MegaMorphs #1

Background

It sounds like a concept only a toy executive could love. Familiar Marvel Superheroes like Spider-Man and Captain America climbing inside of giant robot versions of themselves to duke it out with other gigantic robots. In fact it IS a concept dreamt up by the fine folks at Toy Biz who in addition to making some of the finest action figures known to man, are also responsible for some real oddball toys. Take the Spider-Man Adventure Hero line, which depicted Spidey as everything from a soccer player to a snow border, to a fireman, to a beach lifeguard. My personal favorite toy from that line-up featured Spidey dressed up in Safari gear over his usual costume, complete with Pith Helmet. Then there's the remarkably successful "Spidey & Friends" line for 3-year olds, which Spider-Man, Captain America, and pig-tailed Spider-Girl doppelganger are bizarrely muscular children who carry around all kinds of weird gadgets.

While in this more cynical day and age where comic fans all too often take the medium way to serious it would be easy to blast this comic, we often forget that not all that long ago toy based comics were a fairly respectable niche market of the industry. Jack Kirby himself did two mini-series based on DC's popular Super Powers toy line. Many fans have found memories of the Transformers and G.I. Joe comics of the 80s, while some talents such as Larry Hama (G.I. Joe) and Bill Mantlo (Micronauts, Rom The Space Knight) actually did their best work on toy based comics.

So to view this comic in the proper light one has to view it not in the context of the mainline Marvel Universe, but as part of a long strange and sometimes wonderful comic book subculture that stretches from Captain Action to Micronauts, to GI Joe, to the all-too short life of the poorly managed Dreamwave comics. Plus it's got a giant Spider-Man robot! So kick back and enjoy the ride.

Story 'Mechanized & Manipulated'

  MegaMorphs #1
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor: John Barber
Writer: Sean McKeever
Pencils: Lou Kang
Inker: Pat Davidson

Our first issue opens up with Bruce Banner enjoying a cop of coffee at a bistro in Atlanta, Georgia. He spots an overly aggressive man threatening his girlfriend. After the jerk threatens to hit him, Bruce flatly states that would be a bad idea because "you'd just be making me angry." Unbeknownst to Banner a mechanical mosquito sneaks up behind him, biting him on the backside of the neck. Without warning Banner turns into The Hulk. Hulk's eyes roll back as he blindly mutters "Yes... Hulk Hears you. Hulk Understands" before leaping away.

Meanwhile in upstate New York, Iron Man is sparring with a giant Spider-Man robot that is not Leopardon [http://incolor.inebraska.com/stuart/spiderman/]. Spidey-bot easily deflects one of Tony Starks repulsor blast and Tony Stark is highly impressed that the giant robot has sustained no damage.

"Look if you're done patting yourself on the back, I do have a life to get back to." Spidey says. "No you don't." Iron Man replies. "Not a social life no-- but I do have a life. Really." Parker replies.

Iron Man fires another repulsor blast, but this time Spidey-Bot blocks the attack by spinning a shield out of his webbing, a neato trick indeed. Spidey states that he's always happy to play with Stark's 'Oversized Action Figures" Iron Man quickly points out to Spidey that the Mega Morphs are in fact NOT toys but the earth's last line of defense against "Major Global Threats."

Please excuses me while I laugh out loud for a moment.

BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Anyway we learn that the Spidey's robot draws it's powers from Spider-Man's powers but thus far there are no means of replicating his Spider-Sense yet. "It could warn me of, like approaching vaccum cleaners. Those things creep me out." Spidey quips. Stark considers giving Spidey-Bot a humor chip. Suddenly Iron Man receives an emergency call and a our two heroes promptly leave. Back at Tony Stark's secret and highly expensive base we see the other superheroes Mega Morphs in wreckage. A security camera video shows that they have been trashed by none other than The Hulk in his very own giant stompy-fun robot. Hmmm maybe giving Hulk a means of being more destructive wasn't the brightest idea to come out of Tony Stark's alcohol laden mind.

Spidey wonders why Hulk do this, while Tony is more concerned by how Hulk knew the location of this base. Tony promptly reminds us of the time that Doctor Octopus stole his plans, built his own giganto big-big super robot, and tried to sap all of the world's heroes of all their superpowers. What? You've never heard of such a story? Well the editor's notes helpfully point out that this prequel story can found in six mini-comics included with the Mega Morph action figures. Darn now I guess I'll have to review those as well.

Anyway Tony Stark speculates that this plan was far too ambitious for Doc Ock to have acted alone, but they never knew who Octavius was working with. It seems an unknown player has in fact that someone has hacked into Stark Industries database. Making matters worse Hulk-bot has stolen Dr. Octopus's Mega Morph and is heading towards Southern California home of the new Supermax Prison. I guess they had to find someplace new to send Dr. Octopus since that breakout at The Raft.

We fade in the next morning at the Supermax prison to see Dr. Octopus in a glass cell, his multiple arms shackled to the wall. Doc Ock is presently being annoyed by a guard's jokes until a sudden rumbling is heard. Without warning a Giant Robo-looking Hulk Mecha slams through the prison's wall. "KA-WHOOM!" says Mr. Sound Effect. "The Hulk?" A shocked Otto Octavius says. "Whatever you want from me you won't get it." Hulk-bot responds by KER-ASHing Ock's glass prison cell.

"Hulk has come to set Extra Arms Man free." He says. Dr. Octopus promptly reconsiders the situation. Personally I wish he went with the name "Extra Arms Man" all along.

Outside of the prison armed guards are waiting to take out Hulk's now tank- transformed robot with BIG SHINY PHALLIC WEAPONS OF DOOM! Alas despite their impressive "BUDDA! BUDDA! BUDDA!" sound effects the weapons prove powerless against what Toybiz's website informs me is called a Rage Tank. I love that name... Rage Tank!

