Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #84

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Apr 2012.

Background...

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.

In Detail...

"Star Struck!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #84
Apr 2003 : SM Title
Summary: 9-Apr-2003
Managing Editor:  Alan O'Keefe
Editor:  Tom O'Malley
Writer:  Jason Quinn
Pencils:  John Haward
Inker:  Bambos Georgiou
Lettering:  Alex Foot
Colorist:  Alan Craddock
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Review

Peter is fed up with Spider-Man. Apparently, his alter ego is responsible for the failure of his relationship with Mary Jane, his poor academic results, and the death of his Uncle Ben.

The what? How the heck does that work? In what sense did Spider-Man's existence contribute to the death of Uncle Ben? Sure, Spidey failed to save Ben. But he was hardly responsible for the Burglar, was he?

Well, real or imagined, these issues are enough to have Peter throw his Spidey costume in the bin and promise to live a normal life henceforth.

Care to make a bet how long this might last?

Peter heads into the Silver Spoon coffee bar to try and catch up with Mary Jane. But MJ is out with Flash, visiting the new Movie Museum that just opened. Peter goes to the museum too, where he sees that the museum is owned and run by Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio. But... you know. Whatever. That would be a Spidey problem, and Peter isn't Spidey. So he goes home.

However, Flash and MJ don't go home that night. They are prisoners of Mysterio, who has hit them with a hallucinogenic terror gas to make them see monsters. Obviously, the best allies for any super-powered villain is a bunch of psychotic screaming teenagers. Yeah, that's a good idea. I can just see it now.

"My plans will proceed much more smoothly with a dozen freaked-out psychopaths running through the middle of them! Nobody can stop me now. Muahahaha!."

Yeah, right.

When Peter learns that MJ didn't come home, he rescues his Spidey costume from the bin, and swings back to the museum. At first, he is defeated by the drugged-up teenagers who believe that he is a monster. Again, I'm not sure how that works. Spider-Man would have no problem at all escaping from the clutches of half a dozen kids. But fill them with psychotics so that they can't see or walk straight, and they're terrified by Spider-Man.... and suddenly those same teens are much harder for Spidey to avoid? Because... how?

Incredibly, Spider-Man is overpowered by the three teens, and is then strapped to a table where Mysterio also affects Spider-Man with the same terror gas. But Spider-Man breaks free, and goes to buy a gas mask at an army surplus store which just conveniently happens to be right across the road, with a "Gas Masks" sign in the window. Then he returns and defeats Mysterio with no additional problems.

Later, Mary Jane comes running back to Peter and declares her affection.

In General...

Frankly, I have no idea what all that was about. Firstly, Peter's explanation regarding his Uncle Ben is quite incomprehensible.

Next, I must also confess that none of Mysterio's motivations make the slightest bit of sense either. What was Mysterio doing? He spent millions of dollars creating a movie museum and opening it to the public, in order to... what? Drug some teenagers? As far as I can tell, that was his only motivation.

Seriously, if you want to get your hands on some drugged teenagers, just walk along a city street on Friday night with a few tabs, while calling out "Hey dudes, who want's to try some of this for free... it's great shit, man!"

Finally... Mary Jane's motivations are equally inexplicable! Peter repeatedly stands her up, without even bothering to phone her. She dumps him twice (quite reasonably), then comes crawling back saying she misses him terribly. What kind of co-dependent role model does that set for young kids? It's dreadful to see that kind of sexist scenario!

Then again, she is a women, and they rarely make sense, right guys?

Overall Rating...

Mysterio has become a psychopath who just wants to torture people with his terror gas, while the Peter/MJ relationship sub-plot is entirely without a single redeeming feature.

The whole thing is utter drivel, even by "Kids Magazine" standards.

One and a half webs.