Comics : Target Presents: Reading to the Rescue (2005)
This review was first published on: 2006.
Over the years Marvel has partnered with various pro-social groups and corporations producing quite a number of "specialty" comics utilizing the various Marvel characters to promote specific causes or products. One of these companies that has co-sponsored comics with Marvel tying their product and/or cause with the Marvel's heroes has been Target. To date, Target has sponsored at least five comics with Marvel, three supporting literacy (reading) one with Target/St. Jude's Hospital: America's Super Heroes and one with the NCPCA, NCPCA - Spider-Man/Jubilee Flip Book which featured two stories about coping with bullies.
Spider-Man, along with fellow Avengers Captain America, Wolverine, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman along with the Fantastic Four require the help of a group of children need to defeat Kang the Conqueror. The children utilize their love of reading to help best the time- spanning villain.
Target Presents: Reading to the Rescue (2005)
Year 2005 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
The day starts out with the Avengers and the FF celebrating National Night Out (no I don't know what it is either). Actually, What the superheroes the cops and the firefighters are pledging is to keep neighborhoods safe by caring and building community relations amongst the citizens and those pledged to protect them. Also present are our three littlest heroes, Russ, Sharon, and Austin.
As the ceremony progresses and the kids ogle their heroes, Kang makes his grand entrance, spouting about how three of their number will grow up to defeat him in the future. As it turns out it is Russ, Sharon, and Austin who Kang has targeted, and he transports them to various time periods. Only before they are shifted in time, four heroes manage to leap to their aid (Cap with Russ, Spidey and Invisible Woman with Sharon and Luke Cage with Austin).
Cap and Russ are sent back to the Stone Age and wind up tussling with a bunch of Cro-Magnon cave men. Spidey, Sue Storm and Sharon wind up in ancient Egypt, while Luke and Austin wind up some 63 years in the past in 1942. While Cap distracts the Cro-Magnons Russ uses Cap's shield to ski down a slope into a cave where he reads some paintings on the wall and figures something out. In Egypt, Sue uses her invisibility power to hide the three of them from the Egyptians. Once hidden Sharon deciphers some hieroglyphics. Meanwhile in '42 Austin reads a Captain America comic book while Cage protects him for the dangers of that era.
In the present, the rest of the heroes go up against the time-traveling villain while Mr. Fantastic and Wolverine sneak into Kang's ship in an attempt to find a way to defeat him. What they find is a library of books. Mr. Fantastic determines that the manual is among them somewhere. While they are looking over the books, several citizens approach and offer their help, Wolverine tells them to start sifting through the books to find the operating manual.
One of the citizens locates the operating manual and Mr. Fantastic manages to retrieve all three children and four heroes. Then, relying on information from Russ, Sharon, and Austin they dress Cage up in a spare Kang costume who tricks Kang into believing that he (Cage) is a future version of Kang, and then zaps him with his own time machine and sends him so far into the past that he won't be any trouble to them.
Spidey reflects that not only did the defeat Kang, but hopefully their trips to the past will be thought of as hallucinations, and no one will really remember them. Only the last three panels show that the Egyptians, Cro- Magnons, and comic book artists of the '40s will all remember the visits of the heroes and add them to their own illustrated adventures (the last in the form of the comic that we are currently reading).
The book is fun, entertaining and educational; a perfectly-crafted medium to float the message of literacy for a younger audience. I am a huge fan of companies tapping Marvel for the use of their heroes to float these types of pro-social messages. I honestly believe that by presenting these types of issues in this type f a format makes them more accessible to their intended audience.
As a collector, I especially like these books in general and this series in particular as these specialty books provide us not only with a very cool collectible, but the opportunity to hunt around and to acquire them for our own collections. All of which makes the owning of them even sweeter.
There is a two-page crossword puzzle in the center of the comic, a word search on the double-gatefold back cover, and as a pair of coupons for any marvel comic at Target, and a couple of Target-related ads in the comic.