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.
After a few years of disappointing plots and scripts, the preceding twelve months of this title has seen a general improvement in story quality, with the exception of a few obligatory "Iron Man" movie tie-ins which have felt decidedly forced. This month features yet another appearance from Sandman, a popular villain in this title.
College kid Peter Parker (a.k.a. everybody's favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man) is walking along the pavements of Forest Hills, New York late one night, heading home alone. The evening's fun with his favorite girl Mary-Jane Watson and the rest of the gang is still fresh in his mind, when his spider-sense suddenly goes haywire.
The cause of this unexpected danger is quickly revealed to be one Flint Marco, aka Sandman. Peter is immediately on the defensive, expecting that Flint has discovered his secret identity, and expecting Sandman to launch a violent attack. But instead, the threat is more insidious. Flint wishes to have words with Peter Parker, and is demanding that Peter pay him back-dated royalties for all the times he has sold Sandman photos to the Daily Bugle over the years.
Well, Peter obviously doesn't have enough money from the stingy rates Jonah offers, and he's completely unable to pay the $10,000 that Flint demands. Plus he kind of reckons that super-villains don't really deserve to earn royalties on action news photos taken of them in the act of committing crimes. But that's a point he doesn't push too hard in his civilian identity.
Peter spends the next week (the deadline that Sandman gave him) mooching around worrying about what to do. He's worried about what will happen to Aunt May if Sandman starts seeking revenge on Peter. His friends Harry, Flash, MJ and Liz try to cheer him up, but with little success. And before ya know it, the time is up and one rainy afternoon sees Peter Parker off to meet Sandman. Except of course it's Spider-Man that swings in for the confrontation, not Peter.
Now, knowing of the friendship between Peter and Spidey, Sandman is expecting exactly that. Thus it is that when our friendly web-headed hero arrives at Central Park for the face-off, Sandman isn't alone. He has a hostage... Flash Thompson to be exact. Peter kicks himself. He was too busy moping to worry about taking care of his friends. So, now what's he going to do?
Flash preempts that question by slipping out from his jacket and running away from Sandman, towards Spidey. The two of them then make a run for it, and Spider-Man leads the chase into the sewers where they play a deadly game of hide-and-seek with Flint Marco. Managing to keep one step ahead of their gritty foe, Spider-Man and Flash eventually lead Sandman into a trap. Sandman is lured into a water overflow area and Spider-Man opens the flush valve. Hey presto, instant Sandman-slurry.
Fearful of being washed out to sea, Sandman begs for mercy. Spidey persuades Sandy to lay off hassling Peter Parker, and then keeps him suitably liquefied until the cops arrive. It's a tidy victory for the good guys.
The Sandman is an incredibly versatile villain, and this is another example of an original story featuring this classic Spidey foe. Writer Ferg Handley assembles a solid script, and the artistic team back him up well.
A tidy, standalone story. A perfect example of the kind of stuff that well suits an independent, out of continuity kids magazine like UK Spectacular. Three and a half webs.