Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #138

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Dec 2010.


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 today (in 2010).

Since I don't live in the UK, I've been dependent on the kindness of others to get my hands on a regular feed of this title. In the past four years, I've been able to review every issue starting with #152. Now thanks to the miracle of eBay, I've acquired most of the issues from #132 up to #151... so let's get on with the job of filling in the gaps in our Looking Back section... "British History".

As this issue opens, Norman Osborn is dead. It's one of those things that tends to happen quite frequently in Spider-Man comics and movies - at least once in each separate continuity. In the Spectacular Spider-Man UK version, things seem to have played out according to the standard formula, however since I don't yet own issue #137, I can't confirm all of the details.

However, it is apparant that most of the the normal conventions have been followed. The Green Goblin was killed in battle with Spider-Man. Spider-Man ensured that Norman's secret identity remained secret, especially from his son Harry. Plus, as per regulation, Harry clearly holds Spider-Man responsible for the death of his dad.

In Detail...

"Raw Power!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #138
Sep 2006 : SM Title
Summary: 21-Aug-2006
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  Jon Haward
Inker:  Dylan Teague, Lee Townsend
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We get a page of Peter and Harry on a rainy day at the funeral of Norman Osborn, and then it's onto the villain of the day - Doctor Octopus. Peter's not much in the mood for tackling super-villains. But when Jonah calls on Peter's photography skills to get some shots of Dock Ock handing out a beating to Daredevil on some Manhattan rooftop, it is (as usual) Spider-Man who actually arrives on the scene, just in time to see Daredevil knocked cold.

Spidey manages to pull ol' Hornhead from the scene, but then learns for himself just how dangerous a foe Doc Ock can be. Otto has rigged up his tentacles with a high-voltage surprise. Daredevil was the first victim, and Spider-Man takes a nasty zap himself. The battle then runs around the neighbouring building site, with Ock briefly taking a hostage. Spider-Man looks for a way to counter Ock's electric jolts.

The webhead first manages to trick Ock into short-circuiting his arms on a metal beam. That has some temporary effect. But then he comes up with the idea of grounding himself on the building's lightning rod.

This is bullshit science for two fundamental reasons. One, since Sidey is at one point given a zap while holding nothing at all, it is clear that Ock's arms form a circuit as of themselves - i.e. one arm is the positive and the other the negative. They form an independent loop, and earthing or grounding is entirely irrelevant.

Secondly and most importantly - if you are being struck by high-voltage electricity, grounding yourself is absolutely the WORST thing you can do. Kids, please don't try this at home - but if you are being zapped by a psychotic super-villain, your best defense is to insulate yourself, NOT ground yourself.

Still, there's no reason why we should expect any common sense out of these stories. So the basic laws of electricity will just have to slip out of the scene with an embarassed shuffle, leaving Spider-Man to sock Ock with a knockout punch to the jaw. Meanwhile, Daredevil recovers consciousness too late to help with the final round of the battle, but still in time to offer Spider-Man some legal assistance if he needs it. Sounds like there may be some lingering problems caused by the fight with Norman.

The fight with Doctor Octopus filled the central seven pages of this eleven page tale, leaving two pages left for a final wrap-up. In the first, Spidey discovers that his belt camera was damaged, and Jonah rips off Peter as usual by underpaying him for the photos he took. For a bright guy, Peter really needs to learn about the market economy. There's a lot of news sources out there these days ya know! Ever heard of "selling to the highest bidder?"

In the second, Peter pays a visit to Harry, which doesn't go particularly well. Harry spots the Spider-Man photo in the Daily Bugle, which makes him furious since (a) he believes that Spidey killed his dad, and (b) he believes that Peter makes a living out of selling photos of Spider-Man. Technically, the second point is true.

In General...

Apart from a fatal misunderstanding of how electricity actually flows from one point to another, there's nothing fundamentally bad with this story other than the fact that (a) all of the Harry/Norman/Spidey stuff is utterly derivitive, and (b) the bulk of the story (i.e. the Ock/Spidey fight) is very, very dull.

Overall Rating...

Hmm, when I say it like that, it doesn't sound very good. Two webs.