When this series began with a giveaway comic back on Free Comic Book Day in May of 2008. it seemed as if it was just going to be an ongoing venue for teaming up three of Marvel's big heroes Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Iron Man. All three of these heroes had high-profile movies in recent years. Well, after four fun-filled issues, all of that is about to change, as issue #5 features the first appearance of Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts. 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).
As this issue opens up the enigmatic Dr. Strange is mystically strolling through the various dimensions bordering ours as he is keeping tabs on their status, ensuring that their status remains quo, and that the safety of our dimension remains stable; when he comes across a nexus that is, quite literally, being shredded. Needless to say, this is a bad thing, and Dr. Strange, as protector of the mystic realities, must do something to protect the multiverse.
As can be expected, this is our cue for the introduction of New York's favorite web slinger, Spider-Man (yes, we didn't quite believe it at first, either). As Spidey is swinging through the glass and steel canyons of Midtown Manhattan, he crosses paths with one Adrian Tomes, A.K.A. the Vulture, who is beating wings for big sky as he crashes out of the window of an office building holding onto a mystical orb.
Before Spidey (who has been knocked into something of a tailspin when he crashed into Vulture) can regain his composure, and press his assault on the aged bird of prey, Tomes is ensnared in a mystical floating cage. Startled, the flying felon is understandably confused by his predicament. Next Dr. Strange pops his head through an inter-dimensional portal, magically returns the stolen property to its rightful owner, deprives Vulture of his mechanical wings, and whisks the now costumeless Tomes off to the local police station.
Grateful for the assist, Spidey thanks the good Dr. and then inquires as to what is going on and reluctantly agrees to help the Mystic repair the very structure of the universe. So saying, Spidey hopes through the doorway opened by Strange, and finds himself at an inter-dimensional nexus of realities. Understandably disoriented by the experience, Spidey does notice that the very fabric of the nexus is shredding and realizes that this is a bad thing. It is at this point that Strange realizes that he never formally introduced himself to Spidey, and takes the time to give the costumed hero a quick synopsis of his sordid past.
Strange transports Spidey into the past as a Dickens observer, so that he can see the egocentric physician Strange, who was more interested in his own prowess as a surgeon and increasing his own wealth than in his patients. He sees how Strange was involved in an accident that nearly took his life, and ended his ability as a surgeon. Then Spidey learns how Strange traveled to the Himalayas and met the Ancient one, who taught Strange the mystic arts, and helped him refocus his life.
Back in the present, Strange explains how he has taken on the mantle of the Master of the Mystic Arts to keep the balance of the multiverse safe from any who would chose to harm it. Back at Strange's Greenwich Village digs, Steven explains to Spidey how he really could use someone with Spider-Man's unique abilities to assist him in repairing the Nexus.
Never one to be able to resist a call to be responsible, May's favorite nephew steps up and agrees to assist the Mystic. Almost immediately, they are transported back to the nexus, and are set upon by a giant other-worldly giant, with huge fangs that wants to devour them. Spidey manages to avoid the creature and makes short work of it. Strange explains that the creature is a young Zakimiya, which is one of the creatures that have been chowing down on the Nexus.
Strange then touches Spidey's forehead, and mystically bumps up Spidey's powers so that he will be up for the challenge ahead. Strange then directs Spidey to simply web up the hole, which he does (Strange explains that Spidey's webbing now works on a magical basis now). The pair of heroes then follow the trail of the adult Zakimiya to a new reality where they encounter another Zakimiya, which Strange promptly deals with as Spidey webs up a new hole.
It seems that this is why Strange taped Spidey for this quest, it seems that his ability to sense danger is perfect for finding the weak spots in the reality core, so that he can web them up. Over the next several pages, Spidey and Strange criss-cross the well of reality as they fight off the various incarnations of the Zakimiya and close the holes that these inter-dimensional beings have gnawed through the differing realities.
Finally, they are face to fang with a monstrous Zakimiya and both Strange and Spidey manage to convince the beast that it would serve the creatures' best interest if it would convince its offspring to consume something other than the nexus of reality, for if it doesn't then the awesome creature named Spider-Man will unleash even greater horrors on the beast. Convinced the Zakimiya adult, calls off its offspring, and Strange and Spidey head for home.
Once back in our reality, on the steps of Dr. Strange's home Strange thanks Spidey for his help, and then apologizes to the teen for essentially bullying him into assisting the mystic in his quest, so he hands Spidey three Ttqfolnian coins amounting to 68 cents (they helped save the Ttqfolnian reality). Strange then disappears, leaving Spidey alone, who then swings off, as Strange, Wong, and the Ancient one observe the young hero from his inner sanctum
With this issue of this title, The Marvel Adventures Universe grows a bit larger with the addition of a previously unknown Dr. Strange, as well as the Vulture. It has been made known to us that future issues of this title will feature more heroes and villains as the universe grows even more. While Spidey will remain large in this titles future, this marks his last continuous appearance.
Again, a solid issue as we learn more about the MAU with the introduction of Strange. Being as both Spidey and Strange were both co-creations of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, we always look forward to a teaming of these two dissimilar heroes. Yet somehow, a teaming of them always seems to work. This time was no exception.
This is Spidey's last continuous appearance, future issues will continue to feature him in a reoccurring role, but he will no longer headline each and every issue.