Thankfully a huge blast of webbing suddenly jams the cannon of Hulk's tank. Suddenly we see Spidey's Giant Robot which has morphed in giant robot Spider. (Were you expecting Spidey-Bot to turn into a six-slice toaster perhaps?)

"Y'know if you came here to beat up on some crooks, why didn't you invite me?" Spidey asks. You Know I love a good Team-up."

Hulk responds by firing a laser blast at Spidey's Arachno Fighter. "Hulk has no time for talky bug man!" You know it's really nice to hear some good old fashion Hulk-speak.

Hulk-Bot fights it out with Spidey-Bot. Parker tries to radio Tony Stark for help... but since Tony Stark is busy tracking down who's behind this mess Iron Man is not available. Thankfully the other Mega Morphs have already been repaired and are on their way.

Spidey taunts Hulk by calling him a wuss, this makes Hulk angrier prompting him to blindly charge at our hero. This gives Spidey just the opportunity he needs to send Hulk crashing into a mountain and web him up. Suddenly Spidey's natural Spider-Sense is triggered and we see that Doctor Octopus has commandeered his own robot which wraps Spidey up in his tentacles. Giant Hulk Robo however quickly makes short work of his web prison.

"Hey... guys... Come on, Let's be friends... We could, like, start a Metal Band? Okay I deserve to get hit now don't I?" Despite his jovial nature, things are clearly looking ugly for Spidey. Downright Coyote Ugly.

We cut far away to the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning in Westchester, New York where there is suddenly a large commotion. "Out sensors indicate a large mechanized humanoid is headed this way!" Dr. Henry McCoy helpfully explains. "Could it be a Sentinel [http://spiderfan.org/ppp/v09/issue05/read.html]?" Wolverine asks as he, Beast, Cyclops, and Emma Frost prepare to mobilize. Upon stepping out of the front door, the X-Men pause in shock and disgust as what's coming is most definitely not a Sentinel. "Uch. How... Tawdry" Emma Frost says.

In fact it's a Giant Wolverine Robot being hauled by a Captain America themed helicopter. "Logan, I didn't know you had Playpals." Emma Frost deadpans as Logan slaps his face in humiliation. But really why is Logan getting on his high horse here? He's been in much more embarrassing comics than this. I mean the guy was in five issues of Venom [http://www.spiderfan.org/comics/title/venom.html] for crying out loud.

On a completely unrelated side-note according to the official name for the helicopter form of Captain America's mecha is "Warbird." Which is rather silly as that name is currently used by an active super heroine. So to avoid confusion and retain Captain America's dignity I'll just refer to it as "Ms. Marvel."

Anyway back to the fray. Spidey-bot manages to out duck under one of Hulk- bot's punch prompting the green mechanical goliath to accidentally punch-out Doc Ock-bot. "Bug Man tricked Hulk! Hulk has compromised mission objectives!" Hulk screams.

Thankfully just before the giant mechanized Hulk can trample Spidey-bot it's suddenly blasted from behind in a huge blast of flame. "Vengeance is mine" a gigantic skull lined motorcycle says. It's Ghost Rider in his very own giant robot. You know if the gave him one of those back in the 90s he'd still have his own solo series by now.

"Whenever Vengeance calls Ghost Rider is ready!" Ghostie proudly proclaims, as his mecha transforms from motorcyle to Robot form.

"Riiight." Spidey says awkwardly. "Although technically I don't know that this is so much of a... y'know... Vengeance... never mind it's not important."

Speaking of awkward I can't help but wonder why exactly Ghost Rider of all people was chosen by Tony Stark to receive one of those giant robots, especially considering that Ghostie's powers stem from supernatural origin. But I won't probe this obvious logical loophole into detail as even with this obvious lapse in logic, this comic still makes more sense than The Return of Donna Troy.

This leads to a two-page slugfest between the four robots with Spidey-bot tackling Doc Ock-bot and Ghost-bot fighting Hulk-bot. Suddenly Tony Stark radios in. "I've traced the hacker's route! I know who's behind all this!" Stark says. "We're kinda busy right now." Spidey says. "Fine Spider-Man. If you don't want to hear it from me look behind you!" And with that Spidey's mecha turns it's head as we see DOOMBOTS!

DOZENS OF DOOMBOTS!

DOOMBOTS WEARING ROCKET PACKS!

"Oh. Doom. That's Great." Spidey deadpans.

General Comments

In General:

This comic is based on a patently absurd premise, could never plausibly fit in Marvel Continuity, and is a fairly shameless shill for toys.

I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Ok, "love" is a pretty strong word but I enjoyed this first issue a lot more than I probably should. In a marketplace swarmed with overly serious event books like the various House of M and Infinite Crisis tie-ins it's refreshing to see a comic that wears it's ridiculousness as a badge of honor. That and I would much rather read a comic that's intentionally laughably ridiculous as opposed to a comic like Venom or the recent War Crimes arc from the Bat titles which are supposed to be taken seriously but only end up being laughably ridiculous.

Sean McKeever's script provides several laugh out loud moments while artist Lou Kang draws some pretty neat robots. His human characters while cartoonishly appealing are a little uneven however, Tony Stark in particular looks way too young.

Still if you're looking for something different and don't take you're Superhero comics too seriously it's really hard not to go wrong.

Overall Rating

I suppose I really should feel a tad guilty for giving such an absurd title a positive rating, but MegaMorphs really is good natured fun.

Footnote

Doombots are running amuck, Wolverine & Captain America are joining the fray, and just what are Doc Ock & up to? Tune in for more heavy metal mayhem Spider- Fanatics!