Comics : Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #16

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This review was first published on: Jan 2011.

Background...

This is a 60-part weekly series being pumped into the market by Eaglemoss publications. They don't know much about Spidey, but they know that 60 * $8.99 = quite a lot. And I'm the kind of idiot who will spend that sort of money without doing the math.

There's an original 7-page story in every issue, and collectible trading cards too. Sure, the stories are terrible, the art is ghastly, and the price is far, far too high. But there's glossy paper, trading cards, and an original Spider-Man comic strip series that 99% of the U.S. collectors will never own!

In Detail...

"Target Tony Stark"
Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #16
Jan 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Jan-13-2011 (NZ)
Publisher:  Eaglemoss Publications, Inc.
Writer:  Glenn Dakin
Artist:  Ant Williams
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Peter Parker is a college student studying biochemistry. Despite being repeatedly shown to be on a course and lecture study program (and not a senior research program) he somehow seems to share a huge, well-appointed lab with two other students. Not only that, they leave the lab skylight open so that Spider-Man can swing down into the lab any time he likes. This makes no sense, and that's just the beginning.

To get the story started, Tony Stark has lent a defunct Crimson Dynamo armored battle suit to Peter's lab so that his fellow students can tinker with it and get the suit working again. For fun, presumably. This makes no sense for several reasons. Firstly, it's a high-tech military system. Fair enough if it had been on loan to a specialist top-security research system. But it's not, it's a weapons platform capable of swinging the tide in a medium-sized civil war, and Stark just loaned to some grumpy student named Ivan.

Secondly, Peter studies biophysics. So why is he in the robotics lab working on this suit with Ivan and the pretty but ditzy Sandy (a visiting foreign student)? Clearly this "science" stuff is all the same to story writer Glenn Dakin. If you study DNA, surely you're a robot expert too. It's all "science", right? In fact of course, this is complete rubbish.

Ivan, Sandy and Peter all play with the robot suit, before heading off to visit the Empire State University Science Fair. This is a very special science fair since it also includes various high-tech bits of machinery including a working Particle Accelerator! According to the picture, a particle accelerator is a giant wall-mounted hamster tube with sparkling lights.

Surprise, Surprise! The Crimson Dynamo arrives, and attacks Tony Stark. Spider-Man disappears then returns onto the scene within seconds as Spider-Man in order to fight the Dynamo. This then gives Stark the same opportunity to disappear and return seconds later as Iron Man. They both battle the Crimson Dynamo, who then transforms the suit to the next level and explains they have (quote) "convert[ed] the armour's particles into pure electrical data... and become a Living Dynamo!"

This makes absolutely no sense, but I won't be too harsh on that point since such techno-babble is pretty typical in most comics. What is however impressive is that Ivan or Sandy (it has to be one of them in the suit, it's just a question of which one) managed to upgrade the suit in a few hours tinkering, especially since all three of the students were working on the Dynamo outfit at the same time. Bit hard to sneak a particle rebuild in under the noses of the other two colleagues I would have thought.

In any case, the "pure electrical data" version of Dynamo is too much for the heroes to handle, at least until Spidey gets the idea for Iron Man to lead the Crimson Dynamo into the particle accelerator. The Dynamo is then swept around and around until they are "torn apart, losing control of [their] electrical form." This makes no sense, but we'll get to that.

All shook up by the accelerator, the Crimson Dynamo reverts to regular form. Also the helmet magically disappears in the process revealing Sandy beneath the suit. Well, that answers that question. Seems that Sandy is actually "Alexandra Vanko", daughter of the original Crimson Dynamo. She wanted to "avenge her father's defeat and prove his genius." Yeah, whatever.

In General...

Clearly, somebody has no damn idea at all what a "Particle Accelerator" is or what it does. Certainly they have no idea of how big they are, or what they look like, or what kind of crazy effort and power is required to fire one up.

Just for the record, the biggest particle accelerator in the world is of course the Large Hadron Collider. It occupies a 27 kilometer circumference tunnel. Before operation it needs to be cooled to -271.25 C (-456.25 F). It takes a large team of scientists several weeks to put into operation, and consumes $100,000 worth of electricity every day to run. This is not the kind of thing you bring to a student Science Fair, especially since The Hadron Collider is actually buried a long way underground.

Even if you did manage to fire one up, you can't actually fly inside it, for two very good reasons. One, the tubes are sealed into a vacuum. No entry or exit is possible. Secondly, the tube containing the proton path is only two or three inches in diameter. Hardly room to fly in an armored suit! The "active" part of the beam is only one millimeter across.

Overall Rating...

Hey, I know this is fiction. It's made up. It's super heroes flying around in battle suits. But even so, if you're going to bring "real-world" devices (like particle accelerators) into your story, or set it in a "real-world" environment (like a university) then would it really kill you to spend five minutes reading Wikipedia so that you at least knew your arse from your elbow when scripting?

Famed fiction writer Frederick Forsyth used to spend four years researching his novels. I'm not suggesting that every writer needs to go that far. But kids read this stuff... do we have to mislead them quite so badly?

One web.