Imagine what a grand superhero adventure you could have if Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Iron Man; three of the biggest heroes in the Marvel Universe; were all hanging out together and doing cool stuff. Well, you don't have to wonder any more, as the three biggest movie stars of the Marvel Universe are now headlining their very own Marvel Adventure comicbook. As you could probably expect, this reviewer couldn't be happier. Just like the rest of the Marvel Adventures Universe titles, this comic is targeted for kids who are also the potential target audience for Marvel's slate of upcoming films (hopefully some of them will grow up and read other Marvel comics as well).
This series was launched early in 2008 on Free Comic Book Day with a special Marvel Adventures Superheroes comic.
Imagine yourself walking down some random street in New York City, just past the Manhattan First Security and Loan, and there you see the Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk evoking the long-ago image of Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones "Just waiting on a Friend" video (Think I'm kidding? Just check out the Rolling Stone iconic lips and tongue logo on a poster on the wall on which the Hulk is leaning). Anyway, Spidey and Hulk are waiting outside the bank (which apparently has a "No shirt, no shoes no service" policy (which begs the question that Iron Man, who is inside, is technically not wearing a shirt or shoes either).
As they are waiting, Spidey spots a rock poster for a band called Klaw & the Rhythm Rustlers, and immediately realizes that Klaw (the self-proclaimed master of sound) is a villain. It is at that moment that the Beetle comes crashing through the wall of the bank, only not from the outside, in, but the inside out. It seems that he was on the receiving end of an Iron-powered punch.
Well, we soon learn that Beetle was attempting to rob the bank and apparently was so engrossed in his task that he missed that Iron Man was actually in the bank conducting business (no, not Tony Start, but Iron Man, that is to say Tony in the Iron Man armor, yeah, Beetle is something of a bonehead). Getting back up on his feet The Beetle figures that one punch doesn't make a fight, and squares off against the Golden Avenger.
He is just about to land a haymaker on the top Avenger, when a green-hued tap on the shoulder brings him up short. Turning around, he spots, for the first time, the Jade Giant, and immediately surrenders, which (needless to say) upsets the Golden Avenger ("I nailed the Beetle with my best punch, and he keeps going. But the Hulk just looks at him and he surrenders.") As the cops come in and cart Beetle away, Spidey shows his Avenging buddy the part of the wall that has the poster with Klaw's band's poster.
Tony agrees that Klaw can be up to no good, and he along with Spidey and the Hulk drop by Klaw's gig the following Wednesday to check it out. When they get there, a waitress seats them just as Klaw's band takes the stage. As odd as it sounds, the band is a Country and Western band and they belt out a few numbers. In the audience the heroes sit, listen, eat chips and drink grape Nehis. Tw hours later the ban takes a break and Klaw hawks his CD and summons up a sound monster to go fetch a round for the band. Believing that the villain has made his move, the heroes bolt to their feet and make a move on the sound monster. Only even as Iron Man squares off against the sound monster, Spidey attempts to stop him. Not heeding his partner's warning, Iron Man punches the monster through the side of the venue. Spidey follows them out into the street; still trying to restrain Iron Man (The Hulk is still so moved by Klaw's melodic caterwauling that he is still in the bar).
Finally Spidey manages to calm down Stark even as Hulk and the waitress meet them in the street. It is there that Spidey indicates that the sound monster didn't make any threatening moves, hence, not kicking off his Spider-Sense. Next up, the Waitress lights into Iron Man, scolding him that Klaw always summons the sound monster, at that point in the show, and it never does anyone any harm.
Not entirely convinced, the three heroes spend the next several weeks following Klaw and his band around from gig-to-gig, waiting for him to make his villainous move. Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem to come, however, The Hulk, moved by Klaw's C&W crooning about lost dogs, (as a lover of dogs) does what he does best, and gatherers up all of the lost dogs from around the county and well, keeps them for himself.
