Marvel Heroes is the third UK Spider-Man/Marvel Magazine title from the Panini stable. The others are Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) for early teens, and Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine) for the pre-school market. Marvel Heroes is a recent replacement for the relatively short-lived Rampage (UK) which was also aimed at the mid-late teen market.
This magazine features 36 glossy pages. As the title indicates, the content is 100% Marvel related, and most of the major Marvel Heroes get a look-in from time to time. The audience is clearly early/mid-teens, with plenty of DVD, movie and video-game link-in. Over time, the excessive self-promotion which marred earlier issues was gently scaled back to more acceptable levels.
At the time of publishing, the "Iron Man 2" movie was the next up and coming Marvel feature, so it's not too surprising to see War Machine featured heavily on this issue's cover.
Our story opens with a very realistic concept. The American army is concerned about it's pseudo-imperialistic influences in Central America. And while it publicly attempts to appear innocent of all involvement, it is unhappy with the way the civil conflict is going and intends to flout both public and federal law to secretly slide non-contested cash into the pockets of wealthy industrialists in order to achieve their unwritten aims. In this case, they're hiring Rhodes to defeat the mercenaries. But the U.S. army guys don't actually know that Rhodes is War Machine. But they're sending him anyhow.
If you think about it, this is wrong on about fifteen different levels. But it's a perfect lead-in for a high-tech super "hero" battle. So that's how Colonel Rhodes (aka War Machine) finds himself in a helicopter over the fictional central American nation of "San Alvador". The helicopter is brought down by a high-tech missile which shorts out the controls. Why they wouldn't just use a "goes boom" missile at a fraction of the price I don't know. But this gives a chance for the copter to make a "soft crash" landing, and for Rhodes to be (conveniently) the only one who is conscious on landing.
Rhodes lands and suits up into his armor. Then he easily finds the mercenaries. Did I mention the rebels have also hired American mercenaries. Or maybe War Machine is working for the rebels and the local government have hired the mercenaries. Look, it really doesn't matter who is on who's side, you know that both local forces and both hired forces are all just in it for whatever they can get. This is all about power, money, and high-tech macho machine combat.
The head of the (let's call them the defending group of) mercenaries is a guy named Crossbones. No super powers, but plenty of weapons of his own. He throws everything at War Machine who just stands and takes it in order to show how cool he is. Then he activates his repulsor beams or something and ends the fight. Of course, he changes back to civilian clothes and pretends that he's not actually War Machine at all, and that it was just complete coincidence that War Machine happened to wander past.
Inane, and fatally flawed from the first panel. It's a thinly veiled excuse to parade a popular movie tie-in character across three pages of pointless weapon pointing.
The best part of the whole magazine is the cut-out "War Machine" paper mask on page 32. Stick it on to some cardboard and you have something childish that won't fool anybody. Just like the story that preceded it.