Comics : Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #36
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!
Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #36
Jun 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Jun-2-2011 (NZ)
Remember how in this version of the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man lives in the Oscorp Tower, right next to a magic teleportation portal? Well, you're not likely to forget. Really, they should have named this magazine "Spider-Man and his Amazing Time-Space Portal". Once again, it provides the basis for this week's seven-page story - "The Day that Spider-Man Died".
Harry Osborn, wealthy college kid with no scientific background, has managed to re-activate his psychotic father's Goblin Portal. I'm not sure which staggers me more, the fact that Osborn, Jr. is now supposedly some high-tech whiz-kid, or the fact that he imagines that this would be a good idea.
Harry invites his apartment-mate Peter to watch him activate the portal, which he does. And the Fantastic Four step out. Ah... but this is the Fantastic Four from the future! From later in the afternoon, to be exact. They just stepped into their own Negative Zone gateway that afternoon, and arrived instantly in the Osborn laboratories a few hours earlier, where they apologize for being sad, because Spider-Man has just died.
Yeah, it seems that Spider-Man died some time during the morning. Bummer, eh? Peter is certainly upset. But wanting to avoid any nasty paradoxes, the Fantastic Four step back into the portal, to return back to their own time, i.e. back to later that afternoon. That leaves Peter to ponder his fate. Meanwhile Harry happily grabs the newspaper dropped by the Fantastic Four. He's looking forward to making a killing from knowing the afternoon's share prices in advance.
Seriously? For starters, it's very rare that shares move enough in one day to make that worthwhile. Secondly, if you did find advance notice of any shares that were going to move a few percent, you're most unlikely to be able to buy enough to make a profit (a) because of the transaction fees, (b) because a bulk order would push the price up, and (c) because a massive trade just before a price jump would quite likely bring an investigation of insider trading down on your head. Thirdly, the afternoon edition is assembled and printed during the morning. It prints yesterday's stock prices, not today's.
Actually, forget all that. Writer Glenn Dakin can't keep any idea in his head for long enough for it to matter. Three panels later, Harry's chatting with Peter, wondering if they should head out with "the girls" later. Peter, surprised by Harry's unexpected entrance, is forced to drop his own Spider-Man costume out of the window. It is picked up by a couple of Oscorp Security guards, who figure it's worth a ton of money. More on that later.
First, we need a Peter Parker moment. Peter spots a construction crane drop a bunch of concrete blocks right onto a group of kids. Judging from the artwork, the kids are about a hundred yards away, and maybe fifty feet up. Peter is out of webbing. So our hero sprints the distance (in the two seconds before gravity does its thing) and protects the kids with his own body... even though he expects to lose his own life.
Will Peter Parker really die today? Nope! The Human Torch is there to evaporate the blocks. I'm not going to try and figure out how much heat is required to ablate concrete in a fraction of a second, nor what kind of point-blank range explosion that might cause. Whatever the physics, the point is made. Peter lives.
But what of our security guards? Well, back in the tower, one of them has put on the costume. He decides to keep it for himself, slugs his partner on the chin, and climbs out of the window. All skyscraper windows open full wide in this version of Manhattan, remember. Then the security guard trips on some crumbly brickwork and falls to his death.
The Daily Bugle prints the news. The real Spider-Man promptly appears and ruins Jameson's day.
There's actually the germ of a decent story in here. It's not entirely unknown in this title. If I recall correctly, it's already happened three or four times before.
In fact, I think there was huge potential here. I could really imagine Stan and Steve coming up with this concept and really making something special out of it.
But as in every previous case, the execution destroys whatever promise the idea contained. The plot details are laughable, the pacing is all wrong, the characterizations are flawed, and the art is just a joke.
Every web I want to give for the interesting concept, I have to take away because of the tragic implementation. Maybe in a moment of charity I can leave a residual bonus half-web, bringing the total rating to one-point-five webs.