Comics : Minorities in Engineering - Riot At Robotworld

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

A Marvel Specialty comic that prepared in association with The National Engineers Week under a grant from the IBM Corporation. This comic (published in 1991), is the second time NACME has co-produced a comic with Marvel, the first time was in '90.

In Detail...

"Riot At Robotworld"
Minorities in Engineering - Riot At Robotworld
Year 1991 : SM Title
Editor:  Glenn Herdling
Writer:  Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk
Inker:  Chris Ivy
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Review

Daily Bugle photographer, Peter Parker has been assigned to take photos of the Robotworld exhibit during The National Engineers Week, only he has to first handle some business as Spider-Man with a mugger attempting to lift some nice lady's purse. Soon enough, our webbed wonder winds up on the campus of the event, and scurries to his appointment with Anna Lopez, the Project head for Robotworld.

Peter hooks up with Anna and her group of High School students and as they walk through the exhibit Anna explains to them the difference between movie robots and real-world robots. However, as they pass by some of the robots on exhibit, several of them hum to life and begin to go on a rampage. This includes a gigantic T-Rex that is outside the geodesic dome of the exhibit itself. As the faux dino terrorizes the patrons outside, several smaller 'bots inside the dome start chasing Pete, Anna, and the kids through the corridors.

Peter manages to break away from the group, switches into Spidey, and returns to tear the head off the Tyrannosaurs Rex. This menace stopped, he turns his attention to the numerous smaller ones that are running amok. With the rogue 'bots off their collective backs, Anna and her teenage charges hustle off to the command center in an attempt to shut down the main computer that is running them all.

However, when they reach the control room, they discover that it is none other than the sentient robot, Ultron that is running the show, and driving the other robots into a murderous frenzy. When Anna and the kids confront him, he calls up several movie robots (including a Terminator, RoboCop, and others) to come to his aide. As these movie 'bots are advancing on Anna, Spidey swings into the room and makes short work of the animated animatronics.

As Spidey is dealing with the robots, Anna and her kids short out the main control panel, and then use an override to shut down Ultron as well. As the crises is over, Spidey and Anna let the High Schoolers (all of whom are all inner-city boys and girls of color) that they too can get into colleges as engineers.

In General...

Here again is another well-written story that puts Peter (and Spidey) in character as the quick-thinking analytical hero-scientist that he is (instead of the empty-headed novice bumbler that he is currently being written as in a post BND world). The story shows the young high school kids as participating in their own rescue, as well as conveys the message of the sponsor (that engineers are needed and that anyone who is bright and studies can become one).

Personally, this reviewer believes that these types of comics (if done as well as this one) can probably go further to secure the brand of Spider-man than all of the plush toys, or mass-market T-shirts sold.

Overall Rating...

The comics hits on all marks and is well written with Spidey becoming the hero, the kids participating in their own rescue (showing the hero in all of us), and delivers the message of the sponsor. What more could you ask for (other than Pete still being married to MJ, but that's another story). Another aspect of this story that is kind of cool is that Peter, is a scientist himself (something that some writers and editors of his regular series sometimes seem to forget), thus that he is participating in a comic sponsored by an Engineering seems somehow serendipitous.

The comic loses half a point for the way-too-easy way the Ultron was defeated by Anna and the kids, which is really the only out-of-character aspect of the story.

Footnote...

The inside front cover has a brief recap of Spidey's origin. The inside back cover has info about engineering week, and the back cover has a short comic where Anna and Spidey tell kids that they too can become engineers