Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #114

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This review was first published on: 2005.

Background...

Ever wondered what happened to the Spider-Man of the 90's TV cartoon series? Well, he's alive and kicking in Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine, currently being released every three weeks in the United Kingdom. Each issue features a swag of puzzles, posters, letters, and general all-out Spidey fun - all aimed at the young at heart. Plus, there's an 11-page original story featuring more of Spider-Man's Adventures.

In Detail...

"Red Skull on the Rampage!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #114
Apr 2005 : SM Title
Summary: 06-Apr-2004
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Jim Alexander (Spidey)
Pencils:  Jon Haward (Spidey)
Inker:  John Stokes (Spidey)
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Milestones (Featuring Captain Britain, Psylocke & Sub-Mariner)
 Reprinted In: Marvel Europe

The Red Skull sits in his chamber atop his New York Tower base. In his hands he holds a terrible power, the "Cosmic Cube". Wielded by another, this epic artifact might be a force for good, but in the hands of this madman, it means only destruction... and death!

Down at street level, Spidey is finding that out for himself, as he battles demonic vehicles that have turned upon innocent bystanders. This kind of crazy stuff is happening all over, and the webbed-one is far from pleased, and he's not alone. Brian Braddock has arrived on the "international flight from London" (quote). Fool! He should have saved time and taken the domestic flight from London to New York! Oh well, he'll know for next time.

Braddock is, of course, the mild-mannered alter-ego of Captain Britain. Sort of like Captain America, but the costume is a little different, and CB always let's CA decide which countries to invade, and then just tags along after. But Braddock has no time to waste, he is on the trail of the the "dark evil" of the Cosmic Cube, and the mystical micro-circuitry of his costume has detected it. Changing mid-airport, he launches himself into the air!

Spidey spots Captain Brit flying amid the city towers, and manages to catch up with him. I'm not quite sure how, since Braddock flies at MACH-something, probably Spidey took a short-cut. Spidey asks CB "what's up", but the big guy tells Spidey that he has no time to talk. In response, the web-slinger accuses CB of being rude, and jumps onto the Cap's back, sending them both crashing through the glass-topped dome of the nearest tower. Hah! Nice way to greet a fellow, hero... involve him in some unplanned property damage. Of course, this is the Red Skull's tower, so it doesn't matter. But Spidey sure didn't know that!

Captain Britain responds to the unprovoked assault with a timely recap of his origin story, which fills the intervening moments until the Skull turns up and starts with the shooting. Except it's a robot, which is easily defeated. Enter the real Skull, with Cube in hand. Seems that the infinite power of the Cosmic Cube isn't enough! Skully wants CB's power too! And I want a back-rub. And a pony. And...

The Skull moves the battle back to Dartmoor, the location of Captain Britain's origin. Skull then warps reality... to... err... make himself bigger. But it won't help. The Skull has taken Captain Britain back to the place that is the source of the Cap's power, and thus the Captain's punch can KO the Red Skull. Of course, it seems kind of odd that the battle between two INFINITE COSMIC POWERS should boil down to who can hit who the hardest. But hey, that's the story. The Red Skull is now the Red "slightly brain-damaged and concussed" Skull, and the heroes have saved the day.

In General...

Awww man. I hate having to judge these stories. This is a fun mag for nine-year-old boys. What right do I have to complain about the lack of maturity in the writing? Can I really expect kids tales to entertain adults too? Well, I must now confess to having spent much of the last couple of days reading "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", and so I do kind of believe that it is possible to appeal to kids and adults at the same time.

I don't have any problem with the idea of pitting the power of Merlin against the power of the Cosmic Cube, although if I was a betting guy, I would have considered Merlin's power to be rather earth-bound and hardly even close to that of the power cosmic. What bugs me most is the characterisations. Spidey's senseless attack on Braddock is completely unjustified. Braddock's tame response is equally as inconceivable. The Red Skull's actions and responses seem stilted and dull.

As for the premise that the Skull might take the fight to the one place where he could be defeated... that the kind of Deus Ex Machina on which many stories depend, but it's the way that it is told that determines if the tale is convincing, and there's just something about the story-telling here which fails to draw me in and persuade me to accept this convenient fact. Finally, the three pages of Spidey/Braddock vs. "Giant Red Skull" mindless battle are just pure filler, and the effect of the competent art is lost by just too much repetition.

Overall Rating...

One and a half-webs. Hard to get too caught up in this tale. Too many plot glitches, dubious dialog, and unconvincing events. Sorry folks.