Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #69

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Oct 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.

I'm currently running catch-up reviews for all the back issues I've managed to find in the past twelve months, in our Lookback section... "British History".

In Detail...

"Planet of the Vampires"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #69
Feb 2001 : SM Title
Summary: 14-Feb-2001
Editor In Chief:  Alan O'Keefe
Editor:  Scott Gray
Writer:  Alan Cowsill
Artist:  John Ross
Lettering:  Caroline Dunk, Julia Illingworth
Colorist:  Maria Keane
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Spider-Man is swinging around town looking for trouble, when he finds it... in the form of Vampires!

Morbius arrives to help fight the vampires. The vampires refuse to attack Morbius (who they call "The Creator!") and insted escape through a time warp (it's just a step to the left). Morbius then asks for Spidey's help curing his semi-vampire state. Hang on. Time-travelling vampires?

Then a future version of Mary Jane appears to stop Morbius and Spider-Man from seeking a cure, since it subsequently leads to a vampire virus that infects New York. Future-MJ is really old! She's like, from 20 years in the future. That would make her... nearly 40! No wonder she is drawn with a hag's face, and grey streaks in her hair. Forty years old? YUCK! Go away old lady!

Spider-Man and Moribus travel through time (using time-warp wrist-bands, naturally) with future-MJ to future-New York, but then discover that future-MJ lied, and she is a vampire who is in league with future-Morbius in a plan to use now-Spidey and now-Morbius to re-create the virus in order to infect the whole world this time, not just New York!

Future-Morbius attacks (aided by Future-Green-Goblin) but Future-Spider-Man is there to help out. Future Spider-Man has a computer disk that if attached to Morbius's machine will actually REVERSE the Vampire plague. Future-Spidey is "too weak" to complete the plan, but current Spidey uses the disk and saves the day, aided by Future-MJ who turns to still be a vampire, but a vampire who is helping the non-vampires.

Everybody is saved, and reverts to human form. Current-Spider-Man and Current-Morbius return to the past. I mean, the present.

In General...

Well, as you can tell, this is a bit of a confusing story! Future and past versions, MJ swapping sides. Battles in two different time zones. Six major protagonists - two Spideys, two Morbiuses (or is that Morbiaii?) plus MJ, the Goblin, and lots of vampires. All this packed into eleven pages.

Strangely enough, the story works pretty well. Yes it's complex, but there's no major flaws in the plot. I'm tempted to complain that really this is too much plot for the page count, but with a bit of squishing it all seems to fit.

My only two objections would be... firstly as "person of later years" myself, it's kind of offensive how anybody over 35 years old seems to be drawn as wrinkly and grey-haired. And secondly, Spider-Man and Morbius have just been given time-travelling wrist-bands. Are we ever going to see any consequences of that? No, probably not.

Overall Rating...

Nowhere near as bad as it could have been!

Let's give this one three webs for a full-featured story with no major glitches.