Marvel Heroes is the third UK Spider-Man/Marvel Magazine title from the Panini stable. The others are Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) for early teens, and Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine) for the pre-school market. Marvel Heroes is a recent replacement for the relatively short-lived Rampage (UK) which was also aimed at the mid-late teen market.
This magazine features 36 glossy pages. As the title indicates, the content is 100% Marvel related, and most of the major Marvel Heroes get a look-in from time to time. The audience is clearly early/mid-teens, with plenty of DVD, movie and video-game link-in.
Two original and separate 7-page comic book stories headline the issue. This time around there's a Dr. Strange/Hawkeye story, and an Iron Man story. Spider-Man last featured in a story back in issue #2. The web-head does appear in some of the fill-in material this issue. We'll get to the details shortly.
In our first of our two feature tales, Dr. Strange enlists the assistance of Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) in a magical battle. Our story opens with Hawkeye protesting about the Daily Bugle having cropped him out of a recent news photo. But he soon has other things to worry about as the Strange One transports him to "The Keep of Shadows", a "vital stronghold where mystical weapons are stored".
The bad guys are there first - Xandu the Mystic and his swarming armies of Gribbiloth (ogre-type guys) have pillaged the places and stolen many powerful artifacts. Dr. Strange holds off the forces in a courtyard while Hawkeye runs into the fortress proper to try and find something useful.
Surprise, surprise, he locates a talking bow, empowered with arcane magics. He persuades the bow that he, Hawkeye, is worthy of its abilities, then returns to the fight just in time to shoot at Xandu, destroying the "Star of Baratoth" that Xandu was wearing on his forehead and which rendered him invulnerable to Doctor Strange's attacks. With that advantage removed, the good guys clean up the bad guys. But Hawkeye has to leave the bow behind when they return.
The first tale at least has a little warmth and charm to it, to slightly redeem its generic, formulaic blandness.
Uninspired. Two webs.
Season 2 of Spectacular Spider-Man the Animated Series appears as "Reason #2" in the "Top 5 reasons why the year 2009 will kick butt." Reason #1 is "Wolverine: Origins" the movie, by the way.
Spider-Man also appears in a "did you know the Barack Obama is a HUGE Spider-Man fan". According to these guys, Obama collects (quote) "all [Spider-Man's] comics." Actually, the version of the story that I heard was that he collected Spider-Man comics as a child. I've heard nothing to suggest that he still actually collects and reads comics. Given that the article actually mis-spells the President's name (they write it as "Barrack") then you'll perhaps excuse me if I don't believe their over-hyped version of that particular anecdote.
The web-head also appears in an "info-vertisement" for the new Hasbro Transformers/Marvel crossover toys and Venom appears in the centerfold pull-out "Marvel Villains" poster. Spider-Man is one of the cut-out targets for you to use with the free bow and arrow that comes with this issue. Finally, Spider-Man appears in the two-page "Learn to draw Spider-Man" feature, and in the Spider-Man cut-out-and-glue-onto cardboard mask.