There's comics for kids... and then... there's comics that kids deserve better than. A word to the wise... the latest Marvel offering "Marvel Super Hero Squad" is the kind of stuff that is an insult to children the world over.
I'm not sure of the legal history behind this comic book. Spider-Man is conspicuously absent from the line-up of this latest "super" "group", and I heard a rumor that licensing issues were the cause of our favorite web-slinger's non-appearance. That's a bit confusing, since Marvel's name is on the front, and in the indicia as the publisher... so it's hard to imagine that Marvel had problems licensing Spidey to... themselves.
But nonetheless, Spidey ain't in this story. And neither are a lot of other things, such as humor, plot, or good art.
In fact, there's not even a lot of "story" in this story. We open in "Super Hero City" where Wolverine is ordering a hot-dog. The vendor drops his hot-dog tongs down the drain. Oh no! But don't worry, Wolverine can use his adamantium claws to stab the sausage (and presumably use his healing factor to settle his indigestion after eating the hot-dog... do you know what goes into those tube-meat things?!)
But then Wolverine spots M.O.D.O.K. hanging out by a nearby burger joint. The initials in M.O.D.O.K. stand for "Classic Villain Can't Save Crappy Story". In Lithuanian. Apparently. M.O.D.O.K. is being guided by Doctor Doom to find a glowing red crystal "Fractal", which is coincidentally (but irrelevantly as the X-Men other than Wolverine don't appear in the tale) floating on top of the X-Men's HQ building.
Wolverine and M.O.D.O.K. fight over the fractal, then a red fractal zap swaps their minds between the two bodies. The rest of the "Marvel Super Hero Squad" arrive, and Wolverine/M.O.D.O.K. pretends to be Wolverine, and the MSHS capture M.O.D.O.K./Wolverine and take him prisoner in their floating heli-carrier. Yeah, pretty gratuitous here. Two super-villains, X-Men's HQ, a S.H.I.E.L.D.-style heli-carrier, and most of the first-rank super-heroes from Marvel's line-up. Except Spidey of course.
Well, in the heli-carrier, M.O.D.O.K./Wolverine persuades Ms. Marvel that he's really Wolverine, and she lets him loose so together they can go fight Wolverine/M.O.D.O.K. who meanwhile has captured the rest of the MSHS. They fight over the fractal again, their minds swap back to their original bodies. Good Guys Win. Wolverine throws M.O.D.O.K. out of the carrier, and the MSHS go and eat hot dogs. Hulk eats all the hot-dogs raw from the cart. There's yer punchline, kids!
This story is only twelve pages long. I got through and thought... aw man, that was lame (bad), but at least it was short (good), but now I have to read another one like that (bad)!
WRONG! That was it. Twelve pages is all the story you get. The rest of the pages are filled up with some really lame three panel comic strips, which I believe are already published on the Marvel Kid's website. What a total rip-off. US $3 for a 12 page story, and a crappy one at that!
But really, it's the dumbed-down nature of this story that is hardest to get past, and I really have no idea what market Marvel imagines they are selling to here. They already produce Marvel Adventures Spider-Man which already hits the pre/early teen market. But this story seems just about clever enough for the kindergarten crowd. Perhaps. But given that, then why do the advertisements feature teen fiction books, and "T for Teen" rated video games?
Who knows? Who cares? Just leave this one sitting on the rack for a couple of months, and it will probably vanish without a trace before the title reaches double figures.
This Squad is... a damp squid... one that means squat.