Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #11

 Posted: Dec 2010
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)


This is a 60-part weekly series being pumped into the market by Eaglemoss publications. They don't know much about Spidey, but they know that 60 * $8.99 = quite a lot. And I'm the kind of idiot who will spend that sort of money without doing the math.

There's an original 7-page story in every issue, and collectible trading cards too. Sure, the stories are terrible, the art is ghastly, and the price is far, far too high. But there's glossy paper, trading cards, and an original Spider-Man comic strip series that 99% of the U.S. collectors will never own!

Story 'An Offer You Can't Refuse!'

Before we start our new storyline, did I mention that the front and back cover art on each issue isn't original art at all? Certainly I can see why the marketing guys would insist on recycled material, since the new artwork for the main story is complete and utter rubbish. Hence the cover art always consists of some decent-quality stuff from other previous Spidey books, clipped out and photoshopped onto a stock background. The final result is cheap but effective, just the opposite of the magazine itself which is overpriced and useless.

Now back to our regular scheduled programming. The super-tough street tough-man Tombstone is out and about, visiting the local thugs and telling everyone that they no longer work for the Sinister Six, they work for Tombstone.

Woah, back up the truck there. The Sinister Six were gangsters? What... the Lizard used to send out his goons to collect the daily takings from his street girls? Sandman's mob were running numbers? Can Sandman even count? Electro's boys were selling crack down in the 'hood? And since when was even Tombstone a gang boss? He's the hired muscle, he ain't no mastermind.

In any case, he ain't no mastermind of fashion. For some bizarre reason, Tombstone is wearing a forest green bodysuit with a brown belt, and a plunging V-line neck with a high raised collar that ends somewhere halfway up the back of his head. The general effect is "Super-Buff Dracula at the Gay Disco".

Spidey swings in, but isn't able to stop Tombstone walking off with a couple of new recruits. More sort of unwilling conscripts, perhaps. I certainly won't feel safe going anywhere with Tombstone. Especially nowhere near a Turkish Bath, or even a Cabaret.

But that's not the end of it all. Hammerhead rolls up in his limosine and helps himself to the one remaining thug, a guy with spikes in his face. Then again, who doesn't have spikes in their face these days. Kids today, huh? What can you do.

Scene change, to the Daily Bugle. "Spikez" and his pals turn up as agents of Hammerhead and demand protection money from Jonah Jameson. Spider-Man also arrives on the scene, but the Hammerhead Homeboys tell him there's nothing illegal about demanding cash for security services. I'm not entirely sure that's true. Demanding money with menaces is actually a crime. But let's not let the facts stand in the way of a bad story.

Spidey starts webbing people up, and then Hammerhead himself arrives and lays into the webhead. Team Tombstone arrives moments after, and it's a "manglage a trois". Oh what's a Spider-Man to do?! It would take a brick wall to stop Hammerhead, and nothing short of a battering ram is going to put a dent in Tombstone. Say... doesn't that give you an idea?

Yeah, it's that old trick. Spider-Man plays "piggy-in-the-middle" and manages to get Hammerhead to charge head-first into Tombstone. It's a double-KO and the day is saved. Or is it? With only half a page to go, the story unwisely attemps to wring out some sort of dramatic punchline. It goes like this:

The kid "Spikez" (who was working for Hammerhead) is mad at Spider-Man and pulls out his handgun (in front of all the cops who have gathered to deal with the situation, but who for some inexplicable reason are just wandering around doing nothing in particular). Despite the gun pointed at his back, Spidey's Spider-Sense forgets to go off, and so he misses the opportunity to intervene what happens next. Specifically, he doesn't interfere as one of Tombstone's boys also pulls out a gun (again, in front of all the cops) and plugs Spikez twice in the back as he is running away.

Why is Spikez running away? He pulled out his gun and vowed to shoot Spidey, but in the next panel he's fired no shots and is facing the other direction. Why in fact would the other thug decide to shoot Spikez in front of all the cops anyhow? He has no motive at all. Tombstone and Hammerhead were unconscious, so it wasn't to impress anybody. He had no loyalty to Tombstone, having been cooerced into the job. Surely the thug wasn't defending Spider-Man? No explanation at all is given for the murder.

But wait, it gets even sillier. Spider-Man and all three cops just stand and watch as "The Hoods... melt away into the crowd." That's right. Three cops and one super hero just watched the murder, then stood flat-footed as the killers just meandered off into the distance. You what?

All this is in half a page, and there's still room for a final awful panel. Spider-Man later writes a story about Spikez for the Daily Bugle, and then gives it secretly to Robbie Robertson... including photos. So, what, Spider-Man pulled out his camera and took photos of the dying Spikez instead of taking him to the hospital? The intended point of the Daily Bugle story? "Maybe it'll make other kids top thinking that gangs and guns are cool!"

There's your ironic social message, kids! The story spends six pages in a cool Spider-Man story featuring gangs, then the last panel is about how uncool gangs are.

General Comments

I would like to give this story credit for attempting to have "a point to it all". But I can't, because the execution is so abysmal on every level. The denoument makes as much sense as filling your bathtub with brightly-colored machine tools. Plot flaw is piled on top of incongrous plot flaw - possibly under the theory that "if the story becomes sufficiently incomprehensible, it might somehow get misinterpreted as having deep meaning." Let me assure you, this does not turn out to be the case.

Look, it's one thing to have an idea. Clearly the writer (or his helpful kid) had an idea something like....

"Yeah, I'm gonna write this really meaningful story about a young man who thinks he's cool and gets mixed up in a gang but then he gets shot and it's really sad and really meaningful about how you shouldn't be in gangs because you might think it's cool but really it's really not cool at all 'cos you might get shot and that's not cool."

Fine. But as a writer, that's just the first step down along road with a finished story at the end. Your job then is to take that plot concept and build a fully-formed story around it. You have to introduce the elements that support it and give meaning and context to the idea. You need characters and interactions that lead inevitably to your poignant tragedy. This did not even remotely happen in this story.

Overall Rating

The one bright point would be the perfectly compatible mutual self-destruction between Hammerhead and Tombstone, but any good that came from that brief chuckle is quickly destroyed by the tragically mishandled attempt at a "serious" finish.

In conclusion, this is yet another epic fail from this magazine. One web.

 Posted: Dec 2010
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)