Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #161

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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.

Each issue proudly proclaims to feature a "Brand New Spidey Story". This is true, though sadly what it possesses in "Brand Newness" it resoundingly lacks in "Any Goodness". The recent issues also tend to 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 skips the guest star and calls in TWO guest villains instead - Rhino and Bullseye. Ouch!

In Detail...

"Duel in the Sun"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #161
Jan 2008 : SM Title
Summary: 02-Jan-2008
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  Andie Tong
Inker:  Kris Justice
Staff Only

Spidey is in Spain, as part of his European Tour. Guided occasionally by Nick Fury, the web-head is trying to prove that his parents Richard and Mary Parker were not the traitors that they were generally believed to be all those years ago at the time of their death.

Interestingly enough, everywhere Spidey goes, he keeps bumping into A.I.M. Surely they must be involved in his parent's demise? Well, we're told to believe that - though in fact while there's plenty of A.I.M. in the here-and-now, there's no evidence presented whatsoever to suggest that the current activities of A.I.M. have anything to do with the events of the past. Still, we're not being asked to think here. Just look at the pretty pictures and shut up.

After following a rather unconvincing trail of clues across Europe, Peter Parker is now simply following a lead given to him by Fury, and is wandering around Cadiz, in the south of Spain, waiting for his Spidey sense to fire. Which... it does. And Peter spots Jacob Strauss, a mercenary who's photo appeared among the French police files of the original investigation into his parents death.

Well... random good luck is pretty much the heart of these Spidey stories. In fact, this entire tale is degenerating into a series of one-in-a-million chances, so why should this issue be any different. Heaven forbid that Spidey should demonstrate any actual talent or ability. Nah, he just needs to walk around until he recognize a face from a twenty-year-old police file.

Peter also spots the Rhino standing behind a pile of boxes. Gee, there's a hundred tourists standing behind Peter, good thing none of them noticed the huge gray international super-villain standing there. That would totally spoil the surprise.

Peter changes to Spidey and follows Jacob back to a quiet location to interrogate him. Nah, just kidding, he changes to Spidey and yells out to the Rhino to start a fight. But Rhino is just the bait. The real villain is Bullseye. And we get our first glimpse of the man who in fact seems to be behind Bullseye. Blue face, purple helmet. Looks a bit like Kang, though that would be a bizarre selection of villain for a "detective" style story, so I'm gonna hope I'm wrong on that.

Bullseye joins the fight. Spidey tricks Rhino into charging Bullseye, then into charging a power transformer. He uses the Spanish flag as a toreador's cape. That's a good message of brotherhood. Not. Anyhow, it's all pretty standard stuff. With the super-heroes KO'd Strauss's goons then pull out guns and shoot at the web-head.

Spidey nails the gunslingers then corners Strauss. Under duress, Strauss confesses that he works for A.I.M. He put a parcel on the plane to Scotland this morning. He also admits that he put a parcel under the seat of the light plane flown by Peter's Parents all those years ago.

In General...

So, obviously Peter needs to go to Scotland to follow the trail of his parents.

Or does he? Yet again, there is no link whatsoever between A.I.M's current activities, and their activities fifteen or twenty years ago. Given the way that A.I.M changes their "plan for world domination" every three issues, and the way they cycle through staff and leaders, what possible reason could there be to imagine any link.

It's like saying investigating a twenty year old gang murder by questioning the suspects in a murder that happened last week. Same outfit, similar crime... but no possible logic to suggest any correlation. And yet, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, I just know that these two threads are going to link up - counter to all common-sense.

Well, common-sense is a long way from anything to do with this story.

Overall Rating...

One and a half webs. I really want this inane story line ends soon.