Comics : Amazing Spider-Man: Saves New York (Ladybird)

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: Aug 2011.

Background...

Every now and again, a Spider-Man story comes along which challenges the sanity of any self-respecting SpiderFan. I'm not just talking about stories that are badly written and badly illustrated. I speak of literary abominations which desecrate the memory of everything decent and true about the character, and which insult the intelligence and sensibilities of decent readers everywhere.

Such tales are "The Worst of The Worst".

This is a review of such a tale.

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man: Saves New York (Ladybird)
Jan 1990 : SM Title
Find ISBN 0721413374
Summary: Spider-Man defeats a magician named Mysterio
Publisher:  Ladybird Books, Ltd.
Writer:  Malcom McIntosh
Illustrator:  Robert Naylor
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Freelance photographer Peter Parker is covering the "Magicians Convention" in New York. The "Great Stupendo" is giving a speech when he suddenly transforms into Mysterio. The mighty magician Mysterio then demands a billion dollars from "The Great Powers" or else he will steal the United Nations building. Furthermore, to prove that he is serious, Mysterio intends to demonstrate his powers by stealing the Statue of Liberty.

So... who are the "Great Powers"? The United Nations? We're talking about a bunch of guys who can't even agree what to order for lunch... let alone deciding whom among them are going to be considered "Great" and who would be "not Great", or who is going to cough up a billion dollars. And we won't even ask if any of the "Great Powers" outside the U.S.A. would care what happens to the Statue of Liberty. In any case...

Oh, too slow. Mysterio just stole the Statue of Liberty.

Time for Spider-Man to step in. He knows he can only succeed by acting alone (why?). Spidey analyses Mysterio's recent appearances, and triangulates where he will be found next. Why on earth this would work, I can't imagine. Unless Mysterio is regularly in the habit of stealing the United Nations building, past behavior is unlikely to be a good predictor of future events!

But incredibly, this does lead Spider-Man to Mysterio. Oh, no. This one is a hologram. Spider-Man knows this, because he has the powers to detect body heat. But then he senses a genuine "energy source" in a nearby building. Yep. Spider-Man has gained the ability to detect and identify energy sources through solid walls. How convenient.

And indeed, this is Mysterio's secret base. And the magician himself is standing nearby a "reversible hologram screen device". Which is to say, he's standing by a bunch of unlabeled controls. But Spider-Man clearly has a lot of experience with reversible hologram screen devices, and he recognizes this one. So... the Statue of Liberty wasn't stolen! It was just turned invisible. But clearly nobody had the common sense to actually go and try and touch the invisible statue to see if was stolen or had merely disappeared.

Worse is to come. Despite promising to "steal" the United Nations building, the self-contradicting Mysterio is standing by a "thermal disintegrator" with which he intends to melt the U.N. building. Did I mention that Mysterio has also (during the course of this story) used a "sludge gun" and an "instant hypnosis ray". This ain't no ordinary magician. He's also a large-scale electrical engineer and inventor.

In fact, I'm sure the U.S. army would have happily paid a billion dollars for the secret of a "thermal disintegrator". They'd probably pay ten billion for a "hypnosis ray". And if they wouldn't, China would!

But no. Mysterio chose the super-villain path more traveled by. He attempts to zap Spider-Man with the hypnosis blast... but Spider-Man uses a handy nearby mirror to reflect the hypno-ray, incapacitating Mysterio. Then with only seconds to go on the thermal disintegrator trigger timer (why does it even have a timer?) Spider-Man saves the U.N. building.

In General...

This is one of those stories where it's hard to know where to start criticizing. Which offends the intellect more... the inane and inconsistent threats? Spider-Man's nonsensical abilities? The complete disregard for established characters? What about the ghastly cliches? And that doesn't even begin to mention the childish art which fails to support the story at all... or the clumsy language construction which makes this book unsuitable for adults and children alike.

Overall Rating...

It's not often that one small book manages to fail on every level, but this is such a book. Truly, it deserves its place among that special few... The Worst of the Worst.

Half a web.