Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #180
This review was first published on: 2009.
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 are aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. The plots for these stories feature classic Marvel characters and villains, and often echo plots from the mainstream comics, but in their own special style.
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's story is something fresh and new, following last issue's conclusion of the 7-part Sinister Six "Time Quest" arc.
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #180
Feb 2009 : SM Title
The story begins with not one, but two perilous prologues! In prologue part one, Kraven the Hunter is in the Congo Rainforest, where he defeats the last of a line of giant spiders. Defeating his eight-legged foe, he holds aloft the stinger which contains enough neurotoxin to paralyze a herd of elephants, or hopefully at least one Spider-Man.
In prologue part two, Spider-Woman (formerly private eye, now costumed agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is chasing the snaky villain Cobra. The bad guy is about to slide out of the scene, when Spider-Man throws in a web from the sidelines to end the chase. Those spider-types gotta stick together, eh?
Jump to the current day. Kraven is in New York, huntin' him some Spidey-Man. He manages to tag our hero with a neurotoxin dart. But instead of making his web-headed prey weaker, it makes Spidey stronger. Too strong, in fact... Spidey starts popping out spines and growing multi-faceted eyes. The Spider-Man-Spider captures Kraven easily, then drags him off to a deserted warehouse... presumably to store his prey for a while before eating him. Yikes!
Fortunately for Kraven, Spider-Woman just happened to be hanging around on a nearby rooftop, where she caught enough of a view of the events to know that things weren't right. She follows the pair to the warehouse, then joins battle with the clearly not-his-normal-self Spider-Man. In the end, Spider-Woman needs to unload a full-blown venom blast to KO the Spider. As he slumps, Spider-Man-Spider mumbles the name of Doctor Curt Connors.
Well, if that's not a clue, I don't know what is. Spider-Woman grabs one of Kraven's darts, plus the Spider-Man, and tracks down Connors in the phone book. Presumably in the yellow pages, under "Super Scientists". Connors manufactures an anti-venom, and restores our hero to his normal self, before Spider-Man becomes an eight-legged beastie, perhaps permanently!
The science-man has saved the day for Spider-Man. But who will save Connors from the ceaseless murmuring voice of the Lizard which rises up from deep within his very being...?
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with this story. Certainly, coincidences abound as the characters encounter each other at the right moments - but no more or less than you'll find in pretty much every super-hero team-up tale.
I must admit I was expecting the Cobra to turn up again in the main story, since he appeared in the prologue, but I guess his only role there was to get Spider-Woman out on the streets where she could meet her future co-star.
My only real complaint here was the completely simplistic linear nature of the main story left very little sense of conflict or expectancy. Kraven jabs Spider-Man with the dart, causing Spider-Man to turn into a Man-Spider, until he is taken to Curt to be cured. At no stage is there any real obstacle to the story, nothing around which any sense of tension can be constructed. Spider-Man's victory over Kraven is simply achieved in a couple of panels. Curt's cure of our hero is equally a trivial matter.
All the right elements are present, and writer Ferg Handley doesn't fall into his usual bad habits of either (a) relying on a sequence of completely improbable co-incidences, and/or (b) riddling the story with daft plot holes. Instead, he just forgets to add any drama to the main body of the story.
I give this one a very ordinary three average webs.
The usual mix of filler material is present, with naturally heavy emphasis given to Kraven and Spider-Woman.