Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #156

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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...

"Once an Avenger..."
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #156
Sep 2007 : SM Title
Summary: 12-Sep-2007
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  John Royle
Inker:  Joe Rubinstein
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Review

Two cops spot Bruce Banner outside the Fantastic Four building. He's the Hulk's alter ego, so the two cops attempt to arrest him by pulling guns and threatening him.

Just contemplate that for a moment. These two cops have studied Bruce's ordinary, nondescript face in mugshots so frequently that they know him well enough to spot him walking across a busy downtown street. Yet they didn't get around to reading the bit that says "when threatened and put under stress this man will turn into an indestructible raging behemoth. They deserve the beating they get handed.

Meanwhile, Peter Parker is watching Jet Lo movies. Kung! Fu! Ugh! Owww! In-between changing movies, he spots the Hulk on TV. The Hulk has just handed out a plate of KO-knuckle-sandwiches to the Avengers (the FF were out of town). So naturally Spider-Man heads over to save the day.

Iron Man arrives but gets a thumping from the Hulk. He stays conscious long enough to explain the Spider-Man that the military (bless 'em) just created a Hulk Buster bomb that is tagged to the Hulks genetic signature. However, the bomb can't be stopped due to some sort of glitch. And now the Hulk is in Manhattan, and shortly the bomb will be too. Whoops! You can bomb innocent civilians in Afghanistan and get away with it. But New York is a different kettle of piscine pals.

With excellent timing, Iron Man's armor suddenly runs back out of power, announcing that it will be back on full power in five minutes. Another brilliant military design decision - armor that insists on being fully recharged before you can turn it on. Well, it's a plot device I guess. Let's count on him being back in five minutes to help save the day.

Spider-Man attacks the Hulk and is thrown around. But wait, who is turning up to save the day? Hawkeye! The most powerful of all Avengers! Well, not really. But he's the feature hero of this issue of the magazine, so he kind of had to turn up at some stage.

Hawkeye joins the long list of characters in this fight who have attacked the Hulk and received a non-fatal smashing for the privilege. Hawkeye tries sleep gas arrows, and electric arrows that tap into the cities power supply (nice trick - with arrows like that, power bills will be a thing of the past). But neither of those gimmicks work. But wait... Spidey has an idea!

It's a martial arts move called the "Serpent Strike". He saw it in his Jet Lo movie. You have to hit five nerve points in a specific sequence. Hawkeye uses his last four arrows, they hit the nerve points (shattering against the Hulk's impervious skin as they do so). The web-slinger then hurtles in to strike the fifth nerve point. Hulk is stunned, and returns to his human form...

...just in time! The Hulk-sensing bomb has just rocketed in, but with the Hulk vanishing to be replaced by Bruce Banner, it is confused. Iron Man traps the bomb with a repulsor field - which given that he does so with ease despite the bomb's strike velocity momentum, is almost certainly something he could have done even before the Hulk de-Hulked.

Iron Man takes the bomb into space to destroy, and Banner is lead away by the high-tech military who the Avengers all trust so much despite the fact that they make bombs that nearly destroy New York. Hawkeye asks how Spidey knew about the Serpent-Strike, and the web-head replies that he "learned about it from his Sensei Master." Hahahaha! Laugh? I nearly did. Well, not really.

In General...

The rest of the mag features a 2-page Hawkeye profile, a 2-page spread of "Spidey's Top 5 Oddball Villains." The Sugarman, Blob, Mojo, Man-Thing, Impossible Man...? These are Spidey's Top 5 Oddball villains?

Add 2 pages of puzzles, a coloring page, a Hawkeye poster, a centerfold Spider-Man/Hulk/Hawekeye poster, a Spider-Man post, 3 more pages of puzzles. Then another puzzle page, a 2-page Hulk profile, the letters pages (with a Hawkeye/Spider-Man mini-Marvels strip by Chris Giarrusso). Then a pin-up target for the Hawkeye bow that comes packed free with this magazine, and the back cover. That's a wrap guys!

Overall Rating...

The main story is bad enough to cause an almost physical suffering when reading, but without descending into ludicrous amusement. It's sub-mediocre in the most uninteresting way.

I've just spent ten minutes having this story insult my intelligence, so I'm not gonna insult yours by walking you through all the dumb things in this story. But trust me, one web is a pretty generous rating.