Marvel Play Time (UK Magazine) #3

Background

This was Panini's "young kids" magazine for the UK market back in 2015.

Disney no longer lets Panini create original stories in the UK, but they're allowed to draw on existing material. The stories have been re-telling the episodes from Ultimate Spider-Man TV (2012), one by one. We are now up to Episode 3, and it retains its title "Doomed!" in this four-page, 12 panel rework.

Story Details

The editor's scalpel is flying right from the start – the first quarter of the original TV episode is completely trimmed. The scenes from Midtown High School are left on the cutting-room floor, and so is the team's initial misguided fight against the training robots.

This is a pretty critical omission, since it is the team's shame from screwing up the training exercise which motivates them to try and regain credibility by launching an unofficial mission to attack Doctor Doom – while simultaneously making it obvious how utterly ill-prepared they are to do so.

Instead we see the team in-costume, in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, flushed with success and ready for new challenges: "Spidey and the team have been training hard and they want to test their new skills."

Yeah, that really does miss the point somewhat. In fact, the whole story is so brutally truncated that the interactions and motivations of the team members are reduced to the absolute basics and many such points are missed.

Yes, the heroes do go to Latveria. Yes they do bring home a Nesting-Doll of Doombots. But Nick's fury is completely lost, the extreme severity of their screw-up is not evident, and the team's redemption arc is present only as a shadow of its former self.

General Comments

These episodes have been adapted several times. And certainly, I can understand the desire to re-use the digital cartoon show stills as a cheap way to create a visually attractive story.

But a 22 minute TV cartoon just cannot be represented in 12 panels and still retain its structure and meaning. It's just not mathematically possible.

Overall Rating

Like the 1982 scratch-and-sniff version of Star Wars, the 2003 braille adaptation of Queen's "Night at the Opera", and the back-of-the-cornflakes packet "mystery maze" version of Gone With The Wind, this adaptation is just a step too far.

Much as I hate to recommend TV over comics, I honestly have to say that you would do better to put your kids in front of the cartoon than in front of this magazine. It's a pretty good show with much to recommend it.

Then, if they've had enough screen time, buy them a real comic book made from fresh comic-book ingredients. Not this recycled rubbish that has lost all nutritional value as it passed through the blender.

One-Point-Five Webs.