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 we saw Spider-Man bundle Carnage away tidily after a seven page slug fest, while Peter had some romantic good luck with Mary Jane. This time around, well, I see Juggernaut co-star on the cover along with Kitty "You Can't Touch This" Pryde. The Intractable vs. the Intangible. Could be a long fight.
We open at X-Men central. The X-Folks are just back from a mission to clear Sentinels from the Savage Land. No, I have no idea why the Sentinels would be down in Antarctica, but I guess there's plenty of stories we could cook up. But the most important aspect here is that Kitty Pryde, as a Junior X-Person is in trouble for stowing away and joining the mission uninvited. The sexy-as-ever Storm grounds the dowdy-looking Ms. Pryde for a month as punishment.
Naturally, the first thing Kitty does is gather her stuff and run away. I have no issues with that, it makes perfect sense to me. Packing up her troubles in her old kit bag she heads for the bright lights of Manhattan. Rather less sensibly, she forgets to bring any cash. D'oh! Still, help isn't far away. Her fellow X-Men, Iceman and The Beast have noticed her absence and are on her trail, hoping to bring her back before Professor Xavier and Storm notice that she has even gone.
So far so good. But now it's time to bring on the extra complications. For example, how about a mass super-villain jail break, including Juggernaut among the escaped uber-felons. Excellent! Juggernaut starts a rampage in New York City, and Kitty (aka Shadowcat) leaps in to deal with him. How? Well, that's a damn good question, as this version of Kitty seems to be a bit useless.
While mainstream (universe 616) Kitty can kill and wound by solidifying objects inside her opponent, this UK version seems entirely impotent. Worse, for some reason she has a fatal weakness, any contact with metal such as Juggie's helmet seems to incapacitate her. It's not surprising that the X-Men leave her behind, this girl is a massive liability and nothing else!
Suddenly... SPIDER-MAN! Yeah, he was out and about, swinging around mopping up escapees when he stumbled across the scene. He leaps in and distracts Juggernaut from finishing off Shadowcat, then spends the next two pages trying to avoid being smashed by Jugg-head. Kitty spends most of those two pages getting in Spider-Man's way and generally being useless. However, I get the suspicion that this is all just a set-up to have her save the day at the end.
But before that can happen, Bobby Drake (Iceman) and Hank McCoy (Beast) arrive on the scene. They also spend a page making no impact at all on the villainous unstoppable behemoth until Hank calls a "time-out" for all four heroes to get together and figure out some sort of battle plan before anybody gets badly hurt.
The plan goes like this: Spidey and Beast taunt the J-Man across a few blocks to the waterfront and on to a pier. Kitty phases Juggernaut (by touching his foot, not his metal helmet this time) and drops him into the water. Once he's in the water, Iceman freezes him and the surrounding district into a giant over-sized ice-block. The police turn up and cut out a slab small enough to take away by helicopter, while the four good guys get together and Kitty finally understands that if she wants to succeed, she needs to learn to be a team player.
Back at the X-Mansion, we learn that Professor X knew all along that Kitty had run away, but wanted the team to sort it out for themselves. Meanwhile, Kitty is on laundry duty, dealing with Wolverine's socks. Ouch!
I really struggle with morality tales in my comic books. But despite the wholesome message I have to admit that this was a well-constructed story. Every character served a purpose, every scene built towards the conclusion, and (for once) there were no inexplicable events or fundamental omissions.
Sure, Kitty's powers were treated a little strangely, but I think we can put that aside in the big picture. Overall, this is solid writing and it fit well into the 11 page format for this magazine.
Nice one guys. Four webs.