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.
Spider-Man occasionally throws in an appearance, but this ain't one of those times. Instead, our guest stars are Iron Man (yet again - there's a movie coming up don't ya know) and Captain Britain. Not necessarily in that order.
After a mere two pages of promotion for Marvel DVDs and the Marvel comics online website, we get a Dr. Strange profile followed by the first of our two tied-in tales, featuring... Hmm... it's Dr. Strange. Oh, there he is on the front cover, tucked up into a corner. Well, this is a surprise.
The good doctor is in his Greenwich Village sanctum, where he is investigating a supernatural storm. Once which could only be caused by a powerful magic book such as... the "Liber Pluriportum". For those of you who didn't share the classical education which I thankfully received, I'll translate. It means "The Stan Lee commemorative porta-loo".
Or in metric terms, you could also interpret it as "The Book of Many Doors". A powerful tome which teaches the reader to open dimensional doors and control the demons which can be summoned therefrom. And that's just what the naive recent acquirer of this volume is attempting to do, sitting in a rocky field in Cumbria, UK.
Well, Dr. Strange travels to the heart of the disturbance and finds Robert Katts, the foolish would-be-mage who has been duped by the book into believing that he could control the forces he has unleashed. And after explaining his back-story (a bland office worker with no joy in his life, promised the key to mystical secrets by the book), the foolish, greedy Katts attacks Dr. Strange in order to protect his grip on the book.
In fact, he meets some apparent success, managing to capture Strange's "Wand of Watoomb". Oh, wait, it was just a ruse. Dr. Strange recovers the book and destroys it. Only to discover that the portal created by the book has stabilized. And without the book, Strange has no means to eliminate the gateway!
But maybe there's another plan. Strange manages to shunt the portal to another dimension where it can do no harm. But then, from among the rising dust where the gateway one stood lies Captain Britain. The Captain hasn't been seen for months, and was believed lost. It seems he has been far from his home world, and now the battered, unshaven, half-mad Captain Britain has returned with a dire warning that "The Fury" is coming - and it's going to kill everyone!
Dramatic chord. End of story Part One.
Hey, what's going on? Plot? Characters? Am I reading the right magazine?
Sure, half the page count is still given over to a mystical slug-fest. But even so, there's an unexpected sense of care and thought gone into this story.
In this time, and in this place, this isn't bad at all. Three and a half webs.