Marvel Heroes: Super Showdown (Reader's Digest)

 Posted: Jan 2012
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)


This is yet another "Marvel Super Heroes" book from the folks at Reader's Digest. The seem to produce one every six months or so, each one with a slightly different "gimmick". They are typically quite attractive books, with high production quality. Unfortunately, the artwork is usually rather mediocre, and the plots are worse.

This particular example is 8.25" x 9.25". Square bound with thick, hard covers, the book is about half an inch deep.

Including inside front and back covers, there are 10 pages of story, although many of the pages feature a fold-out flap which slightly extends the page count.

Story Details

Spider-Man was web-swinging past, when he spotted Doctor Doom breaking into the Avengers Mansion.

Naturally, Spidey dropped down and taunted Doom. In return, Doom opened an inter-dimensional portal through which appeared a swarm of tentacled, flying alien beings who attacked the web-slinger. First round went to Doom, I suggest.

At this point we reach our first "Action Pop-Up".

Actually, I would probably dispute "Pop-Up". It's more of a "Fold-Out". I think I would also be tempted to dispute "Action" as well.

Have a look at the photo and you'll see what it looks like. The right-hand page has a flap which extends out, revealing a scrunched-up "fold-out" which is a bit like a cup-cake cup. When the flap is partly opened-out, then the cup-cake (with the image on the inside) rises up a little from the page. When the flap is opened out fully, then the cup-cake opens up and lies flat as well.

The Avengers sprang into action and rescue the dumb-ass Spider-Man. Doctor Banner quickly got involved and located a truck parked nearby, which was the source of the energy for the portal. Doombots were defending the truck, and when they "grabbed" Banner, he turned into The Hulk. This is our second "pop-up".

The Hulk smashed the truck, which caused a super-giant alien beast to appear through the portal.

However, instead of attacking the heroes, the alien beast grabbed Doctor Doom. Both Doom and alien were sucked back through the portal, which then closed shut behind them. This is the third pop-up.

General Comments

The story-lines for these Reader's Digest books truly are awful, and this one is no exception. This one is trite and contrived as normal. But to make things worse, it is written in the past tense, which also makes it flat and unexciting. Super-hero stories are near-universally written in the current tense, and there's a reason for that. The decision to script this one in the past-perfect is truly incomprehensible.

The art work is decent enough. It is quite cartoon-stylized, but is finished with a relatively sophisticated painted feel which leaves the impression of a high-quality kids product.

The paper engineering is probably the week point. There have been a number of quite sophisticated Spider-Man pop-up books published over the previous five decades, and this one doesn't really earn it's place among the best of them. There are only three fold-out pages in the book, and all of them are identical in their structure - so I can't offer any points for number or variety.

Furthermore, when the page is opened wide, the fold-out ends up becoming a flat page once more, and most of the visual impact is lost.

Overall Rating

Terrible plot, adequate art. High production quality in general, but a disappointing lack of imagination in the paper engineering which in theory is supposedly the heart of a "pop-up book".

I can't give this one more than two webs.

 Posted: Jan 2012
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)