Here from April 2010 is the first "Super-Hero Squad" print book. Spider-Man hasn't yet featured in the TV Cartoon series and the Comic Book, but for some odd reason he manages to make his way into this version.
This book is 32 pages, 6" x 9". Soft cover, full color and illustrated throughout with 20-40 words on each page.
The Marvel Super Hero Squad live in the cleverly-named "Super Hero City".
I can't resist wondering how the city got its name. Did the city's founding fathers bestow the name, intending to create some sort of ghetto for super-powered types? Or was it renamed in honor of some special event?
Whatever the case, the city is home to a permanent Marvel super-hero team bloated enough to give the over-burgeoned Avengers a run for their money. Specifically the line up is: Iron Man, Wolverine, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Thor, Thing, Hawkeye Invisible Girl, Human Torch, Iceman, Captain America, Cyclops, Falcon, Mr. Fantastic, Colossus, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man and... um... some kid named "Reptil" who can turn into dinosaurs and is probably just in the team because somebody figured he would make for a cool line of toys.
Oh yeah, and General Ross (of Hulk fame) is leader and directory of the team. Because that makes sense.
There's a page or two for each hero, introducing their almost-familiar background. Spider-Man's appearance does nothing to help answer the "Is he in the Super Hero Squad or not" question. His text reads:
"If he isn't busy protecting New York from danger, Spider-Man swings by Super Hero City to lend a helping hand."
So... just how close together are these two cities, New York and Super Hero City? Both are clearly massive major urban centers, crammed with giant skyscrapers. Yet they are separate cities. Even if we assume they as close as Boston and New York, it doesn't explain how Spider-Man manages to swing between them. Maybe Spider-Man has a Spider-Mobile, or a Spider-Jet? Again, because that makes sense.
Clearly when the creators of "The Super Hero Squad" were asked which heroes they wanted to be included, they simply said "All of Them!" Then they proceeded to list all the ones they could think of, picking up the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, the most famous X-Men and Avengers, and... some guy named Reptil.
There's no rhyme nor reason to anything in this book. There's no sense of direction or focus. It's just "Here's a bunch of good guys... they fight bad guys... now go buy some DVDs and a few toys!"
Yes, the entire concept is utterly retarded. And normally I really love kicking books like this when they're down. Unfortunately for me, writer Lucy Rosen has actually done a nearly competent job with the bland and pointless raw material she has been handed, and hasn't produced anything overly obnoxious for me to criticize too harshly.
Super Hero Squad is substandard drivel, but isn't quite interesting enough to be truly offensive. Two webs.
I could possibly niggle about Ms. Rosen describing Captain America as "True Blue". The origins of that phrase are heavily tied to the blue die created from Woad (Isatis tinctoria), and the term has very strong connotations with Britain - specifically with the Picts who used to paint themselves blue. Using such a "British" word to describe the quintessential America hero is an unusual choice.