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.
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. Currently we're in the midst of "Bad New Day", a story arc which has seen Spider-Man framed as a criminal and (along with part-time-good-guys Black Cat, Molten Man, Prowler and White Tiger) dropped into the hands of the New York Police.
But who could be behind such a dastardly deed? Well, it looks like Kingpin is the responsible reprobate in question, with help from his flunkies Tombstone and (welcomed back this issue according to the cover) Chameleon.
After a one page recap courtesy of Wilson Fisk's email inbox, we're back into the story. The cops have five super-powered heroes surrounded. Hmm. Are they really sure this is such a good idea? For example, purely hypothetically, Prowler could fire a bunch of smoke bombs, allowing Molten Man to go into melted mode, rendering him bullet-proof.
Add a quick web-wall between the heroes and New York's finest, and suddenly all of the heroes could, in theory, be shimmying down a hastily spun web-line out of the nearest window. But then what? The Avengers still have Spidey on notice to hand himself in, and the cops have just gone from "unsympathetic" to "downright hostile".
Well, Hobie Brown (the Prowler) suggests that there could be some evidence on the "central server" at Fisk Tower. The guys don't have much else to go on, so before ya know it, the newly christened "Fantastic Five" are off to see what's happening "Chez Kingpin".
So, guided by Prowler, the team head to the sewers under Fisk Tower. Molten Man burns his way through into the building, and Black Cat and the Prowler's technical know-how to sneak past security into the main server room. Spidey's Spider-Sense says everything is "all clear" all the way... so does this all seem a little too easy to you? Well, if you want the explanation for that, I guess you could ask Kingpin. He's waiting there with Tombstone and a bunch of hired bozos.
But... how? How could he have known what The Prowler would suggest. Umm... maybe because that's not the Prowler. It's The Chameleon wearing a Prowler suit. Oh boy. But what about Spidey's Spider-Sense? Ah... that gas that Tombstone used on him last issue knocked out his super-sensory-perception. Nice touch!
Full marks to Wilson Fisk. He gets to hand out a beating to the "wanted" heroes, and will probably get a medal for doing so. Oh, he's such a rotter! But again, maybe he's been a little cocky. After all, the four heroes (Chameleon doesn't like bloodshed, so he heads off for an early shower) are more than a match for Tombstone plus goons. Especially when Kingpin just sits back and watches. Just give them a couple of pages, and... yep, hired help suitably disposed of. Now to deal with Kingpin and...
...the Wrecking Crew? Who the heck invited THEM to the party?
I'm not sure how many years Ferg Handley has been writing for Spectacular UK, but I think I'm going to have to put this down as the high-point of his otherwise un-high-lit career to date. This issue has twists and surprises galore. Plus, there's not a single plot-hole or weak characterization to mention. This is eleven pages of all-round fun that sets us up beautifully for the upcoming conclusion.
I've always said that web ratings are relative to the context, and compared to the preceding fifty-plus issues of... well... is "rubbish" too strong a word? Anyhow, relative to what has gone before, this is pure genius.
I'm going to hand out a full five webs, in the full knowledge that it can't be sustained, and the consequent collapse will be all the more devastating.
Standard filler. Couple of pages of in-house advertising, a double coloring spread, some pull-out posters, some puzzles and fact-files for Chameleon and Tombstone. Wrap up with fan art, photos and such.