Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #71

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Jan 2012.

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...

"The Terrible Toymaker!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #71
Jun 2001 : SM Title
Summary: 6-Jun-2001
Editor:  Alan O'Keefe
Writer:  Jason Quinn
Artist:  Neil Edwards
Lettering:  Julia Illingworth
Colorist:  Maria Keane
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Review

In the 90's there were quite a few animated movies about toys that come to life, or robots that develop human personalities. This UK magazine title was always happy to run with a well-worn idea, and so it is that Spider-Man finds himself knee-deep in killer toys!

But even killer toys won't fill a whole 11 pages, so the first three pages are burned up with Spider-Man fighting muggers in New York. Two minutes, two streets, and two rescues later, we've chewed up those pages and we can kick off the main event as a crowd runs past Spidey, yelling "Run for your life! They're everywhere!"

And "They" are a couple of dozen flying, animated toys with faces, claws and mouths... some of which breathe fire.

Also present is the man behind it all... the "Toy Maker". He demands $100,000,000 from "New York" within an hour, or he will turn this city into a "Toy Town of Death".

Jonah Jameson is also present, standing on the pavement. Because... as we know, New York is a very small city and everybody lives and works within one city block. The police are here too, because they have a sixty-second response time for all toy-related incidents.

JJJ blames Spider-Man for the toys. And despite the fact that everybody has just watched one of the toys burn the web-head half to death, the cops immediately decide to arrest Spider-Man. Because... that's the stupid mistake that every policeman has made in the last thousand comics, so it's just the same mistake that has to be made this time too.

Spidey decides to "prove his innocence" by attacking the Toy Maker. So... otherwise he wouldn't have gotten involved? Is that what he's saying? However, a full-blown double-footed Spidey-kick to the chest doesn't even make the Toy Maker have trouble breathing. Either (a) the Toy Maker has super powers, or (b) Spidey is pathetic, or (c) the story is badly written. I'm going with (c) at this stage.

The toys attack Spider-Man en masse, rendering Spider-Man unconscious. The Toy Maker then repeats his demand for $100 million within the hour, before departing leaving our hero to recover. The policemen watch him leave. Because... I dunno. While they're prepared to arrest Spider-Man, clearly they're not keen to tackle a criminal madman.

Spider-Man picks himself up off the ground, and the police explain that the Toy Maker is "Desmond Carrett. He's a frustrated toy maker. When the leading toy shops refused to stock his monster toys he tried to blackmail them. Now he's turned to force. The man's a loon!"

That's some pretty efficient policing there. Not bad for a few minutes research by a beat cop. Ain't Google great these days?

Spider-Man then swings to the top of a tall building where he finds the Toy Maker. No explanation is given of how he found the Toy Maker, since the demands never specified any details about how to pay the money. Maybe the details were on his website, www.psychokillertoymaker.com and Spidey just Googled him.

Whatever, Spidey swings up and gives the Toy Maker a full-blast haymaker punch which connects firmly with his chin. That punch has been seen to smash in steel doors. But it doesn't even give the Toy Maker a cut lip, because the plot has long-since abandoned any effort at consistency.

Instead, the Toy Maker orders the toys once again to kill Spider-Man, and they dutifully chase him all over the city until they manage to corner our hero atop the Statue of Liberty.

Question for you to ponder. How did Spider-Man swing from Manhattan city across to Liberty Island, while being pursued by flying toys? It's roughly a mile and a half of open water in case you didn't know. Perhaps I ask too much. Perhaps we should just top trying to look for any connection between these sequences, and just enjoy the mediocre artwork and the insipid dialogue.

Fortunately for Spider-Man, for New York, and for us too, the batteries on the toys run flat at this point.

Spider-Man swings back (again, not explained) from Liberty Island to the mainland to meet the Toy Maker on the building rooftop once more. The Toy Maker declares "You'll never take me alive!" and throws himself off the roof, but a quick-thinking Spidey webs him by the trousers and saves him before he goes *splat*.

"Good work, Spider-Man" says the policeman who leads the villain away.

In General...

So a Toy Maker has created independent silent flying autonomous fire-breathing weapons systems, and can't find a buyer? Seriously? Didn't he try calling 1-800-US MILITARY?

According to a recent article in Reuters, it takes over 200 full-time support staff to keep a drone spy plane flying for 24 hours. And this Toy Maker guy is independently controlling twenty by himself? Honestly, the U.S. Military would pay $100 million dollars a month to get their hands on that kind of technology. Plus a daily back rub from a five star general.

Overall Rating...

Look, I know these stories are supposed to be "fun". But is it too much to ask the writers to sit down for a few minutes and just patch up a few of the gaping plot holes before they start scripting? Just the biggest ones? Please?

One web.