Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #155

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

This UK magazine features a new Spidey story each issue, which is to say, each three weeks.

This relatively long-running mag started off by reprinting Spider-Man stories, but then swapped to producing original tales. Originally those new stories were one-off tales set in a "Generic Spider-Man" continuity which had much in common with the Spider-Man of the 1990's Cartoon series. More recently they attempted to construct their own "Ultimate Spider-Man-esque" version of young Peter Parker, though recent issues seem to have drifted back to the generic cartoon continuity.

In Detail...

"Wall of Sound"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #155
Aug 2007 : SM Title
Summary: 22-Aug-2007
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  Andie Tong
Inker:  Kris Justice
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Review

One of the Kingpin's men Spider-Man nabbed comitting a jewelery story heist has attempted to bargain his way free by blabbing about a strange shipment coming on the docks. I'm not sure why all criminal shipments seem to come in via sea... how often does Spidey stake out airports for mysterious shipments? I guess there's just something more murky and dark about shipping docks that make it a better scene for Spidey stories. Certainly if I was a Marvel criminal, I'd always have stuff flown in. The customs checking is roughly identical, and the super-heroes don't interfere with planes, or so it seems.

Anyhow, Spidey is doing the late night dock stakeout when some crooks turn up to break into a container. If the stuff is so valuable, how come the real owners haven't claimed it yet. Or if they're the real owners, how come they have to sneak in at night to pick it up? Meh, doesn't matter. Black Panther, aka T'challa, King of Wakanda has arrived. Spidey joins in, but T'challa says:

"Spider-Man! Normally a welcome ally -- but this is my fight!"

I have no idea why he says that. He's here for something important, but he immediately pisses off the web-head? Why would he do something like that? What's so special about this fight that makes it a matter of... honor? Nothing at all, it seems. It's just random verbiage to fill the page.

Black Panther recovers the goods and tells Spidey that it is full of Antarctic Vibranium (the kind that generates vibrations, not absorbs them like Wakandan Vibranium). So, after insisting that this is a private matter, Black Panther just tells Spidey what's going on?

Klaw arrives. He's made of solid sounds and has a sound beam projector for a hand. Hence the name of this story... "Wall of Sound". He's behind the theft of the shipment. He KO's the heroes, kidnapping Black Panther and taking the Vibranium. Spider-Man is knocked into the harbour. He doesn't come 'round for a while.

So how come Spidey doesn't drown then? A wet mask over the face? The unconscious goons have recovered and departed, so it was quite a period Spidey was floating in the water. Surely he should be dead. And why was Klaw there? Weren't they his goons? Why bring along extra witnesses if he was just going to turn up himself. He carried away Black Panther and the Vibranium without his (unconscious) thugs. So, were they his thugs or not? Was Klaw the rightful owner of the shipment, in which case who were the guys with the crowbars breaking open the container? None of this makes sense.

Dragging himself back onto the docks, Spidey picks up a tracking device that "Has Gotta Be T'challa's." It directs him to an "old warehouse". Of course, nobody uses new warehouses, all the best crooks use old warehouses. Klaw is busy explaining his doomsday device to the trussed-up Black Panther. He's created a machine that generates a wave that destroys electronic devices... he's going to destroy all the electronics in the world unless the "World Leaders" all surrender to him.

He turns on the machine to prove it works, and indeed it does. Klaw's video cameras show images of electronics being destroyed all over the city.

Hang on a minute... his video cameras are showing the electronics being destroyed?! How come THEY aren't also destroyed? Easy to answer. Because this is a stupid story with broken logic. Let's move on.

Klaw is in full despot-raving mode as Spidey sneaks in and released the BLack Panther. Then, Spidey announces his arrival with "Tell me Klaw, does that metal mitt of yours get cable TV?" before attacking.

Why would Spidey make a gag before attacking an incredibly powerful foe? Can't he actually make a sneak attack? If so, he's an idiot. Blowing his stealth advantage for nothing is just silly.

Klaw and Spidey fight, and Klaw wins by wrapping Spider-Man up in a "barrier of solid sound -- so tightly woven, even air molecules cannot pass through." The ball is about 10 foot across, but for some reason Spidey starts suffocating immediately, even though he has quite a bit of air left in there with him.

That doesn't matter though, T'challa is back in the fight. Klaw attacks him instead, but cannot harm him. Klaw continues while T'challa soaks up all the energy, until there is nothing left of Klaw except his sound projector.

How did this work? Well, as T'challa explains to Spider-Man: "I used your diversion to re-calibrate his Sonitron machine, then I connected it to my costume which is laced with Wakadan Vibranium."

So it was sound waves destroying the electronics? How does sound destroy electronics miles away, but not other things? What possible law of physics can even begin to justify that? Sound is a purely mechanical process, and doesn't fundamentally discriminate between metals and non-metals. I know comics uses mumbo-jumbo-physics, but I do kind of expect there to be a seed of real science at the bottom of it all. This is just lame.

And what? In twenty seconds, Black Panther completely reworked the meaning of a machine to take it from generating waves to destroy electronic devices, to absorbing audible sound? That's like converting a television into a video camera using nothing but a blunt pencil. Can't we even have vaguely sensible inventions here?

Well, Spidey destroys the Sonitron machine. No mention of what happens to the Antarctic Vibranium. Then web-head heads off to see the Kingpin. He crashes into the Kingpin's skyscraper office, and berates him for supplying Klaw with Vibranium (though Kingpin denies having done so). Then Spidey webs Fisk to a wall, and turns up the aircon to max, leaving him to sweat for an hour.

That's his punishment for nearly destroying the world? An hour in a sauna?

So... if Kingpin arranged the Vibranium for Klaw, how come they had to commit burglary on the docks? Why can't they just take the container to a warehouse and do the handover there? Awww... I'm not going to think about that any more, it just makes me cross.

In General...

Yet another badly-assembled, cliche-filled tale with a lame punchline. I can't remember the last good story we saw out of this magazine.

The usual extras are there, lots of posters, fact-files, a bit of coloring, some competitions and puzzles, a letters page, and only a page or two of actual advertisements - all of which are for Spidey/Marvel stuff.

Overall Rating...

Chock-full of stuff, but the story keeps dragging the rating down. One and a half webs for a very mediocre effort indeed.