Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Immediately before The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #18: The Scorpion Takes A Bride, the amazing Spider-Man spent a week in England.

Friday 28th October to Wednesday 2nd November 1984, if Peter Parker's diary is to be believed.

Really – for four weeks we in Britain got a brand new original Spidey tale, courtesy of Mike Collins, Barry Kitson, Mark Farmer, Jerry Paris, Mike Scott, Ian Rimmer, John Higgins and Bob Wakelin of Marvel UK. It appeared in Marvel UK's Spider-Man Weekly issues #607 thru #610.

In part one, Spider-Man (or Spiderman as he's occasionally mis-spelt) gets headhunted in New York to appear on a British kids' TV show, by employees utilising a Spider-signal, no less...

Then, according to the editorial in #608, on Saturday 29th October he actually did appear on the TV show in real life! That must have been a cool thing to watch if you were buying the mag. All this, and one of Doctor Who's future companions presenting the show too! (Bonnie Langford)

In the remaining three issues, Spidey has the requisite battles at public landmarks with a puppet cyborg called Assassin-8, whilst doing temp work as Peter Parker at the Bugle's sister paper the Daily Herald...

And there are in-jokes aplenty. Apart from beaming-in Mr Spock, (above, bottom-left) that "Frankie says plow wright" t-shirt he's wearing above is a reference to Frank Plowright - the organiser of the UKCAC comic convention (sorry if that's a tautology) at the time.

He even fits in some sightseeing!

It's a lovely meshing of Spidey's usual fare with Marvel UK's slightly darker, more psychological tone, and it all feels very positive for the mag's future. It's obvious that the creators were hoping that this pilot tale would springboard a whole series of British adventures for the webslinger, set in a country where Spider-Man is, unusually, seen as a hero, rather than as a menace.

And making sure it all sank in, the whole tale was enhanced each week on the editorial page with recaps courtesy of Peter Parker's diary...

The last episode in issue #610 was even accompanied by a questionnaire asking readers what they had thought of the story, and whether they wanted to see more of the same.

As mentioned above though, the following week would see a return to the regular US reprints, so the final UK-produced panels, set back in New York, were scripted to carefully segue into that:

But that's not all. The US artwork was also touched-up, with Assassin-8 being snuck fairly prominently (if that's not a contradiction) into the following reflective panel:

(a comparison with the original US panel is here)

For whatever reason however, barring a further Britain-based Marvel UK Spidey short a year later in Secret Wars #25, it just didn't take. Six months on Spider-Man Weekly had entered its dumbed-down death-throes, and the mag would just never be the same again.

Which is a shame, as the city of London felt like a real friendly neighbourhood for Spider-Man.

(Comic images in this post are copyright Marvel, and were used according to 'fair use' laws)


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