As can be expected, this doesn't sit very well with Iron Man or Spidey, but, as we all know, it is hard to get Hulk to change his mind, once he has it set. Thus the Hulk goes bounding off to rescue more dogs and to keep young lovers from fighting with each other. Hot on his trail is Spidey, who is trying to keep his green buddy out of trouble (yeah, like that's gonna happen, eh?) As Spidey travels a few moments behind Hulk desperately trying to keep up and arrive before any real harm occurs. As he happens across a fallen building he is afraid that the Hulk has brought it down. Approaching he learns (to his relief) that the building was scheduled for demolition, and was brought down by a construction crew, not the Hulk. As he is talking to the crew, his phone rings, and it is Iron Man, who has caught up with their friend at a truck dealership (apparently real men need trucks).
Meanwhile, Klaw is being interviewed on TV by a reporter who can't seem to stop talking about The Hulk, and how Klaw should let Hulk join them onstage at the band's next show. As the interview progresses, Klaw is getting angrier and angrier as he is simply trying to promote his own band and sell his CDs, so all the Hulk talk is starting to send him over the edge.
As the interview continues, the TV reporter keeps hammering Klaw about the Hulk and Klaw keeps getting angrier. Meanwhile, The Heroes are watching him on TV and noticing his (over) reaction, even though the reporter can't seem to figure out that her line of questioning is riling him up. Anticipating what comes next; the heroes saddle up and head over to Klaw's musical venue arriving just in time to see his gigantic sound monster menacing the coliseum.
As the three heroes land outside the coliseum they confront a now thoroughly enraged Klaw, who goes full tilt when he spots the three of them encroaching on his gig once again. He starts screaming at them that all he wanted to do was play music, and everyone keeps pushing him. Now he's really going to show everyone what for, and lets lose a sonic blast against the armored Avenger, pummeling him with blow after blow of sonic punches.
Next up, he sends a large sonic spider after Spider-Man, who is not amused by the turnabout that has been played against him. Finally, the sonic Monster becomes animated and turns on Hulk. As the three heroes fight off the sonic attacks, Iron Man finally figures out a way to defeat the sound villain. He grabs a couple of microphones, and puts them head-to-head, causing an overwhelming amount of feedback, and shorting out Klaw's own body (which as we all know, is also composed entirely of sound).
When Klaw eventually comes around the reporter (who pushed him over the edge in the first place), ask Iron Man if they are going to arrest Klaw, when Spidey steps up and convinces his Ironed pal to give Klaw a break, then turns to the camera and applauds Klaw for putting on a great show. Understandably confused, Klaw doesn't get it at first, then Iron Man explains what we knew all along, that all Klaw really wanted to do was lay down some rockin' tunes.
Their jobe done, the heroes leave with the thanks of a reformed (rock star) villain.
Another fine issue with an interesting twist. While this is certainly not the Klaw of our Marvelverse, his character is played well here in that it is quite believable that he might want to give up his evil ways and simply play music to entertain the masses. The fact that this is such an unprecedented behavior in a career criminal, is so unusual that it is entirely possible that the heroes simply wouldn't believe it, and well, stalk him thus driving him into the very behavior that he is attempting to avoid.
Yep, this is fun stuff. I have to say that Spidey's constant wisecracking, Hulk's simplistic views of the world, and Tony's billionaire-adult clueless worldview, it seriously doesn't get much better than this. I love these comics, as they are pure in what they want to accomplish, where they want to go, and how they want to get there. No agenda, no heavy philosophical subtext other than then the whole "heroes win" and "with great responsibility..." rap.
How can you not love these comics?
So yeah, I'm gonna rate these comics high on the Spidey scale, as they entertain, thrill, and well, make me feel like a teenager again, and at my age, that takes some doing and should be properly rewarded.
There is a retro-faux Hostess Twinkie ad in this comic staring the Silver Age Sentry. The ad evokes the look and feel of those great ads from the '80s.
In addition to the Silver Age Sentry faux Hostess Twinkie ad there is another new single-page continuation of Chris Giarrusso Mini-Marvel Secret Invasion storyline involving the Fantastic Four. Spidey isn't in this one, but it is still very funny. Chris' stuff is really very funny, and deserves to be featured more prominently. Not only is there more Mini Marvel stuff at Chris Giarrusso's website, but you can find a collection of Chris' work in the Mini Marvel digest Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper Scissors, which you might still be able to find.