Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #64

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Sep 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...

"Birth of the Man-Spider!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #64
Aug 2000 : SM Title
Summary: 30-Aug-2000
Writer:  Alan Cowsill
Writer/Editor:  Jason Quinn
Artist:  John Ross
Lettering:  Julia Illingworth
Colorist:  Alan Craddock
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Review

Oh Noes! Spider-Man has been magicked into becoming a "Man-Spider", just as you see on the cover. An extra four freaky insect-arms, plus a hairy body and googly spider-eyes.

How could such a thing have happened? Well, after our gratuitous splash page, we jump back a few moments to... hang on! A few moments? What? We wasted an entire page just so that we could have a sixty-second flashback? Sheesh. I knew today's generation of kids had short attention spans, but this is ridiculous.

Fine, whatever. I'll play your silly game. We flash back one minute to see some green-clothed guy without a hood chasing some other green-clothed guy with a hood down an alleyway. We soon learn that the guy without the hood covering his face is a magician drawing on the powers of Dormammu , while the guy with the hood is revealed to be a bug-eyed alien/monster.

A passing Spider-Man swings to the defense of the alien/monster guy, and is promptly magic-transformed by the magician guy into a drooling servile Man-Spider. He is then sent off to kill Dr. Strange.

Strange? Who mentioned Doctor Strange? I didn't. Did you? Oh, wait. The unidentified magician guy did.

Oh, the Magician also says "So much for being the chosen one." Who mentioned the chosen one? Nobody. Well, maybe the bug-beast did. But we don't speak his language. So he could have said anything.

Spider-Man races off to kill the Doc. However, Strange is well-prepared for this kind of thing. He allows Spidey to enter his Sanctum Sanctorum. Then he uses magic to cause the return of Spider-Man's intellect. But not his body. Our hero is now a human trapped in a monster's frame.

Doctor Strange says that in order to restore Spidey's body, they must first recapture the orb.

What orb? Who mentioned an orb? Oh, right. Doctor Strange did. But that's odd, because Spider-Man didn't tell him that the magician guy was carrying a magical orb. Still, continuity isn't a big factor in these magazines. If you go around expecting attention to detail, you're just going to end up disappointed. I can guarantee that. So set your hopes low, and then you'll only be a little bit disappointed, instead of a lot.

Doctor Strange uses the "Seven rings of Raggadorr" to travel to the realm of Baron Mordo, in order to retrieve the orb. This is a now a three way continuity glitch since (a) Spidey didn't tell Strange who the magician was, (b) Spidey didn't mention that he had an orb, and (c) what's the point of visiting Dimension Mordo (tm), since Mordo is actually on Earth with the orb... just two blocks away. You're in the wrong damn astral plane, Strange!

But of course, common sense means nothing. Strange and Spidey go to Mordo's home dimension and... oh, hey, Mordo is there! With the orb! Gee... how convenient. There's also a bunch of bug-faced alien/monster guys there too. But instead of attacking the Man-Spider, they worship him as a god.

Strange tells Spidey to grab the orb. Which he does. Hey, that was easy. That turns him back from Man-Spider to Spider-Man. But even without the orb, Mordo is still more powerful that Doctor Strange. Fortunately, Spider-Man is the "chosen one", so he can use the power of the orb to overcome Mordo. Mordo is transformed to a Spider-Beast and teleported to another dimension.

Victory for the good guys.

In General...

Chosen One? What, Spider-Man is a magician now?

In any case, any sort of comprehensible story that might have been assembled from the various words and images in this story is completely undermined by the complete lack of attention to detail. Perhaps with a rewrite of the script, this story might be reworked into something that made sense. But as it stands, it's just an embarrassing example of why amateur writers should not be permitted to write for major characters like Spider-Man.

Overall Rating...

What a fiasco. One web.

Footnote...

Even the story title is nonsensical. "Birth of the Man-Spider!" Where was the birth? The Man-Spider was the result of an instantaneous magical transformation. No birthing was involved at any stage.