Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #169

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This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

This long-running UK Magazine started out by running reprints, but these days it offers a brand new "out of continuity" Spider-Man story every three weekly issue.

The Spider-Man story occupies eleven or twelve pages of the 32 page magazine, and is aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. But what is it they say in Hollywood - "Nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of their audience." Clearly that's a maxim the publishers and writers of this particular offering have taken to heart.

The remaining pages of each issue are filled with puzzles, posters and factoids centered around the issues guest star(s), be they heroes or villains. This issue is part two of a storyline featuring Iron Man and Ultron, with a cameo by Titanium Man. This is all quite understandable given the cover date of June 2008 which coincides with the Iron Man movie.

In Detail...

"The Ultron Supremacy!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #169
Jun 2008 : SM Title
Summary: 18-Jun-2008
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  Andie Tong
Inker:  Kris Justice
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Annual (UK) 2013

Spider-Man and Iron Man are fighting Ultron, who gatecrashed a Stark Industries event. Mary Jane (Peter's girlfriend) and Pepper Potts (Tony's assistant) were "safely" hidden away in a safe room, but as our story opens they have tricked the security guards into allowing them to leave the safe zone and join the battle.

Whuh? Huzuh? Yes, MJ and Pepper are worried about their respective boyfriends/employers and MJ has pretended to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to bypass security and enter the combat zone. I'm assuming she doesn't have a fake badge, so that really says something about the quality of Tony Stark's hand-picked security force, eh?

At least we get an explanation from Ultron of why he orchestrated the attack of the preceding issue. Seems that after Ultron's corporal destruction, his mind lived on. Ultron's mind force occupied Titanium Man's shell, then cause a battle to distract everybody for five minutes while he used Stark's regular robots to create a new Ultron body out of Adamantium. Wow. Even artificial intelligences can't resist a good old monologue, eh?

It's a pretty lame excuse for the battle... personally, I would have waited until 2am and just had the robots quietly rebuild my body while nobody was looking. No fuss, no muss. But at least it's an attempt at an explanation, so let's give a little credit on that point.

Moving back to center stage, Ultron has explained his plan, so he can now resume the attack. Titanium Man is now back in control of his armor, and is angry at Ultron, so its Spidey + IM + TM versus Ultron. Iron Man has a counter-plan... he's gonna use the Vibranium Disruptor! OH NOES! Not the Vibranium Disruptor!

But how is Spider-Man going to fetch the Vibranium Disruptor? Fortunately he doesn't need to. MJ and PP (that's PP = Pepper Potts) overheard the conversation, and in the time it takes Ultron and Iron Man to exchange three sentences, the teenage girls have gone to the Stark Armory (conveniently handy to the Stark Ballroom) and used Pepper's security pass to fetch the Vibranium Disruptor.

Please don't ask me while a secretary has access to the Stark Armory. Also please don't ask me how two teenage girls can carry a solid-looking metal device that's about the size of a motor scooter. Finally, please don't ask me how they can do all of this in the apparent 30 seconds of time in the four panels or so which elapsed between Iron Man's mention of the Vibranium Disruptor and the girls returning lugging the aforementioned over-sized device.

Spidey zaps Ultron with the Vibranium Disruptor, and has some impact... until Ultron activates his Molecular Rearranger. Iron Man counters with his Chest Repulsor beam, but it isn't powerful enough. All seems lost until Titanium Man offers his assistance. Spider-Man naturally expresses doubt about a lying Commie bastard helping decent god-fearing Americans. Then the decent American folk show their depth of character by accepting help from the Ruskie scumbag, and Ultron is defeated. Thus endeth the morality tale.

And that nearly endeth the tale entire, save for our final scene. Spider-Man and Iron Man agree that maybe Titanium Man can get quietly shipped back to Russia since it wasn't his fault he got mind-controlled by Ultron. Then Peter and Tony return to their civilian identities and sneak back to the girls. Peter jokes that he thinks Tony is Spider-Man, and Tony laughs about Peter being Iron Man. Heh, nice touch.

But when the girls demand credit for helping save the day, the boys tell them off for putting themselves in danger, and say that the red-headed duo should have left things to the professionals. At that, the girls get peeved and it seems that while the heroes might have saved the day, neither one is getting any hot lovin' tonight. Aww...

In General...

There's certainly more of a plot in this issue, even if it's not a very credible one. Even more astounding is the creative use of the characters. I don't ever recall seeing MJ and Pepper Potts team up before. MJ and Lois Lane, yes, but not MJ and Pepper as far as I can remember. The Peter/Stark/MJ/Pepper angle is handled creatively all around, and that's worth some credit.

Overall Rating...

The Ultron explanation is shallow and hard to believe, but the supporting cast is well handled. Let's call it 2 webs plot and 4 webs characterization, making an overall three webs.

Footnote...

Ultron is the main character in the puzzles, coloring pages, posters, quizzes and info fact files which pad out the rest of this magazine.