Comics : Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #18

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This review was first published on: Feb 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...

"The Hulk Hits Town"
Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #18
Jan 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Jan-27-2011 (NZ)
Publisher:  Eaglemoss Publications, Inc.
Writer:  Glenn Dakin
Artist:  Ant Williams (Additional Material), John Ross
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Peter Parker's Aunt May is still sick (it came on suddenly last issue). This of course puts Peter in a terrible financial position. This seems to be quite common in Spidey comics, so it's worthy of a little investigation. Unfortunately for that purpose I'm not an American, so I'm not sure exactly how it works. But from what I can gather, it seems to be the case that for a large percentage of the U.S. population, sickness (either their own or sickness of a family member) very likely leads to financial ruin or death. Or both.

To be honest, I can't really understand why any country would choose a health system which so frequently has that kind of result. Pretty much every other first-world country (including my own, New Zealand) has managed to create a pretty decent, relatively cost-effective public health system to protect all of the members of their society, including the most vulnerable. But for some reason that is too complex for me to fathom, the United States has chosen instead to use an approach which not only costs more for the services provided, but which also excludes most of the people who need it most - such as our hero Peter Parker and his Aunt. *Shrug*. Whatever. I guess they have their reasons.

But I fear that I digress. In any case, Peter Parker needs cash, so when a battle breaks out between the Hulk and the Fantastic Four (specifically, The Thing), Spider-Man is there taking photos from the sidelines.

Fantastic Four heavyweight "The Thing" is wearing a bulky metal harness which we soon learn is "Vibranium Armour". Specifically, this armor was designed by Reed Richards to absorb power, and we learn that recently Reed thought it would be a good idea to (a) put the outfit on the Thing, then (b) get Hulk into the FF HQ in order to beat up the Thing, hence testing the armour's power absorbtion qualities.

It's not clear if Hulks involvement was voluntary or achieved by trickery. But hands up please any of you out there who reckon that in either case this is a really dumb thing to do. Wow. What a lot of hands. Yes, as everybody except for the "world's smartest man" can figure out in seconds, the whole concept is bound to end badly for all concerned.

As we see, Hulk has forced his way out of FF and has taken the battle to the streets. Not only that, in the "Green vs. Orange" stakes, the Hulk has the upper hand, and is not far off putting the Thing out of the picture - until Spider-Man realises he has to put down his camera and get involved. Which he does, leading Hulk away from the Thing and generally distracting the Jade Giant. He does this for a few panels, until... "his range spent, his gamma-fuelled power drained, the Hulk begins to revert to human form."

Now we must tackle the sub-plot that I have put to one side so far. It works like this: Unknown to Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, a couple of guys from A.I.M. are taking advantage of this opportunity to "hack into the Thing's uplink [and] jam his commline and siphon raw Hulk Power from the armour!" To what end, you ask? To power the giant yellow exo-battlesuit that one of them has created, of course!

This makes no sense, since (a) transmission of data signal and the transfer of power are two completely different things, and (b) because the artwork clearly shows that the suit is designed to absorb and store power, not to transmit it. Not to mention (c) how on earth did they know that Reed's experiment with the Hulk would spill out onto the streets? OK, let's reword that. How did they know about Reed's experiment at all?

Whatever. As the Hulk reverts to Bruce Banner, the "vibranium capacitor is full" on the exo-battlesuit. So full that the whole A.I.M. invention explodes. Little bit of an anti-climax there.

Aftermath: Peter ends up in hospital alongside Aunt May, after his fight with the Hulk. Now he has more bills to pay. Welcome to America.

In General...

The events of this story cause a great deal of damage and disruption to New York. Furthermore, these events would never have occured if it wasn't for the existance and actions of the "Super Heroes" of New York. The Fantastic Four are entirely responsible for what occured. Without them, it would have been a peaceful day on the island of Manhattan.

This really quite a trend. Looking back over the preceding 17 issues of this magazine, there seem to be a lot of these kinds of tales. Even the Green Goblin's long-winded plans of the first half dozen issues were only possible because of the Spider-Dimension's powers.

I don't particularly like these kinds of stories. I find them inbred and self-indulgent. Firstly, it is lazy storytelling, showing a lack of willingness to place Spider-Man in situations wider than himself. Secondly, it undermines Spider-Man's positive qualities. How can I think of him as a "hero" in any sense when all the stories about him are essentially ego-centric, and where they frequently show that New York would be better off without the wall-crawler.

Overall Rating...

Contrived and rediculous. Also pointless and small-minded. One web.