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. Over time, the excessive self-promotion which marred earlier issues was gently scaled back to more acceptable levels.
Most recent issues feature a pair of interlinked half-length stories. There's the occasional one-story exception. In any case, the total "story content" of each issue adds up to about fourteen pages. The rest of the content is puzzles, posters, fact files, letters page and other fun and games.
Early issues were padded with DVD, movie and video-game "comp-ad-titions" and "infomercials". That commercial filler quietly disappeared, leaving the content 100% Marvel with only minimal self-promotion.
This issue's lead story features two of Marvel's sexiest super-sneaks... Black Widow, and Silver Sable.
Actually, since S.H.I.E.L.D. Deputy Director Maria Hill appears as Black Widow's mission control, that's actually three hot lady spies in one story. How can this issue ever fail?!
The Black Widow's mission is to infiltrate an A.I.M. base. The base is only small, but they have a data connection to A.I.M. HQ, and the Widow's job is to use that link to grab a list of all upcoming A.I.M. missions. You can see how that might be handy for S.H.I.E.L.D. to have. You can also imagine that somebody looking to earn a few bucks might also be after the same data.
And... that's how come Black Widow bumps into Silver Sable. Both of them are on the job, trying to grab the data. One for the good guys, and one for a good profit.
The Widow manages to grab the disk, and then the girls head for the exit. But when the Widow gets tagged with a ray-gun blast, Silver Sable does the decent thing and heads back to rescue her competitor.
That puts the Widow in Sable's debt... momentarily. One page later, Silver Sable gets grabbed by a jet-pack propelled A.I.M. agent, and the Widow decides to breaks mission protocol to rescue Silver, despite that choice placing the data (and hence the mission) at risk.
So the score is one-all, and Widow holds the prize. When S.H.I.E.L.D. drops in to pick up the Widow from the rooftop, Silver Sable is nowhere in sight. The Black Widow used her initiative and arranged a truce. S.H.I.E.L.D. gets the data disk. Silver Sable gets to leave the scene with no fuss.
To be honest, I was too busy looking at artist John Royle's sexy super-heroine poses to pay to much attention to the story-line. But going back on a second pass to check out the plot, it's really not too bad.
There's a moral buried deep in the tale, I think. Something about sisters-in-arms. Or one good turn deserving another. Or honor among spies. That kind of thing.
I do feel that the final deal was a little bit lop-sided. Sure, Silver Sable was a thief, while Black Widow was a government-sanctioned agent. But I'm sure Sable could have skipped the scene any time she wanted before the S.H.I.E.L.D. reinforcements arrived. She basically left, empty-handed, of her own free choice. The Widow came out better off, if you ask me!
Three sexy, sultry super-spy webs.
According the early analysis of the A.I.M. intel... the very next target was... somewhere in New York!
It's not much of a connection, but there's our obligatory lead-in to Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) #26 (Story 2).