Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #159
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 Valkyrie.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #159
Nov 2007 : SM Title
Spider-Man is in Berlin, following a trail to prove the innocence of his parents - U.S. secret agents who were accused of being traitors to their country. The trail is at least fifteen years old. Peter is not a trained detective. He does not speak the language of the countries in which he is "investigating".
References are made his parents disappearing during the cold war, which really has to mean prior to the fall of the wall. That was in 1989, so 19 years ago. Peter was four or five when his parents died, making him around twenty-four now. I guess this could work, at a real stretch, though he really isn't portrayed as having that age in these stories.
Back to the story. Peter is, as mentioned, in Berlin. He makes his way to a nightclub, the name of which he found in an old police file in France. Despite not reading French or German, Peter deciphered the name of this nightclub in a foreign country. So, how many nightclubs do you think survive twenty years with the same name? Well, clearly this one did.
Peter visits the nightclub and gets a Spider-Sense tingle. Then he swaps to Spidey duds and spends several hours waiting on the roof. Some guys from A.I.M. turn up. So... if A.I.M. turned up hours later, what was it that gave the Spider-Sense tingle? And A.I.M. ... coincidentally the outfit that he randomly tackled in the U.S. in a "totally unrelated" case two years ago.
I call... Bullshit!
The A.I.M. guys are carrying something in a sealed crate. They refer to an old secret base beneath the nightclub, which is "perfect for their guest." Spidey KO's the A.I.M. guys, who speak a mix of English and German worthy of the worst of B-grade war movies. Then Doctor Chen Lu, the Radioactive Man appears from seeming nowhere. So... he was the "guest"? Then, how did he escape the (apparently undamaged) crate? Spidey didn't touch the crate. Did one of the guards release him? Is he working for A.I.M.? If so, why did they lock him in a crate.
Chen Lu tells Spidey (in English) that he will "regret meddling." Meddling in what? We don't find out, as Spidey and Radioactive Man fight. Valkyrie turns up and helps fight. Why? Apparently she lives in Berlin as the Germans "used to worship the old Nordic gods." Really?
Time for a quick lesson in Nordic culture. The Nordic countries are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Note the complete absence of Germany on this list! The problem here is that Marvel only has one German Super-Hero, Nightcrawler, and he turned up LAST issue in Paris. Lousy planning there! So they pretend that Valkyrie feels at home in Germany, and we all pretend not to notice.
Fighting. Spidey is irradiated so majorly that he's glowing green. Oh no! That is serious radiation, I mean really that is so far past screwed that you don't even wanna know the details. But it turns out that Valkyrie has the magical power to absorb massive lethal levels of radiation. Oh yeah, I read that in her profile somewhere.
We don't see what happens with the defeated Radioactive Man. But Spider-Man spends the next thirty minutes searching through the rubble of the old A.I.M. base. Fortunately, no police turn up during that time to investigate the rubbled explosion or the nuclear radiation. Which is good luck, because it gives Spidey time to find a scrap of paper hinting at a mission for the Radioactive Man in Rome. Yay, we have our next clue!
What the Fruitcake? Spidey finds a scrap of paper in the deserted base. Why would the instructions be in the deserted base for a recent mission? And why on earth are we supposed to believe the timing of this, or the fact that umpteen years later this has anything to do with Peter's parents?
Seriously, trying to convince us that Peter is a master detective is about as credible as trying to make me believe that George W. Bush is a master of Post-Modern Keynesian Economic Theory. This whole stupid story line just makes me want to walk out into the back yard and scream until I can taste blood in my throat.
The rest of the pages contain the usual filler. A one-page background to this complex story line. A 1-page Valkyrie profile. A page of Spidey toy advertisements. A 2-page spread of Spideys top 5 smartest, which bizarrely features Dr. Strange but omits Hank Pym. 2 pages of puzzles, 1 page coloring, a 1-page poster, a nice centerfold featuring Spidey and Valkyrie, a page of movie/TV/comic promos. A page of competition promo, a questionnaire based on the story, a drawing page, a two-page profile on Radioactive Man, then 2 pages of letters with a Mini Marvels strip. One more page of puzzles and we're done!
Any promise that this tale showed has long since evaporated. The premise was always difficult to swallow, and the implementation is completely laughable.
One web, and that's just because I'm saving the rock-bottom ratings for what is doubtless worse to come.