Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #20

 Posted: Mar 2011
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)


This is a 60-part weekly series being pumped into the market by Eaglemoss publications. They don't know much about Spidey, but they know that 60 * $8.99 = quite a lot. And I'm the kind of idiot who will spend that sort of money without doing the math.

There's an original 7-page story in every issue, and collectible trading cards too. Sure, the stories are terrible, the art is ghastly, and the price is far, far too high. But there's glossy paper, trading cards, and an original Spider-Man comic strip series that 99% of the U.S. collectors will never own!

Story 'The Vulture Squadron'

Spider-Man is swinging around New York when the Vulture makes a direct pass flyby, then... swings away. What is old Sebastian up to, with that head-mounted camera?

Peter is destined to remain in suspense for a few more panels as he returns to the Oscorp Tower apartment he shares with Harry Osborn. Harry has been a rather absent room-mate recently as he struggles to stay on top of the business empire he has inherited responsibility for, with his father Norman (secretly aka the Green Goblin) currently hospitalized with amnesia.

But as Harry departs for a late night second-shift at the Oscorp office, the sharper eyed among you might wonder why he's wearing a raincoat since he lives and presumably also works in the same building. A clue carefully dropped by the writer? Almost certainly not. I would never give them that much credit. Almost certainly just an oversight.

But enough about Harry. As Spider-Man swings across town to catch the latest "Hulk" musical with Mary Jane, our hero is attacked by a squadron of robotic vultures. The flying metal beasts launch themselves at the web-head, and as he flees, they follow Spidey every where he goes. In an attempt to evade them, Spidey swings through the Daily Bugle building where he annoys everybody. Heh, nice touch.

Then he swings past to see Mary Jane waiting in vain for him outside the theater. That's probably going to cost him something later. Then he sits out in the snow freezing and trying to figure out how he's going to get home without ruining his secret identity. Then he heads to the Daily Bugle for a coffee, and to annoy everybody.

Umm... dude, you already did that scene! You're repeating yourself. Seriously, this is a seven page story. You only have limited space, don't go wasting it by repeating gags!

Spidey swings out into the snow once more, and tries to lose the vultures in a building site. But when a robo-vulture slashes his web-line (presumably by accident, though it isn't explained) he falls in the mud. Emerging, he finds that the vultures no longer track him. Putting two and two together, he guesses that the birds are tracking him by visual pattern matching. So with the creative use of some handy materials he transforms himself into the junk-clad "Garbage Guy"!

In that guise he sneaks back to Oscorp Tower where he finds Harry and the Vulture sitting watching a computer screen. Seems that Harry paid the Vulture (a high-tech engineer, lest we forget) to build the computerized vultures in order to track Spider-Man and find out why the wall-crawler was spending so much time hanging around in the vicinity of Harry's home.

Harry and Sebastian head up to the communications tower to see if there's a signal failure that might explain why the birds have lost track of Spider-Man. Heh. So, he programmed an intelligent tracking system, but didn't bother programming it to let him know when the target disappears? Ah well. Common sense does not prevail hereabouts. In any case, when they return they find Spidey himself sitting at the computer where he has replaced the target image for the aforementioned tracking system - removing his own and instead configuring the avian mechano-hunters to follow The Vulture instead.

But before Spider-Man can inform the Vulture of that fact, Toomes activates his second batch, the so-called "Killer Vultures". Harry is a bit shocked. He wasn't planning to kill Spider-Man. But the Vulture is even more shocked as the second batch of flying robots launch themselves right at him, forcing the Vulture to leap out the window and fly for his life. A nice moment.

Harry disables the system (presumably saving the Vulture's life). Then he and Spidey sit down for a chat. Harry explains his concerns about Spider-Man's frequent sightings in the vicinity, while Spider-Man explains that he is simply "keeping an eye on the Green Goblin's dimensional portal" (as oft-referenced in the events of earlier issues). Of course, that's not the only reason for his presence, given that his civilian alter ego resides in the same building. But it seems to be enough to satisfy Harry... for now.

General Comments

Up until now, the stories have been bad ideas, badly implemented, and badly drawn. This one breaks the mold in that it actually contains the germ of a coherent plot. It just happens to be badly implemented and badly drawn.

Overall Rating

Overall, the effect is of a very drunk person trying to tell you a joke that they don't really understand. Sure, the joke may be funny, but it still manages to fail on several counts. I'll give it a generous two webs. Now excuse me, I need to go talk to that pretty girl over in the corner. Preferably before you spill your drink on me.

 Posted: Mar 2011
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)