Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #162

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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.

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 eleven-page story. This issue features TWO guest stars, Wolfsbane and Union Jack.

In Detail...

"Local Hero"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #162
Jan 2008 : SM Title
Summary: 23-Jan-2008
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  Andie Tong
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Review

Peter Parker aka Spider-Man has been winging his way around Europe following the huge clues that have conveniently fallen at his feet every five pages or so. Clues which involve A.I.M. and the death and subsequent framing of his parents. At least Peter and Nick Fury assume they were framed, though the rest of the world believes them traitors to their nation.

The incredibly unlikely good fortune which causes these random encounters shows no sign of stopping. My suggestion to Panini is that they simply rename the magazine to "The Spectacular Longshot" and have done with it.

Last issue saw Spider-Man in Spain, where he stumbled on a secret shipment of... something... to do with A.I.M. Nick has sent him to Edinburgh on the trail. Gee, it's a big city. I wonder what the chance is of Spidey randomly encountering the next clue? About one hundred and ten percent.

Peter's flight to London is diverted to Gatswick. He stays at Tunbridge Wells, then takes the train to Edinburgh. Why? How does this advance the story? Well, it doesn't really. But it adds local color. On the train, he reads the paper. There's a werewolf in Edinburgh. It's on the front page of a British newspaper. People have been going missing.

Arriving in Scotland, Spidey spends three nights searching for... ummm... a crate from Spain. In Edinburgh.

Dammit, this is the same kind of stupid stuff which has been a continual feature of this current "plot" line. Spider-Man expects to turn up in a huge capital city, then just swing around until he sees the A.I.M. guys, or stumbles on a super-villain conflict which will lead him to the next clue. I mean, I might have accepted one random coincidence to kick off the whole business. But issue after issue after issue we're subjected to this silliness.

Peter doesn't find anything in the three first panels. So he calls MJ to say hi. He's still super-sweet on her, even though technically they're not a couple. He tells her that his science scholarship visit is going great. That was his cover story. Nice to see them bear that in mind. Then he hits the streets again, and spots the werewolf right away. Well, we did have a half-page of anticipation.

He also spots Union Jack. No, not Captain Jack from the Billy Joel song. This is the British super-hero wearing the flag thing. UJ... may I call him UJ? Well, UJ is on the trail of the werewolf, and he's packing silver nitrate darts. Spidey tries to tell UJ that the werewolf is Wolfsbane, the New Mutant aka Rahne Sinclair. But UJ tasers the web-head. Where's yer Spider-Sense now, eh?

UJ catches up with Rahne, but shoots his mouth off instead of his dart gun, giving Spidey enough time to arrive and intervene. Yes, that's right. With Spider-Man the hero, he shoots first and talks later. With the deadly werewolf killer it's talk-time up front and shooties can wait. But Spidey's there now. Rahne is revealed, and the obligatory "fight each other" half of the team-up formula is now complete.

Rahne has been on the trail of some disappearances, which all happened around "the old infirmary". So that's where they all go. They walk in, round a few corners and discover a high-tech A.I.M. research centre amidst the abandoned rooms. It contains at least one machine that's a good 80 feet high. Gee, I wonder how they sneaked that in to the deserted building without anybody becoming suspicious?

UJ, SM and WB fight A.I.M. for 2 pages. They finally knock out the last A.I.M. agent. Then they find the crates. Of course.

Then they turn around and M.O.D.O.K. is there with another fifty bad guys. I guess they sneaked in, during the 60 seconds Spidey and friends were looking at the crates. M.O.D.O.K. activates a "zap all good guys not bad guys" device. It works like a magical plot device. Nifty, eh? Again, so much for spider-sense!

M.O.D.O.K. kills the three heroes on the spot.

No, not really. The Edinburgh base has been compromised. So A.I.M.'s going to move everything to the London base. They're gonna take the heroes and attempt to brainwash them. Silly me. Of course.

In General...

No clue about how the "missing persons" tie to A.I.M. Did they stumble on the secret base and get killed? Not surprising if they did, there's no indication of the heroes actually having to break into the old infirmary. They just wander in, and there's the whole secret base lit up like a bonfire full of billion-dollar hardware.

Or did A.I.M. kidnap them for some reason? If so, it's pretty silly to kidnap people where, quote "each time the trail goes cold, it leads to the Old Infirmary." Well, I guess A.I.M. isn't very clever. Nobody is in this story.

The rest of the mag is filled with the usual collateral damage. A one-page story intro. 1 page UJ profile. 1 page ad for Spidey toys. 2 page "Spidey's top 5 weapons" (actually weapons used by other people, not by Spidey). 2 pages puzzles, 1 coloring page, 1 poster page, 2-page centerfold poster, 2 page "Brit Pack" profiles, 1 page comprehension quiz, 1 page sketch, 2 page "Are you A.I.M. material" test-yourself quiz, 2 pages of letters, and a last puzzle page. Inner back cover is promo for next issue, and back cover is a poster.

Overall Rating...

Rahne calls UJ an "English Numpty". Heh, that's funny. And the "A.I.M. NEEDS YOU!" quiz is kind of funny too.

The story is kind of dumb, but no dumber than the preceding five. Rahne is hot, if you like the "shaved redhead in a one-piece bathing suit" look.

So, what does that add up to? Add six, minus eleven... let's say... two webs.