Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #163
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 eleven-page story.
This issue supposedly concludes the current "Peter's Parents and A.I.M." story line, and also features plenty of guest stars. Wolfsbane and Union Jack hang over from last issue. Black Widow turns up, as do Nick Fury and Iron Man. Villains feature countless A.I.M. flunkies, plus M.O.D.O.K, and... umm Iron Man. Iron Men, to be exact.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #163
Feb 2008 : SM Title
Spidey, Union Jack and Wolfsbane are hanging from wrist manacles. Wolfsbane still looks hot. They come conscious simultaneously, which is convenient for our plot line. The A.I.M. guys are about to push the "mind-wipe" button, but suddenly one of them KO's the others. Hey, cool, it's the Black Widow! All of a sudden, Wolfsbane is no longer the hottest redhead dressed in a leather bodysuit in the room. Sorry, lass.
M.O.D.O.K. unleashes his mindzap. This time Spidey has time to (a) warn everybody, then (b) dodge. Guess he turned his Spider-Sense on this time. Spider-Man diverts M.O.D.O.K.'s next mind blast so that it destroys a chunk of the ceiling instead.
A mind blast? Destroys the ceiling? Mental wave defeats concrete and steel beam. Nice.
M.O.D.O.K. decides now is a good moment to explain his master plan, since the battle is not currently going his way. Err... why would he do that? He explains that he has a computer virus in S.H.I.E.L.D. which is passing on all their secrets to him.
Spidey makes M.O.D.O.K. mad, then reaches over and opens a little hatch in the back of M.O.D.O.K.'s head and pulls out the wire that powers his armor. No, seriously. Damn clever idea, really. I wonder how often that happens to Iron Man. So, game over? No, not really. Look up through the hole in the roof, Spidey! Iron Men!
Yeah, this was M.O.D.O.K.'s master plan. He stole all of Iron Man's old suits and shipped them from the U.S. to the U.K. Then reverse engineered them, broke all the protection codes, re-activated them, and now plans to use them to... CONQUER BRITAIN! MUAHAHAHA!
Britain? Really? Why not... Brazil? Brazil has a GDP only slightly smaller than the UK. And while Britain has several dozen A-class super-heroes, all Brazil has defending it is, umm... some really good football players?
But no, Britain it is. That's the plan, and let's stick with it.
Spidey fights the Iron Men. Union Jack, Wolfsbane and Black Widow seem to have vanished. No problems, 'cos the real Iron Man turns up. More fighting, then all the Iron Men are defeated when Iron Man uses a fail-safe shut-down code. Well, nearly all of 'em. Black Widow, UJ and WB suddenly re-appear. Black Widow uses "Da" instead of "Yes" in a sentence so that we all know she's really a Russian. There's yer gesture to pan-Eurasian multi-culturalism. Blink and you missed it.
Peter then checks the A.I.M. computer. With no passwords, it takes him sixty seconds on an unfamiliar high-tech system under a pile of rubble and he finds a 20-year old top, top, top, secret file that proves beyond all doubt that his parents were double-agents.
Wait, hang on. They were S.H.I.E.L.D. double agents. And yet Nick Fury's team can't find any records of that fact on their S.H.I.E.L.D. system. But the villain's computer system contained the S.H.I.E.L.D. records? Does that make any sense to ANYBODY?!?
And why did Spidey get dragged through all that mess anyhow? Natasha was already a spy inside A.I.M. And she's a real spy. So why couldn't she just look up the info?
I call BULLSHIT! Double-BULLSHIT with whipped cream on top!
Peter returns home. Big huggie kisses with MJ and Aunt May. Bottom right panel of page 26 features quite probably the most messed-up depiction of Aunt May's face ever printed in a Marvel comic. I'll have to scan that in so you can see how crappy it is.
Finally there's a soppy "Epilogue" of Richard and Mary Parker being seen off walking down a boarding gate at JFK airport. They can't shake the sense of worry, but they know little Petey is in good hands with Ben and May. After all, Ben's always saying what Pop Parker used to say, that whole Power/Responsibility stuff. Meh, milk it for all it's worth, why dontcha!
Is it too much to ask that a seven issue story arc be... a "series of logically connected events?" I mean, seriously here... a "series of events" just is not sufficient.
The storyline of the last seven issues didn't just insult my intelligence, it gathered its friends and stood around in a circle drinking beer and kicking my intelligence as it lay huddled on the ground. Then it recorded the whole thing on a cellphone video camera and uploaded it to YouTube.
This is insult, injury, and fuzzy MP4 humiliation. One web.