Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #193

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This review was first published on: Aug 2010.

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. This is Spidey's primary UK non-reprint magazine. He also appears in the pre-school Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine), along with occasional guest appearances in Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine).

The Spider-Man story occupies eleven or twelve pages of this 32 page publication, and is aimed at a pre-teen/early-teen market. The plots for these stories feature classic Marvel characters and villains. While they often echo plots from the mainstream comics, they do so in their own special style.

Last issue saw the return of Norman and Harry Osborn. Quick version: Norman is the Green Goblin, and may know Peter's secret. Norman's son Harry is Peter's friend and spent a lot of time in therapy after his dad attempted to turn him into Green Goblin, Jr.

In Detail...

"Family Crisis"
Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #193
Nov 2009 : SM Title
Summary: 04-Nov-2009
Editor:  Patrick Bishop
Script:  Ferg Handley
Pencils:  Carlos Gomez
Inker:  Gary Erskine
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Review

Hang on a minute. Wasn't Norman supposed to be dead? Well, naturally he survived his battle with Spider-Man. Now he has returned, explaining that he had to go into hiding after being threatened by Spidey. Note that only Peter knows that Norman Osborn = Green Goblin. As far as the public is concerned, Norman is just a successful businessman. Hey, I don't need to explain any of this. It's just like the regular universe Green Goblin was for nearly four decades.

So Norman is back. Peter goes round to Harry's apartment to meet Osborns both. Norman is relatively polite - at least, as polite as his fundamentally unpleasant personality allows. More than that, Norman makes no mention of knowing Peter's secret. Maybe things are going to be just fine after all.

Heh, like heck. Days later, Harry and Peter are heading for coffee and donuts when Green Goblin turns up. "What are you waiting for, Spider-Man. Get into costume..." he says.

But here's the kicker. Norman thinks that Harry is secretly Spider-Man. Now that's a nice twist. Of course, Harry isn't. He and Peter do a runner. But the Green Goblin challenges Harry to meet him at midnight tomorrow... "you know the place".

Hmm... really? Brooklyn Bridge? Nope. Oscorp! Nope, not there either. Oh, right. At Norman's empty tomb. Silly me. Well, at least Spidey guessed. And sure enough. Goblin is there too. They fight. And talk.

Spider-Man wants to know why Goblin thinks he (Spider-Man) is Harry. Well, Goblin explains how he went to visit Harry last issue, saw Spider-Man (actually Peter) leaving the apartment, and then Harry didn't answer the doorbell (actually Harry was asleep). It's a clever piece of misdirection. Full marks for that one. Of course, there's also the question of Spider-Man being in New York all while Harry was in Florida. That is conveniently explained by the Spider-Man robot double which was exposed as having committed all the crimes for which Spider-Man was framed (in the Bad New Day arc).

Now, that arc lasted three issues, while it's been forty issues since Harry left. That makes it a pretty lousy justification. But then again, the Goblin's a certified fruitcake, and people believe what they want to believe. Let's give him a pass on this one.

Well... there's three more pages of fighting as Spider-Man tries to convince Norman that Harry is not the one wearing the red and blue costume. The Green Goblin unmasks himself. But how can Spider-Man prove himself to not be Harry without showing exposing his own identity. Ah, here's a plan. Spider-Man hands over a cell phone and tells Norman to ring Harry. He does so and gets Harry to answer a question that only he could answer. Problem solved. Norman flies off in a rage, and the next morning has returned to his business empire as if nothing had happened.

Peter meanwhile, is still nervous. As he should be.

In General...

Hang on a minute. If Norman was convinced that a robot could take Spider-Man's place for six months, maybe it was that self-same robot that the Green Goblin was fighting all the while?

Also, the night chosen for the fight was Halloween. Ooooh... what a spooky coincidence! And a completely irrelevant one. There's enough stretched coincidences in these stories without adding completely pointless ones just for atmosphere.

Overall Rating...

Despite those two minor flaws, the rest of the tale was perfectly serviceable. The "Spider-Man is Harry" twist was novel enough to give a little bit of originality to what would otherwise have been a rather ordinary story. Let's give it a solid three webs.