Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #158
This review was first published on: 2008.
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 Nightcrawler.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #158
Oct 2007 : SM Title
Peter has just learned that his parents were U.S. agents, who mysteriously vanished years ago, and were widely reported as traitors to their country. Nick Fury didn't believe it, so he's sent a teenage boy who doesn't speak French to Paris to investigate a years-old crime that Fury himself couldn't resolve at the time.
Well, good luck with that.
Fury has set up a cover story involving Peter winning a science competition, and he's in a crappy Paris hotel room within about 50 yards of the Eiffel Tower. Interesting, since I didn't see any residential hotels that close to the tower when I was there. There was some residential about 200 yards away, but that was a very expensive district indeed. Still, can't expect the story writer to spend five minutes on Google Earth just to worry about lousy things like geographic accuracy.
Pah, who cares for details. Peter changes to Spidey and swings over to the police station where his parent's case was "handled". The case was apparently treated very superficially at the time with "no formal investigation". Really? It appeared in all the papers. So Fury didn't think Peter's parents were guilty, but he didn't force a formal investigation? Well... I'm sure this will all be explained.
Spidey breaks into the Gendarmerie and finds his way into the records room. Fortunately, 10 years on, the records of the case haven't been put into storage, and he finds the file. He reads the summary, about how they took off from France to England in a Cessna. Strange that he can read the file, though he couldn't read the signs to find the records room. I guess all those French cops write in English. Handy, eh?
There's also a bill from a Berlin nightclub, and a file on a guy named Jacob Strauss. The juicy bits of the paper file have been deleted (though again, how he knows that since he doesn't speak French is very interesting). But Fury's handheld tells him that the Strauss guy is a mercenary with a shady background. So, Spidey has some 10-year old leads. Yay!
Peter swings back part the Louvre, and his Spidey sense goes off. He heads down and sees some security guards turned to stone. Yeah, it's the Grey Gargoyle on a coincidental and totally unrelated crime. Fight. Spidey loses. Nightcrawler turns up. Fight. All teleport to top of Eiffel Tower. Nightcrawler turned to stone. Spidey drops Gargoyle from great height, KO. Nightcrawler will get better in an hour.
Peter calls MJ. Homesick.
Next issue, Berlin.
Yawn. I presume that Peter is going to stumble across one clue after another as he heads across Europe fighting the local super-villains. But the "detective" side of things lacks any depth - Peter has no detecting skills, and he's clearly just going to be the beneficiary of an incredible amount of good luck.
The superhero and super-villain cameos are dull, and there's no real "French" feel here. Eiffel Tower and Louvre make their uninspiring appearances. Peter doesn't actually really meet any of the genuine Paris locals, he might as well be in Disneyland.
Add TWO pages of ads this time, including a page of ads for the Simpsons (first time I recall a non-Spidey page in this magazine). 1-page Nightcrawler profile, 2 pages of Spideys Top 5 Speedster buddies and villains, 2 pages of puzzles, a competition to win "Spider-Man Friend of Foe" on X-Box 360, a 2-page centerfold Spidey/Nightcrawler poster, some photos from Spider-Man 3 with another competition. Then 2 more pages of puzzles, 2 page Grey Gargoyle profile, 2 page letters, another page repeating both competitons, and... we're done!
Given that we're finally getting a multi-issue story arc, I thought we'd get some depth here. But this is as shallow as a puddle of dog pee on a summers day. One and a half webs.