Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #157

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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.

Most issues feature a "guest star" who appears in the posters, puzzles and character files that fill out the rest of the magazine in and around the ten-page story. This issue features Nick Fury and the guys of A.I.M.

In Detail...

"Family Ties"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #157
Oct 2007 : SM Title
Summary: 03-Oct-2007
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  Andie Tong
Inker:  Andie Tong
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Review

Swinging out on the town, Spidey muses how life isn't so bad right now. Money is tight, but Aunt May is well and he's getting on great with his girlfriend MJ. So why does he have a nagging tingling in his Spider-Sense? He swings into the tail end of a S.H.I.E.L.D. cleanup of an A.I.M. cell. That's Advanced Idea Mechanics, the high-tech terrorists with the crazy yellow beekeeper outfits.

Suddenly, more A.I.M. guys in power-armor arrive on the scene. S.H.I.E.L.D. is in trouble, and Spidey swings in the shift the balance in favor of the good guys. In the heat of battle, Nick Fury yells out "Peter, on your six, look out!"

Spidey is freaked out 'cos Nick used his real name in public. And so he damn well should be. Nick Fury is equal only to Captain America in his discipline and rigorous training. He handles thousands of men, countless secret agents. Fury knows that any silly slip could mean the death of someone under his command. So what on earth is he doing making a newbie mistake like that?

Nick apologies for the mistake, and reveals that of course he knows Spidey's real name, since SHIELD has a full file on the wall-crawler. He lends his handheld to Spidey. Spidey notices a sub-file on his own parents, Richard and Mary Parker. "Oh, you weren't supposed to see that," says Nick. "Give that back."

What on earth is going on here? Nick Fury letting slip two top-priority secrets in as many minutes? The only possible explanation is that this is a deliberate set-up. Clearly Fury wanted to send Spidey on a mission, and these "mistakes" are his way of getting him involved.

Spidey runs away with Fury's handheld and peruses the files at his leisure. Now, surely at this stage Fury could have the access shut off. But he doesn't, and Peter discovers that his parents were low-level U.S. Agents who flew off in a light plane and were never seen again. They were found guilty of "Betrayal", "Subversive Activities" and "Security Breach." Ooooh...

Peter talks to Aunt May and discovers that she knew about this all along - it was all through the papers at the time. Peter shifts into Spidey costume and heads out the window - meeting Nick Fury who was waiting outside. Yeah, the head of an international agency still has time to run the occasional six-hour surveillance shift.

Nick says that he never believed Peter's parents were traitors. He sends Peter off to Europe on his "unofficial" mission. And he warns Peter to be careful, since he thinks there's a mole within S.H.I.E.L.D.

In General...

In general the story telling is very slow. Ten pages to tell something that Lee and Ditko would have wrapped up in two or three. Still, at least we have something approaching an ongoing story.

Nick Fury's behavior is, as noted, incredibly uncharacteristic. For now I'm going to give writer Ferg Handley the benefit of the doubt and assume these were intentional "slips" on Fury's part. But if they turn out not to have been deliberate, I'll be mighty disappointed.

Overall Rating...

A slow and greatly dumbed-down reinvention of the original story in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #5. Definitely less dumb that preceding issues, but still hardly epic stuff. Let's call it two webs and see where things go from here.

The rest of the magazine is the usual mix of filler - a page of ads for Spidey toys, 2 page profile on Nick Fury, 2 page spread of Spidey's top 5 battle-suited friends and foes, 2 pages of puzzles, a page of coloring, a black costume Spidey poster, a 2-page post featuring Spidey/Fury/Parents/AIM, a Sandman poster, 2 more pages of puzzles, and 2 pages of SHIELD profiles. Then there's a couple of pages of fan letters, and a final spot the differences puzzle.