Comics : American Dental Association: Heroes vs. Plaque

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Marvel has a long history of licensing their characters for out for use in specialty comics that can be used to promote either a company's product line, or a pro-social cause. Such is the case with this comicbook, which was licensed to The American Dental Association (ADA), and targeted towards kids to extol the virtues of good dental hygiene.

In Detail...

"When Plaque Attacks!"
American Dental Association: Heroes vs. Plaque
Nov 2005 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man co-stars with Fantastic Four
Editor:  Tom DeFalco
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  Ron Lim
Inker:  Al Milgrom
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Review

As our story opens Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, and The Human Torch are forcibly attempting to drag the fourth member of their little group (The Thing) into the dental office. It seems that the strongest member of The Fantastic Four; who has traveled to the Negative Zone, faced down Glactacus, and gone toe-to-toe with the Incredible Hulk is apparently afraid of going to the dentist. As they are struggling mightily with their good friend, attempting to inform him why good dental care is, well, good for him, who also walks into the office than, our webbed friend, Spider-Man.

Yes, it seems that Spidey uses the same dentist as do the FF. Given that Ben Grimm is something of a orange, rock-encrusted chicken, Spidey gets into the chair first to show his pal that there is really nothing to it. As Dr. Marsha examines Spidey's teeth (he has rolled up his mask so that she can get to his mouth without exposing his full face). As Spidey is in the chair getting examined, the FF watch, and Reid (ever the scientist) explains to everyone about teeth and why we need to take care of them.

Once dr. Marsha is done with Spider-Man, Grimm has now maned-up enough to take his turn, only he never quite gets there as the lights in the office suddenly go off. Reacting quickly, Johnny Storm ignites one of his hands, illuminating the darkness. It is then that they see a spooky-looking fellow who claims to be Professor Plaque. He has grabbed up Dr. Marsha and is leading her to an open window. Plaque has a plan to feed her brainwaves into a fear-inducing machine that will blanket the world, causing children everywhere to become fearful of dentists.

Just as he makes good his escape, Spidey tags him with one of his handy dandy Spider-tracers. The Professor makes good his escape, and heads to the site of an old, now abandoned carnival. While Spidey and the FF are searching for him they continue talking about the importance of healthy teeth. Eventually the heroes find the demented villain who has already begun to make children afraid of dentists so that plaque and tooth decay will spread like wildfire. Never fear, though, as the combined might of Spidey and the FF manage to overcome the threat of Professor Plaque, rescue Dr. Marsha, and make the world safe for dentists everywhere. At the end of the issue, even the Professor has come around and is willing to allow Dr. Marsha to fix his own badly formed teeth, (after, of course she promises that it won't hurt him).

In General...

As with most of these type stories, this tale; preposterous as it may seem; is told in as simple a way as humanly possible so as to be easily read and understood by its target audience, that is to say, young children. The story holds together well enough (although I don't really think that the threat of Professor Plaque required the combined might of all of these august heroes, but I'm betting that a comicbook headlined by Squirrel Girl would hardly carry the same impact). Still, as stated, these aren't meant to be the Kree/Skrull wars, so I suppose that this minor point can be easily disregarded.

Overall Rating...

These stories are generally-speaking fun, and; in addition to having a good, pro-social point, make for an interesting addition to anyone comicbook library.

Footnote...

There is a drawing page at the end, as well as a fact page about dental care.