Comics : Spider-Man Team-Up Special
This is a one-shot, meant to be continuity-free, kid-friendly and new reader friendly. Notice how it wasn't meant to be good?
Spider-Man Team-Up Special
May 2005 : SM Title
Enraged that Roxxon Oil is dumping their toxic waste on Monster Isle, Mole Man attacks the United Nations in order to force Roxxon to clear out the waste, and be held accountable for their crime. Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four must fight off Mole Man's monsters and subdue him, and work out a way to come to a peaceful agreement, to clean up Monster Isle.
This comic is part of Marvel's drive to tap into a younger market of fans of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, by publishing an all-ages one-shot adventure which has a positive message and is easily accessible. Unfortunately, the issue reads too much like a forced after-school special to work effectively. This title doesn't fit into any current continuity, and just stands on its own, which is for the best, as fans of either the mainstream Spider-Man books or the Ultimate line would be confused by the mixing of characters here. Spider-Man is a teenager, by the dialogue, yet the Fantastic Four is written like their mainstream counterparts, although they are illustrated as their Ultimate counterparts. The Mole Man here is definitely the Mole Man used in the mainstream universe as well.
The dialogue is stilted and doesn't flow naturally, instead coming off as forced dialogue which only serves to support the very weak plot. The comic is extremely repetitive, as the message that the world is overly polluted and this pollution must be slowed in order for the planet to survive is hit over the reader's head too many times to count. The showcase of the issue is a poorly scripted fight sequence, with not much substance to it. This issue's scripting is total cheese, loosely supporting the lame plot. The conclusion to the issue is very contrived, not unlike the rest of this issue.
The art by Davis is very uneven. There's the inconsistency of the costumes and character designs, but those problems are more cosmetic. Spider-Man's anatomy, especially when he's in movement, looks very awkward, in particular on a page where the image is an homage to the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15. It comes off looking awkward, and Spider-Man appears throughout the book looking very uncomfortable and even unhealthy given the rendering by Davis. The colouring by Kemp is disappointing, as Spider-Man's webbing seems to be a garish radioactive blue instead of the normal light grey, or even light green as seen in early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. The Fantastic Four, on the other hand, are well illustrated, and match the script fairly well, however inconsistent it might be. Mole Man looks more like the Pied Piper from The Flash comic than his previous self, but it's a consistent rendition, and not one that is particularly lacking.
Why such a low rating? The issue is contrived and tries too hard to have an educational message. It's lacking any real substance, and fails to be interesting even to a casual reader. The artwork is disappointing and generally lackluster.