Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #127
This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History
This review was first published on: Sep 2013.
These UK magazines produced original stories for ten or more years from 1999 until they were shut down following the Disney buyout of Marvel in 2012. Apart from the occasional reprint, each issue features an 11 page story produced by a UK-based creative team. The stories were out-of-continuity, but were loosely based on mainstream Marvel characters.
These issues are pretty hard to find, but I've managed to acquire nearly a complete set, and I'm catching up with reviews as I acquire them under our lookback section "British History".
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #127
Jan 2006 : SM Title
This story begins by referencing an earlier issue in which Spider-Man helped get the Rhino arrested for robbery and criminal damage. Since I'm trying to earn my "Assistant Editor's Badge", I'll add the detail that the referenced Rhino Rampage was Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #104, and Rhino subsequently appeared in prison during Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #121.
And... that's enough inter-issue continuity for today. Rhino and Cobra have been gratuitously identified as the villains for this issue. What more do you need to know?
The Rhino and the Cobra have escaped prison together, and are believed to be hiding out somewhere in New York City. Spider-Man has been trying to track them down, but he eventually gives up and returns home to Forest Hills where he discovers a police car outside his home. Naturally he fears for the safety of his Aunt May, but soon discovers that the police simply wish to talk to Peter to see if he can assist in helping locate Peter's boss, Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson who appears to have been kidnapped.
Spider-Man hits the streets the next night, seeking clues. He finds nothing. The day after, however, he gets a surprisingly cold brush-off from assistant editor Robbie Robertson. A suspicious Peter (which is to say, Spider-Man) later follows Robbie and sees him drop-off a suitcase in Central Park which is picked up by Cobra.
Spidey tags Cobra with a Spider-Tracer and follows him (via a sewer) to a secret hideout where he encounters Rhino, Cobra and a chained-up Jonah Jameson. Then follows six pages (out of the total story length of 11 pages) of gratuitous violence between Spidey, Rhino, Cobra and Luke Cage.
"Luke Who? What? When?" I hear you ask.
"Luke Cage," I reply. You see, Spidey does his usual "dodge the Rhino charge" trick, leaving Rhino to smash out through a concrete wall and into the streets of Harlem - stomping grounds of the famous Hero for Hire.
[Accuracy Check confirms - Harlem is indeed adjacent to (and just North of) Central Park].
Of course, the outcome of the fight was never in doubt. After battling for long enough to get to the necessary page count, the good guys win the fight and Jonah is set free. The only question is, what about the quarter-million dollar reward that the Bugle offered for Jonah's safe release?
Jonah refuses to give any reward to Spidey. But of course, Spider-Man doesn't want the money. Instead, he wants it to go to repair the damage to the just-opened community centre that was damaged during the fight.
Jonah agrees to this, as long as there is a commemorative plaque. And Luke Cage is more than happy to grant his request... promising a plaque to recognise Spider-Man's assistance in the matter. Jonah is left spluttering.
While this plot does have a bit more detail than others in the series, it still feels utterly linear.
The Setup: Rhino and Cobra are free in New York. Jonah is kidnapped.
Clue & Reveal: Robbie is suspicious, Spider-Man follows him.
Battle: Rhino, Cobra, Spider-Man, Luke Cage.
Final Gag: The commemorative plaque.
The pencils and layouts by Andie Tong are excellent, they incorporate excellent detail and well-constructed panel work. But they can't add any depth to what is essentially a one-track story.
I guess there's much worse stuff out there. There's nothing fundamentally "bad" in this script. There's just nothing particularly new, complex, informative, demanding, curious or enlightening in it.
Let's call it three webs.