Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #282

Background

Each issue in this Panini UK magazine (currently entitled "Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man Magazine", formerly titled "Spectacular Spider-Man" and other names too) is 32 pages being formed of 11 (or so) pages of story (half a comic) plus 20 pages of puzzles, fact-files, and advertainment.

The early issues from 1995 were reprinted stories, but from issue #52 onward, Marvel UK managed to get permission to create original material in the British Isles. The 11 page story then featured original content written and illustrated by UK creators working independently from the main Marvel HQ in the U.S.

That all ended when Disney took over. The last UK-created story was issue #226 in 2011. The magazine promptly re-titled itself as "Spider-Man Magazine" and went back to containing reprints only, and I stopped paying attention. Reprints are easily filed and don't require a review.

That was until issue #282 and this story "Mid-Term Mayhem". I naturally just assumed this was yet another reprint like those that came before. But no matter how and where I searched, I could not figure out from whence this tale was reprinted.

As Conan Doyle wrote:

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

And thus I must conclude that this was a new story from the U.S.-based creative team of Jim Zub and Mario Del Pennino. And thus also, I must (belatedly) review it!

Story 'Mid-Term Mayhem'

  Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) #282
Summary: 24-Dec-2014
Publisher: Panini Magazines
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Assistant Editor: Mark Basso
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Mario Del Pennino
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Sotocolor

Part 1: We open in full action splash page, with a 10-foot venom battling Spider-Man in the university library, and...

...immediately cut back in time to five minutes earlier. Peter Parker is in trouble. Mid-terms are upon him and for one reason (Peter's obligations to Aunt May) or another (Spider-Man's obligations to Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.) he hasn't studied. His only hope is to beg a copy of MJ's study notes and take them to the library to photocopy.

Fellow super/hero/student Sam (a.k.a. Nova) follows Peter to the library, also desperate to get a copy of MJ's wonderful notes. But then Venom spurts out of Sam's shoe, and that's where we began.

Part 2: Mary Jane turns up at the library just in time to see her notes being shredded during the combat.

This naturally makes her furious, and Venom decides to take over a deliciously angry MJ as its new host, ejecting Sam/Nova in the process.

WOAH! I had to flip back a couple of pages. The sequential art is so badly constructed, it wasn't at all clear that Venom took Sam as a host. On a second reading.... I see Venom coming out of Sam's shoe, and then there's a giant Venom and no Sam. So right, I guess Venom absorbed Sam "off-panel".

Having been replaced as a host, Sam is free to transform into Nova and join the fight vs. Mary-Jane Venom. They all scrap for a couple of pages until Spider-Man grabs a power cable exposed by the battle and electrocutes Venom into submission.

MJ is released, albeit somewhat stunned and shocked. The school's power-grid is fried. Principal Coulson has no choice but to postpone mid-terms.

Yay! High Five all 'round for the slacker-heroes!

General Comments

So the story is clearly set in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon universe featuring Iron First, Nova, and White Tiger. Fortunately baby Spider-Man doesn't make a cameo, and there's no breaking of the fourth-wall.

I didn't see any explanation of how Venom got into Sam's shoe. I don't know if MJ knows about Peter's secret, but nobody seems surprised that Spider-Man and Nova are fighting Venom at school.

I guess if I was all up-to-speed with the Ultimate cartoon and the tie-ins, this would make more sense? But as a standalone story, I just found myself just having to assume this is all normal.

Overall Rating

The entire story seemed to happen without me. I felt no connection with it at all. Some people were fighting, and an exam got cancelled.

Other than that, just a weird sense of jamais vu.

Two Webs. Do I know these people?

Footnote

Jamais Vu is "...the phenomenon of experiencing a situation that one recognizes in some fashion, but nonetheless seems very unfamiliar."

Thanks, Wikipedia.