptly exploded. But rip open the side of a missile and tear out random wires and it just turns around and heads back to where it came from, like a homing pigeon with a serious lack of commitment. And indeed. The rocket turns around, flies back to base, then crashes and explodes on the spot it recently launched from. Spider-Man swings free just before it hits the ground.

That's right. The rocket that destroys cities. The rocket that was the Russian armies greatest new weapon? It explodes, with the Gremlin, Spider-Man and Kraven all within a hundred foot radius. And how much damage do you think it does? Do you think Spider-Man's or Kraven are hurt? Do you think their costumes are ripped by a ground-zero blast from the world's most terrifying missile? Do you think they are slightly deafened? Do you think they even fall over?

No they do not.

Spider-Man then walks back through the snow, complaining about his cold costume, and how clever Kraven is to have fur on his jacket. Yeah. Kraven's fur-trimmed jacket with bare arms. And an open chest.

In General...

So, Spider-Man is going to stumble back and explain to Jonah where the hell he went to, and why after being dragged half way around the world to watch a parade, he failed to take any photos when the world's most powerful rocket was stolen right in front of his ruddy nose.

And can somebody please explain Kravinoff's desperate effort to save "his home-land"... from a rocket that was aimed at America.

And what about the Gremlin, who can create massive robots and flying ships, yet who feels the urge to steal a rocket that makes an explosion less powerful than a V2 rocket from back in World War II?

And... OH FORGET IT! I GIVE UP.

Overall Rating...

Anybody clever enough to have attained a sufficient level of literacy to read this story is already two times smarter than the cut-off for being intellectually offended by it.

I grant it a rock bottom rating of one half a web.