Comics : Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) #20

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This review was first published on: Dec 2010.

Background...

Marvel Heroes is the third UK Spider-Man/Marvel Magazine title from the Panini stable. The others are Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) for early teens, and Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine) for the pre-school market. Marvel Heroes is a recent replacement for the relatively short-lived Rampage (UK) which was also aimed at the mid-late teen market.

This magazine features 36 glossy pages. As the title indicates, the content is 100% Marvel related, and most of the major Marvel Heroes get a look-in from time to time. The audience is clearly early/mid-teens, with plenty of DVD, movie and video-game link-in. Over time, the excessive self-promotion which marred earlier issues was gently scaled back to more acceptable levels.

The established pattern in recent issues was to have a pair of interlinked half-length stories. Most recently this has effectively become one single story with a break in the middle. Sometimes the two halves have separate titles, sometimes not. In any case, the total "story content" of each issue adds up to about fourteen pages. The rest of the content is advertising, puzzles, promos, posters and other filler.

This month features a three-way face-off with Doctor Strange, Hulk and Namor individually facing separate foes, but eventually coming together to battle side by side.

In Detail...

"There Will Be Defenders!"
Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) #20
Apr 2010 : SM Reference
Summary: 21-Apr-2010 (Defenders Story. Spider-Man References)
Publisher:  Panini
Editor:  Ed Hammond
Writer:  Giovanni Spinella
Pencils:  John Charles
Inker:  Julien Hugonnard-Bert
Staff Only
Issue
Review

Part 1: Doctor Strange is battling the Dread Dormammu and the forces of niceness are not doing so well as you might hope. Dormammu seeks the two halves of the "Evil Eye" to create a permanent portal into Earth. One half is in the desert, one under the ocean, and Dormammu sends out agents to seek the parts in order to re-unite the whole. Doctor Strange summons enough strength to summon two defenders, but the spell is partly countered, and the wrong agent is sent to each location.

Part 2: The villainous Tiger Shark seeks the first half of the "Evil Eye" in the ocean depths. The desert-dwelling Hulk is transported to oppose him. The "Evil Eye" is in a long-sunken World War II destroyer, but Hulk changes the rules by throwing the entire ship out of the water and onto the land. Hulk captures the first half of the eye.

Bizarrely impossible elements of this story are:

  • The centuries rusty metal ship being thrown kilometers and not disintegrating on impact.
  • The destroyer's internal access corridor being ten feet wide.
  • An ancient seaman's stripped carcass still in full uniform.
  • The same seaman holding a still shiny and fully-functional missile with an active warhead.

Part 3: Sun-powered villain Solarr seeks the half of the evil eye hidden in the desert, in an abandoned cowboy-era town. Namor struggles to face his foe, since he draws his strength from water. So Namor runs away and dives down a well and along the broad underground stream that feeds it. Then he digs his way up through dozens of feet of rock and earth to break into saloon bar. There he distracts Solarr by activating an old player piano to distract the villain, before launching a sneaking attack. Namor captures the second half of the eye.

Bizarrely impossible elements of this story are:

  • The very existence of an abandoned cowboy-era town with a still-working well.
  • A complete lack of understanding of how the aquifer water-transfer layer works.
  • A player piano still working after several decades abandoned.
  • Namor digging through dozens of feet of earth and arriving unnoticed in the saloon.
  • Namor even knowing where the eye was held... nobody told him!
  • Namor peddling a player piano to get it started, without Solarr noticing him!

Part 4: Namor, Hulk and Doctor Strange battle Dormammu and his demons. They win.

In General...

This really does set a new low point for story writing in this title. It's not just bad writing, it's the complete abandonment of any last vestige of common sense or attachment with any reality. Sure, you can give characters impossible super-powers. Sure these stories often use unlikely co-incidences to setup a series of events. Yeah, they stretch the imagination with magic and super-science.

But if every element of your storyline is impossible and infeasible, then people will just disengage. Good writing means there has to be limits and rules to the abuse of reality. Here's a few rules I think most fantasy writers would accept as sound practice.

  • When you break reality, you must have a reason for it each time.
  • When you break reality, you must then break it consistently throughout the story.
  • When you incorporate "normal" elements in your story, they should behalf normally.

Overall Rating...

Beautifully illustrated. Surely one of the most intellectually insulting stories of the year. One web.