Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #97

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Aug 2010.

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).

Started in 1995 as "reprints plus filler", it transmogrified itself a few years later and swapped that reprint content for 11 pages of original story content written by UK creators.

It's still running currently (in 2010). But we only started regularly reviewing from issue 100 or so (and even then we had a break for a couple of years during the #120's and #130's. 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.

For the last three issues, the various forces of Doctor Octopus, Electro and some freak known as "The Eraser" have (along with Hydra on the sidelines) harassed and harangued Spider-Man - even temporarily exposing him as Peter Parker, until Daredevil stepped into the Spidey suit to save Peter's reputation. Now it's time for Spidey to fight back and rid New York of the Ock's ongoing menace!

In Detail...

"Out of Sight!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #97
Apr 2004 : SM Title
Summary: 7-Apr-2004
Editor:  Carl Suecoff, Tom O'Malley
Script:  Jason Quinn
Pencils:  John Royle
Inker:  Bambos Georgiou
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Review

No time to linger here! We're straight into the action with Spidey bursting towards us in the splash page. Behind him, newspaper headlines support what our hero himself is worrying over.

Specifically - in the time between last issue and this one, much badness has been afoot. Eraser and Electro have been helping Doctor Octopus carry out his latest dastardly scheme. Eraser has been responsible for most of that, "erasing" New York's most influential figures. As in... scrubbing them from existence. Ouch. What a way to go!

So while Spider-Man swings over to the home of Judge Emily (considered by many to be the next eraserssassination target, though apparently not receiving any police protection despite all that), what of Laurence Gentry? Laurence who? Oh, no, we're not doing all that over again. Check out Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #97 to learn that Laurence is a "mostly-bad" villain aka The Porcupine and a competitor with Peter for Mary-Jane's affections.

Well, Laurence is at MJ's house watching TV with the lovely lady when Ock, Electro and Eraser interrupt the news broadcast and make their demands to have control of the city handed over to them. Or else they will erase some cute chick they have held hostage. Actually they erase her anyhow, just to show how tough they are (despite the gay latex costumes).

That's a lot of set-up - especially since we're still only on page three out of eleven. But we're getting there. Just a little more preparation. Specifically, Laurence runs off leaving MJ alone after seeing Ock and Friends on TV. He changes into his Porcupine suit and goes off to try and find the three super-villains. His plan? Well, he figures that if he can join their gang then he can "dispose of" Peter Parker. Remember that Laurence knows that Peter is actually Spider-Man.

While we're on the subject - remember that Ock also knows Peter's identity. Yeahs sure, Daredevil's ruse fooled the general public. But Ock actually saw him change out of Spider-Man costume a couple of issues ago, and he won't be so easily dissuaded. Except that he will probably just conveniently forget. Sigh.

Right, now we can get to the action. Spider-Man crashes into the Judge's home, but fails to save his honor from being erased! In fact Spider-Man can't even save himself from being scrubbed-out by The Eraser! Ouch! The Porcupine crashes in just at that point, but the real villains tell the pointy wannabe bad guy to get lost. At least they don't erase him... though I reckon his ego is feeling pretty wiped-out at this point.

But (you ask) what of our favorite Spider-Dude? Surely he can't be... deceased...? Noooooo! Indeed no. Instead he has been teleported to a deserted ancient city. Deserted? Well, not exactly. It's the desolate home of some savage alien warriors and their wild pet werewolf hunting dogs. Dogs just perfect for hunting down all the other unhappy humans who like Spidey have also been unwillingly transported by The Eraser to goodness-knows-where.

Not keen to spend the rest of his life in the middle of nowhere, Spider-Man begins to organize his fellow exiles, who include several Hydra agents among them. When the warriors make their (conveniently timed) final attack, Spider-Man makes a shock counter-attack, then leads his ragtag band in chase to pursue the aliens back to the part of the city where they have their base.

While the natives regroup their forces for a counter-counter-attack, Spider-Man's band (very conveniently indeed) stumble across a laboratory containing a couple of gloves similar to those used by The Eraser. One can only assume that these gloves were so common that everybody used them for transport, and left them lying around as casually as we would abandon a pair of gym shoes.

Even more conveniently, the gloves are still charged and functioning after however many centuries abandoned. Even, even more good luck when the humans can instantly figure out how to make them work. The final inconceivably unlikely piece of exceptionally good fortune when this randomly picked-up item just happens to transport everybody (except Spider-Man) back to the judges house. Whew! That was lucky!

Our heroic Spider-Man stays behind to tackle the wolves and the warriors, until he can snag another handily placed glove and (through the exactly same set of incredibly improbably circumstances) also returns back to Earth outside the Judge's home along with everybody else. Now all Spider-Man needs to do next issue is make things up with Mary Jane, given that he's five hours late for a date. And, oh yeah, finally take care of Ock's Oddball Outfit for good this time.

In General...

We're damn close to crossed the line here from "good silly fun" to "you're just asking me to believe way too many coincidences".

If we assume that these teleportation gloves were very common, then that does explain why Spider-Man and company just happened to stumble across a couple of them so easily. But then that would kind of imply that they were used for all sorts of purposes, so what are the chances of the glove they happened to find just happening to be pointing at Judge Emily's house?

Unless the glove was a "return glove". But that would only work if you had already been teleported once and had somewhere to return to. So maybe there are two types of gloves. And why then doesn't the glove go with you when you teleport? Spider-Man used a glove on himself, but had no glove when he arrived back on Earth. Great way to get stranded!

AAAARRRGH! It all just makes my head hurt. THIS MAKES NO SENSE!

Overall Rating...

There's "over the top silly fun" and then there's "just way too far over the top". We're well into category (b) here with this issue and these crazy, convenient transport gloves.

It just leaves so many questions! Like, how come The Eraser has two gloves, when clearly only one glove is necessary? Is one a backup? Are they linked? Otherwise surely there's a chance you could teleport people to two different places at once.

And given that on the return, everybody got back to a specific location, surely the same would apply when people were transported to the alien city? So the alien warriors could just camp out in one location.

Except, maybe that city was New York in a distant future? In which case, people were just transported in time not in space? Hmm... a time machine is a pretty serious thing. Even Reed Richards doesn't have access to a reliable one. Maybe it's New York in an alternate reality. So that would explain why everybody came back to where they left from. AHA!

Oh, no, dammit. Because Spidey arrived in one part of the "other" city, then they ran through the city, but still returned back to where they came from! So much for that theory. Nope, it's just simple. This does NOT make any sense at all. Two senseless webs.

Footnote...

This is the last issue in this current layout. Next issue features a "NEW LOOK" with changes to the cover layout, and a jump from 36 pages to 44 pages.