Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #77
This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History
This review was first published on: Feb 2012.
Welcome to our "British History" lecture series. Our goal is to shed some light onto the murky history of one of Spidey's lesser known current titles... the alternate universe UK-only series Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine).
This UK magazine series started in 1995 running "reprints plus filler". Then in 1999 the formula changed to feature 11 pages of original story content written by UK creators. The title ran nearly exclusively original stories in that new format until 2011, when it reverted to a reprint series after Disney acquired Marvel and pulled the plug on UK-created content.
At Spider-Fan, we reviewed many of those original stories as they came out, until we lost our UK supply chain. Now, thanks to the joint miracles of eBay UK and international shipping, we're planning to track down and review all those other stories that slipped through the cracks the first time around.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #77
May 2002 : SM Title
Our story opens with Peter Parker dreaming about fighting super-villain "The Vulture". Then he wakes to a phone call from Jonah Jameson telling him to get to the prison, as the Vulture is being released today.
The Vulture's early departure from prison is because he is old and near death. But the police don't realise that while in jail, Adrian Toomes (aka The Vulture) has secretly constructed a power glove that can steal life force and youth from people and grant it to the glove's wearer.
Man, that's a pretty impressive laboratory they must have in those prisons. Let's see... a guy is arrested for crimes committed while wearing a high-tech device he built himself. So, I guess it's only reasonable to give him a super high-tech laboratory while he's serving his sentence. We wouldn't want him getting bored or anything.
Toomes goes on a rampage, stealing life from people, then restored to youth, committing crimes as a rejuvenated Vulture.
Peter has a test at college, falls asleep because... he's tired.
Spider-Man spends a night unsuccessfully searching for the Vulture.
Aunt May's boyfriend "Michael Angel" (who is secretly the aged former super-hero "The Angel" and who is aware of Peter's secret identity) wants to become Spider-Man's crime-fighting partner.
Peter Parker has another test at college. But this time, the Vulture crashes the university looking for more young victims. His "youth" turned out to be temporary.
Peter becomes Spider-Man, and fights the Vulture.
The Vulture steals Spider-Man's life force.
By complete coincidence, The Angel suddenly appears on top of the tall building over which Spider-Man and the Vulture are fighting. The Angel joins the fight and saves our web-headed hero, temporarily. But it's not enough. The Vulture has Spider-Man at his mercy. Or... does he? No, in a rapid reversal, a prematurely aged Spider-Man manages to use his webs to grab the glove back, and sock the Vulture on the jaw.
Spider-Man then uses the glove to take back his youth, leaving the Vulture old once more.
Peter then visits the Angel where he is recovering in hospital, and offers him the chance to use the glove to steal some youth in order to become Spider-Man's full-time hero buddy. But the Angel declines, which is what Peter had hoped he would say. Peter destroys the glove. The Angel then announces his retirement.
I have two complaints about this story. Firstly, the youth granted by the glove appears to be temporary, which greatly reduces any impact the story might have had. In fact, it totally undermines the final scene. Peter's offer of youth to Mr. Angel is effectively an offer of youth for a day or two, which is pretty pointless.
Secondly, this "Peter is falling asleep all the time" sub-plot just... doesn't go anywhere. There's no punchline, or resolution, or anything.
Maybe I would add one more complaint. There's a mix-up in the lettering and one of Spider-Man's speech balloons is duplicated from a later page. It's a major boo-boo which completely confuses the story, and is pretty careless in a "professional" comic book. Haven't they ever heard of proof-reading?
Sloppy and confusing.