Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Script: Jim Shooter
Pencils: Barry Kitson
Inks: Mark Farmer
Letters: Richard Starkings

Now here's a curiosity - a three-page Spider-Man story, written by the one and only Jim Shooter, but produced and published by Marvel UK!

It also marks a rare occasion when Marvel UK actually seemed quite keen to promote the black costume. Spider-Man's also wearing the original alien version of it in this issue's lead Secret Wars strip, which is nine pages reprinted from the middle of Marvel US' Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #11.

While on a working vacation in England, Peter Parker drops-into the studios of the Wide Awake Club on Saturday morning ITV, where he changes into Spider-Man and battles a shape-changing skrull.

I love that Marvel UK actually lettered one of their own strips with the US spelling of "recognise"!

Presenters Tommy Boyd, James Baker and Arabella Warner are all present and correct, although absent are guests Jim Shooter and Mark Farmer, who actually appeared on the show with Spider-Man in real life.

Inevitably this piece of cross-marketing hearkened back to Spidey's appearance on Saturday Starship a year or so earlier (also presented by Boyd). That time Marvel UK had originated an unprecedented 40-page story around the event.

This time they gave it three.

What really makes this a shame, aside from the absence of any reference to that earlier British epic, is that this issue also crammed-in four brand-new pages of the satirical Marvel's Secret Artist, returning for the first time in a while with a double-bill. Surely if the budget had been there to present seven (non-Zoid) pages of new British comic-strip material for this issue, then I think they should really have all been invested in this rare new Spider-Man story. Who did kids prefer to read about - the Marvel super heroes, or the Marvel staff? Some better planning could have helped here.

Anyhow, were it not for Shooter's authorship, then the canonicity of this brief episode might be in question, but I don't think it is.

Continuity-wise, this has to take place after the Black Cat has furnished Peter with the cloth version of his black costume in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #99, but before the skrulls lose their morphing abilities in the war to end all skrulls. That's a perfectly reasonable window, it's just a shame that the American issues obviously contain no reference to Peter's having taken an English holiday during this period.

Still, there are no actual contradictions in here that I can see. In fact, fitting it in is quite easy. There were so many one-off filler stories during this era, that Web-Slinger Against Changeling! simply takes its place amongst them.

However, I think it makes the most sense after Web Of Spider-Man #1. Having just broken-up with his long-time girlfriend Felicia (in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #100), and then been left with so many unanswered questions after the immediately following final battle with his alien costume, Peter's taking a vacation to clear his head really makes sense here. Donning his duplicate black costume again so soon might seem a bit uncomfortable, but this problem crops up quite quickly with or without this short in the mix.

Anyhow, lest I forget to mention it, Secret Wars Featuring: Zoids #25 also contains a four-page Zoids strip, but that is, as usual, carefully positioned by the staples for easy removal.

Ironically, less than three months later, both Spider-Man and Zoids would be spun-off into their own title together, but that's another story…


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