Comics : Spider-Man Heroes & Villains: Energy Battle Special

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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!

This is a bonus "special edition" which includes a nine-page story, and the components of a "game".

The original blurb stated that the trading cards (8 per pack, one pack per issue) can be used to play a exciting game. Technically, this is true, if by "exciting" you mean "insipid", and by "playing" you mean "giving yourself paper-cuts while rubbing toothpaste into your hair."

The rules for the game were finally given in issue twelve or thirteen or somewhere around there. I know games pretty well, and trust me, it was about as disappointing as Obama's commitment to his reform agenda. Hmm... too topical? Too soon? OK, let's try again. How about... the game is about as exciting as playing "Snap" by email.

Could this one be any better?

Let's look at both parts of the equation: The Story, and The Game.

In Detail...

"Energy Battle"
Spider-Man Heroes & Villains: Energy Battle Special
Feb 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Feb-3-2011 (NZ)
Publisher:  Eaglemoss Publications, Inc.
Writer:  Glenn Dakin
Artist:  John Ross
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The Story: Iron Man is flying along, when all his suit's energy disappears just as he passes over Oscorp Tower. He falls out of the sky crashes through various levels until he comes to a crunching stop right in front of the Green Goblin's Energy Portal. That's the portal that was a key element in the early stories in this series.

By complete co-incidence, Spider-Man happened to see this happen, and he enters the building to rescue Iron Man. Iron Man's power returns, and within moments the two heroes find themselves battling a horde of energy-sucking vampires and ghouls. The good guys fight bravely - but to no avail, as Iron Man's energy blasts serve only to create more monsters!

Fortunately, Spidey figures out what to do. He tells Iron Man to stop fighting and to shut down his power. Stark goes one step further and calls S.H.I.E.L.D. to have them power down all of New York city. Before long the vampires are gone.

Of course, no story in this title can pass without a couple of moments of head-banging stupidity, and this one won't be the exception.

Moment One: Stark claims that he is the guy who bankrolls S.H.I.E.L.D. Seriously. S.H.I.E.L.D. are the police. Stark owns the police. Oh, what? Well, yes, good point. This is America, so maybe that is quite reasonable? Just how far have those tea party guys gotten with their municipal services transformation agenda anyhow? Are the police privately funded yet?

Moment Two: Jonah Jameson is blogging when the power is cut, and complains about not being able to do his live web-chat with his fans. The art clearly shows his computer blinking off WHILE Jonah is standing and complaining. Stupid on two counts... (a) surely Jonah doesn't have reaction times faster than electricity, and (b) his computer is a laptop - it has a battery so it wouldn't shut down!

Enough, nit-picking:

The Game. Well, it comes with a board, some counters, and a bonus 50 power cards specific to the game! You combine the extra cards with the regular cards in order to play.

In terms of production quality, the whole thing is ghastly. The board is made of paper and folds so that it doesn't sit flat very easily. The tokens are thin card and seem equally flimsy.

I'll admit that I haven't yet played the game. But as an experienced gamer, my first impressions is that it would be unsatisfying to any adult, but that it has at least a sufficient level of complexity to give the illusion of containing some element of tactics. There is no strategy involved. But you get to chose which way to move on intersections, and the mechanics of the game probably would be interesting enough for a pair of ten year old boys to pass a half an hour.

Frankly, I was expecting a terrible game. But this appears only to be a bad game.

In General...

The story is the usual rubbish. But the game is not-the-usual rubbish at all. It's a completely different kind of rubbish that costs extra, comes with a big cardboard display board for a bumped-up price.

Overall Rating...

One web for the story.

Two webs for the game. I might take that back if I ever get around to playing the ghastly thing. But at least the key elements of a "game" appear to be present, and that's far more than I really expected.

Overall, a web and a half for average.