Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #89
This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History
This review was first published on: Jun 2012.
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.
Recent issues of this magazine have featured the first real attempt to create some sort of ongoing continuity distinct from the generic "Cartoon TV Spider-Man". Writer Jason Quinn has created a "love triangle" between Peter Parker, MJ, and Laurence "Larry" Gentry (aka the amateur teenage super-villain "The Porcupine", thanks to the super-powered suit he inherited from his father, the original Porcupine).
Last issue, while consumed with jealousy, Laurence donned his Porcupine suit and went to Peter Parker's house to commit murder. He did so, firing half a dozen deadly spikes into Peter as he lay asleep in bed.
Except it wasn't actually Peter. It was a web-dummy, placed by Peter himself in an attempt to fool his Aunt May into thinking he was asleep in bed, while he actually crept out of the window to rescue Jonah Jameson who was kidnapped by the Shocker.
However, Aunt May saw the Porcupine break into the house and "kill" Peter, giving her a terrible shock which has put her into hospital.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #89
Aug 2003 : SM Title
At the hospital, the Doctor and Mrs. Watson (MJ's Aunt) talk trash about how selfish Peter Parker is, not turning up to support his sick Aunt. Peter meanwhile is outside, clinging to the wall as Spider-Man, and eavesdropping on the conversation. Mind you, I have no idea how you eavesdrop on a conversation through a double-glassed hospital window pane. Maybe his Spider-Sense gives him the power to lip-read?
But Peter has far more urgent things on his mind. While he desperately wants to comfort his aunt, it is even more important that he track down the Porcupine to get his vengeance!
(Note that Peter doesn't know that the Porcupine is actually his college acquaintance, Larry. Nor does Larry know that Peter is Spider-Man. Peter believes that the Porcupine was attacking Spider-Man, he has no idea that Larry's attack was driven only by his non-super-powered motivation to eliminate the competition for MJ.)
So, Peter reluctantly abandons his Aunt in her moment of need, and... goes to college to hang around with his "pals" MJ and Larry.
He what? But... what about his sick Aunt? Peter is off to school, flirting with his girlfriend, while the woman who raised him lies near death in the hospital? Man, what a freaking jerk!
Larry meanwhile is torn by two "emotions". First, he is shocked to see Peter still alive, after having "killed" him the previous night. Secondly, he is stricken with guilt when he learns that Aunt May is unwell. He never meant to hurt an old lady. No. He just wanted to cold-bloodedly murder a young man as he lay sleeping, in order to improve the odds of dating a red-head.
Just as an aside: I really find it hard to be comfortable with the idea that a psychopathic killer is now part of Peter's supporting cast. Still I guess young kids dig that kind of stuff.
Sometime around evening, Peter finally decides to costume up again and head over to the hospital. But oh dear, how unlucky. Just as he swings past a darkened studio apartment, he falls into a "rip in the very fabric of reality" and is sucked into the crazy dimension that is home to the Dread Dormammu.
Yes. By complete and utter coincidence, a human magician named Sharrock decided that very moment to make a deal with Dormammu, open a portal between earth and the Dark Dimension, and trade our world to Dormammu in return for eternal life. Except Dormammu wasn't interested, and instead both Sharrock and Spider-Man find themselves lost in the Dark Dimension fighting "mindless ones"
Fortunately, Dr. Strange comes along to save the day. Whew! That was lucky!
Except that Peter is now late for the hospital, and "visiting hours are over" says the Nurse. Except that's bullshit, because Larry and MJ are still visiting Aunt May (who is feeling much better). So clearly the Nurse is a liar who just wants to make people suffer.
MJ wants to know why Peter is late. But... he can't tell her the truth. So now MJ is angry, and decides to go out to coffee with Larry. You remember Larry. He's the murderer who is now friends with everybody.
Larry the schizophrenic psychopath is the new guest star?
I KILL YOU! I KILL YOU! OH, THE POOR OLD LADY.
Then Peter goes to college instead of visiting Aunt May? Not to mention nurses who lie to visitors, plate-glass windows you can hear conversations through, and random wizards who create dimension-spanning portals just to provide a sixty-minute delay as a plot device.
Seriously, I find Larry's sudden attack of guilt in regards to May Parker to be utterly preposterous. In fact, I feel downright insulted by the idea that the writers would even imagine that I could accept the motivations of either Larry or Peter... or any of the events of the past few issues, really.
Could it get any worse? Oh, you just never know!