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 "Time Quest (Part 7 and Part Final): A Time To Live, A Time To Die".
Five super-villains intended to travel back in time to defeat Spider-Man, but instead have become isolated and stranded in random periods throughout time. As the Fantastic Four worked to complete their return from the Negative Zone, Spider-Man and FF robot H.E.R.B.I.E. have been tripping through time collecting up all missing bad guys.
Returning back from 2009 with Doc Ock in tow, Spidey imagined that his previous captures were still bundled up safe and sound in FF headquarters. You can perhaps imagine his discomfort to discover that he and H.E.R.B.I.E. have saved the space-time continuum, but are about to reap their rewards at the hands of the reassembled Sinister Six... all free from their constraints and ready to open a can of whup-ass on our hero.
Before the inevitable battle is joined, Spider-Man asks his newly liberated foes how they escaped. The answer, unfortunately, is "DOCTOR DOOM", announced from the heartless tin-man himself. Yep, it's Doom + Six vs. Spider-Man + H.E.R.B.I.E. the semi-serious cybernetic substitute.
The six make short work of subduing Spidey. Then Doom finishes the exposition he has so clearly been waiting to complete. He explains how the fight that saw Blastaar & Annihilus battle the Fantastic Four (back in Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #173 where this mess started) caused the FF to be dispatched to the negative zone, and the buildings security systems disrupted. So Doom (busy with other stuff at the time) sent Ock and friends to steal some high-tech goodies for him.
That's where we joined the tale. As we know, Ock got greedy and distracted, and fired up the time platform. But Doom (observing Spider-Man's progress by hacking into H.E.R.Bi.I.E.'s communications system) turned up just in time to free the villains once more. Naturally, H.E.R.B.I.E.s emotion circuits get pretty mad at learning that he was made Doom's unwilling accomplice, but Doom gives the robot a nasty zap to silence his electronic objections.
And with that explanation, Doom now informs Spider-Man that he will give the Sinister Six a chance to redeem themselves for their screwup... by killing the web-slinger.
Of course, they had the chance to do that five minutes ago. Why Doom prevaricated, I don't know. In fact, why he delays now I don't know either. But instead of just one-shotting Spider-Man, Doom sets the Sinister Six on the job. That gives us another page and a half of fighting until Spider-Man is once more incapacitated. With this being the third hiatus with the web-slinger at his mercy, Doom now gives the call to "FINISH HIM!!!"
Well, we never do discover if the bad guys possess sufficient cajones to off the crawler, 'cos the Fantastic Four sense their cue and come back from the Negative Zone and it's time for Battle Royal. It's free-for-all for a couple of pages, before Reed decides to get organized. He cooks up a strategy to pick off each of the bad guys. Torch's fire defeats Venom. Sue's bubble contains Sandman. Thing yanks on Ocl's arms. Spidey plays toreador with Rhino, while Electro foolishly tries to suck electricity from an anti-matter machine. Silly boy! We all know that they run on anti-electricity!
The Sinister Six are out for the count, but that leaves Victor von Doom, the baddest of all the bad boys. Doom pulls out his final trump card... an Inhibitor Ray which prevents all humans from harming him. All HUMANS, you note. Of course, H.E.R.B.I.E. ain't human, and he rushes into the fray and destroys the device. That's a pretty well-worn brave-little-robot trick right there. But it does the job.
So Doom pulls out his final, final trump card... a Proton Bomb! Sue Richards uses an invisible bubble to contain the bomb. Not bad going really. For a girl, I mean. But meantime Doom has fled. So the Fantastic Four count the bodies. At least they have the Sinister Five... umm... has anybody seen The Vulture?
Ah, there we go... he's busy raiding the Fantastic Four trophy cabinet. In hindsight, perhaps he should have just used the moment to get clear of the whole mess. The Fantastic Four + Two More (Spidey & brave-little-robot) clean his clock, and it's all over bar the shouting.
The Fantastic Four tell Spidey that if they ever decide to become the Fantastic Five, he wouldn't necessarily be denied a place immediately. Aw... ain't that kind of them. They all make a hand-stack in the middle of a group huddle, including H.E.R.B.I.E.
For a conclusion here, there's really not much to make this story special in any way. Doom is our surprise master-villain, but there's nothing particularly clever in that. He just gets pulled out of thin air and written in to the story. And so?
As for the actual events of the extended battle, there's nothing particularly innovative, interesting or spectacular. The Sinister Six defeat Spider-Man, then talk to him and defeat him again, then talk to him and go to fight him again. Three battles aren't particularly more interesting than one - it just fills up pages, that's all.
The only real "novelty" is H.E.R.B.I.E. being the unwitting Judas, and then the timely savior of the day. Even so, that's a bit of a cliche too. And as for the final punchline with Vulture sneaking off during the fight and getting caught trying to steal the family silver... well, if that's the best we can expect for witty windups...
Stories in this title generally fall into one of two distinct categories - stupid or boring. Well, to be fair, occasionally a tale manages to be both stupid and boring. At least this one is only dull. Let's give this uninteresting offering an uninteresting two-and-a-half, slightly below-par web rating.