Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #27

 Posted: Apr 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 has been 90% 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 Dream Trap'

Our tale begins at the front door of the Parker residence in Forest Hills. Peter Parker is heading off to college when he encounters Gwen Stacy. He has the vague memory that she has been somewhere (i.e. dead), but he can't recall where, and he allows her to take him to the college they attend together.

It's immediately clear that something is not quite right. Of course the first clue was the name of the story... "The Dream Trap". Writer Glenn Dakin isn't big on subtlety, so he figures there's no point trying to use the element of surprise. Hence the story title tells you that (a) this is just a dream, and (b) it's a trap. Combine that with the front cover and we also know in advance that (c) the villain to blame is "Nightmare".

And so our voyage of non-discovery begins. Peter visits college, then heads to his local cafe "The Coffee Bean", where he meets Mary Jane, Flash, Harry Osborn and I believe that's even Sha Shan I see in the background. Heading back home, he encounters his Uncle Ben, alive and well. Surely this is a perfect world? Well, not quite. Wherever Peter turns, the slightly menacing figure of Spider-Man stands, crawls or crouches in the background. But Gwen urges Peter to forget Spider-Man, and to ignore the petty crime they encounter.

Two cut scenes quickly give us the rest of the setup. The demonic do-badder "Nightmare" reveals himself as the being responsible (no surprise there) and boasts that whereas before he has trapped people in their nightmares, this time he has shown himself to be the only one capable of defeating Spider-Man... by trapping Peter in his dreams. And indeed, a scene from the "waking world" shows Harry Osborn and a doctor fretting by Peter's bed, back in the Oscorp Tower as Peter refuses to awaken from a deep sleep.

So the trap is complete. Let's see how Peter escapes! And... here we go. Spider-Man webs up Peter and forces a confrontation. In response, Peter tears off Spider-Man's mask to reveal... Peter. The shock triggers a breakthrough. Peter rejects the world around him, the spell is broken, and the dream fades...

...leaving Peter now dressed as Spider-Man in Nightmare's realm. Spider-Man now faces Nightmare. Surely he cannot defeat such a force of evil? Well, actually maybe he can. Nightmare is afraid of "the power of the Spider" as a newly confident Spider-Man chases down the deadly dream-weaver in his magical domain.

Now, you may wonder how this makes sense. How can Spider-Man be a match for Nightmare on his home ground? Unusually for this title, the answer is given. And even more unusually, it's quite a good one. You see, Spider-Man himself is greatly feared by many, and that fear gives Spider-Man power in this realm. So much power in fact that Spidey has Nightmare on the back foot when Doctor Strange arrives.

Doctor... who? Oh, Doctor Strange. The mystical medic had sensed Nightmare's activity, and came to assist Spider-Man against his foe. But his help in battle was not needed. Instead, Doctor Strange simply needs to guide a victorious Spider-Man back to the "real world", where he awakes from his sleep.

General Comments

This is actually a pretty good story! In fact... let me check. Yes, this is the very first logical, consistent story that regular SMH&V writer Glenn Dakin has scripted! Unfortunately, it is dragged down by the mediocre pencils and the in-execrably clumsy computer coloring.

Overall Rating

A half-decent tale, but poorly illustrated. Let's give it a nearly-acceptable two and a half webs.

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