Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man. Three of the biggest heroes in the Marvel Universe, or, at least the three biggest stars of the Marvel Universe who have had blockbuster films (in the past couple of years — no disrespect to the X-Men). Hence it is no wonder that Marvel would choose to team these three heroes up to headline a brand new comic that is targeted for kids that are the potential audience for the upcoming films.
Interestingly enough, even though these three characters regularly appear alongside each other in Marvel Adventures Avengers, they never actually refer to themselves as Avengers in this title. Here they are just three pals hanging out, and having a good time (as odd as that may sound).
This series was launched early in 2008 on Free Comic Book Day with a special Marvel Adventures Superheroes comic.
It is just an ordinary day (ordinary if you are a billionaire superhero who is palling around with two of your superhero friends, one of whom is an unstable gargantuan green goliath that can snap you like a twig). So, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Hulk are hanging around in one of Tony Stark's NY mansions. Spidey is demonstrating that he can stick to all sorts of stuff; the wall, the window, The Hulk...
A knock at the door brings their old friend Hercules (see Marvel Adventures Avengers #18) who has come to ask a favor of the trio of heroes. It seems that the Greek god is doing some remodeling for some old friends, only their dogs keep getting in his way, so he wants the three heroes to watch the dogs for him while he finishes off his tasks. Iron Man flatly refuses, but he hasn't taken Hulk's child-like persona into consideration.
The Hulk, you see, likes dogs.
Only these aren't ordinary dogs. These are the legendary Cerberus and Orthus the legendary, multi-headed hounds Orthrus (the brother of Cerberus) was a two-headed dog who was owned by the winged titan, Geryon, and was three-headed beast charged with guarding Geryon's herd of red cattle; while Cerberus was a vicious beast that guarded the entrance to Hades and kept the living from entering the world of the dead; and Herc wants the three Avengers to watch them for 10 days.
So saying Herc jumps on his chariot (pulled by winged steeds) and takes off, but not before he tells the mortal heroes that the dogs need to be fed twice hourly. Well, it must be feeding time, for as soon as the demi-god departs, Orthus attempts to take a bit out of Iron Man. Jumping to his rescue, Spidey attempts to web up one of Orthus' mouths while Iron Man tries to pry himself out of the other.
Upset that the doggie is attempting to eat his friends, Hulk steps into the fray and one-punches Orthus, knocking both heads out. With Orthus down for the count, Spidey and Iron Man realize that Cerberus has taken a power, and has headed for the park (trashing a number of cars in the street in the process). Catching up to Cerberus the heroes attempt to subdue the playful pup, as it knocks them around for a bit. Finally, Hulk does for Cerberus what he did for the doggie's brother (that is to say, knocks it out).
Back at Stark's mansion, the heroes begin their attempt to train the dogs to behave. As can be expected, it isn't the easiest thing in the world training a pair of mythical, multi-headed beasts who just as soon eat you. Needless to say, by day seven, they seem to have a handle on the situation, and have the dogs behaving reasonably well. At this point they meet a young woman named Ginnifer Englihard who is hosting a dog show at Madison Square Garden, and she invites the heroes to bring Cerberus and Orthus to the show, as she believes that it will help the show's publicity.
The Avengers agree, when they discover that half of all the ticket sales go to charity. The show is in three days, and when they show up with the dogs they are still not entirely sure that what they are doing is a good idea. Once there the dog brothers frighten a tiny Chihuahua, named Mrs. Cuddlikins.
As the three heroes are setting up with their charges (and Hulk is attempting to "adopt" yet another (this time Earth) dog Hercules shows up looking for the mythical pooches he left with his hero buddies. Spidey attempts to convince Herc to let them keep the dogs for just a little while longer, so that they can perform for the crowd. Spurred on by the concept of a crowd, Hercules announces that he will wrestle the dogs, and is promptly pounded by Hulk who doesn't want the Olympian to hurt the dogs.
Needless to say, this starts off a brawl between the four heroes as Hercules attempts to prove his manliness by thrashing the others, Hulk wants to stop Herc from hurting the dogs, and Spidey and Iron Man simply want to pound the Greek into submission to stop the fight. Finally, the fight simply stops when Hercules figures that the dogs have become tamed and want to perform at the show.
Hercules then jumps back into his chariot and takes off as he calls his dogs to him, however only Orthus goes with him, as Cerberus has apparently fallen for Mrs. Cuddlikins, and can be seen chasing after her in the park, even as her owner is confronting Iron Man about the whereabouts of the tiny pooch.
Well, in spite of the fact that the premise of the comic is flimsy and the story itself is, well ridiculous, the entire package totally works as a respite from all of the seriousness that is currently going on in the regular Marvel Universe (and no, I'm not running down the Secret Invasion storyline, I'm just saying that this sort of story acts as buffer to that, and totally works in a fun, and entertain light tale.
Back in the '60s there were more of this kind of silliness, and now with a grittier world out there, the Marvel Adventures Universe is a perfect place for the writers to let off a little steam, for us fans to catch our collective breaths and for the characters themselves to have some fun.
I'm already a huge fan of this stuff (especially as told over in Marvel Adventures Spider-man) so to see it happen here (in an even more lighthearted manner; if that is possible) is just as fun.
There is another new one-page of Chris Giarrusso mini-marvel story at the end of this tale, unfortunately this one doesn't have Spidey in it, but offers up a another look into the lives of green, blue, and red Hulks as they spend it at the pool. Again, it is hysterical.
As always there is more Chris Giarrusso that can be found at his website.