The Marvel Age (clasic Marvel dumbed-down for a new generation) seems to be latest big thing. Rumour has it that there are two new Marvel Age titles being added - Spidey Tales, and Fantastic Four. Or something like that. Anyhow, here's the second issue of the new Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up title. It's planning to feature a whole bunch of famous Spidey team-ups and crossovers, all reworked and recreated in glorious pseudo-manga style.
Spidey is swing 'round when he stumbles into a battle between Captain America and some A.I.M. guys. You know, the army of henchmen in uniforms that look like their top hats got yanked down over their heads. Spidey helps win the battle, and they question the last man standing. Seems this was a "diversion", and the real attack is coming up soon. So, armed with the location of the real attack, the heroes go and wait for it.
Now, personally, the whole "diversion" concept seems like a pretty dumb idea, not at all an advanced concept. Firstly, if you're going to have a diversion, shouldn't it be at the same time as the main attack. If you organise your diversion before-hand then it's more of a warm-up than a diversion! Secondly, surely the diversion is supposed to reduce the likelihood of a interference in your primary attack... but instead, the diversion just handed the super-heroes a bunch of guys to interrogate and find out about the real thing, thus basically ruining the whole plan!
Still, the "Marvel Age" concept never claimed to be clever, so it's hardly fair of us to point out the stupidity of the plot. So let's move on. CapAm thanks the wall-crawler, and heads off to the main event. Spidey trails him, but is spotted, then gets invited anyhow. They then sit and wait for the villain, specifically some French guy named "The Stone Gargoyle" to turn up.
Anyhow, now we get to the subtle sub-plot, which involves Peter's Social Studies assignment. He needs to write 1,000 words on something, but he's stuck for ideas. Fortunately, to pass the time, he and Cap start talking about stuff like how everybody seems to be fighting so hard that they can't tell that really they all probably want the same thing. Cap tells him that all that frustration is part of what makes him proud to be an American, and how great it is to have the freedom to make changes and to make a difference, to make yourself better and to make things better for everyone else in the process.
The underlying sentiment is most certainly sound - that wanting to improve the world is a good thing. In practice, maybe there's a bit of a reality gap here. Far be it from me to decry the whole "Mom and Apple Pie" thing, but personally, I reckon that kids of all generations could do with maybe being fed a little less "my country right or wrong" stuff, and a little more objective history. Let's stop telling kids that "we're all doing what we can", and maybe we start telling the truth, like "Our generation has generally acted pretty selfishly, and has done a lot of damage to global climate, world politics, and plenty of other bad stuff - but please, carry on voting for the same sorts of guys who (despite carrying different party labels) are going to do basically the same sorts of things."
Whew! Enough of the "angry young man" schtick, eh? Back to the comic. Cap and Spidey turn up, Monsier-le-Gargoyle is there with another hundred or so A.I.M. guys. Gargoyle has petrifying powers, and he turns a big filing cabinet to stone and drops it on top of Cap, Spidey webs in its tracks, leaving it hanging. Cap says thanks, and while Spidey is saying "It's the least I could do for my country" in a rather over-ingratiating sort of way, Gargoyle blindsides him and turns him to stone, with no hint of a Spider-Sense. Cap rushes to the rescue, but is stoned as well.
A few minutes later they both come 'round, strapped to some big block of something. They bust their chains, and corner the Gargoyle just as he's grabbing the secret formula he was after. But, "gasp, my petrifying power is to hold you for an hour or more!" says the Gargoyle.
Cap then reveals that the formula is a fake, just some sort of cool aid. Apparantly, S.H.I.E.L.D. likes to keep track of their enemies, for example, by sending them on a wild goose chase. At that point, Spidey then mentions that his webbing also works for an hour. Just at that time, it snaps on cue, dropping the suspended filing cabinet on the gargoyle. Case closed! Oh, it also turns out that this was the second half of the fake formula, the first half being the one that the Chameleon failed to capture last issue.
Now, there's a problem with some timing here. The heroes recovered within minutes, as evinced by the fact that the Gargoyle had only just opened the cabinet and stolen the serum, and by his protests about the petrification not as long as the hour it should have. BUT! If that is the case, then how come thirty seconds after, Spidey's one-hour webbing snaps on cue? The final plot twist has a fatal continuity flaw. What a lame way to end the whole comic. "At least", says Spidey, "I now have a bunch of over-simplified nationalistic drivel with which to convince my high-school of my successful indoctrination!" Or words to that effect.
As you can tell, I really wasn't that keen on my comic being hijacked by the local "America the beautiful" commitee. Of course, even if that kind of thing doesn't bug you, this comic is still pretty damned lame. The artwork looks like something out of Yu-Gi-Oh, and the plot is facile, puerile, and... something else that ends in -ile. Ummm... and trivi-ile! Add that to the fatal glitch in the final plot twist, and you're left with a really lame book.
One web. Kids deserve better than this.