Spider-Man Heroes & Villains Collection (UK) #12

 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 'Slay Time'

Professor Alistaire Smythe is at the Daily Bugle office of J. Jonah Jameson, demonstrating his latest Spider-Slayer - much as his late father did before him. This time, Smythe has produced an autonomous, thinking and talking humanoid-formed robot which "has full access to the world wide web" which it can use to find new information to defeat its foes - i.e. Spider-Man. Even better, this robot has no "OFF" switch. Like a terminator, it absolutely will not stop until, etc...

Let's put aside the question of how the robot is going to get a decent WiFi connection as he roams around the city. Instead, let's follow the action as the Spider-Slayer begins his mission by accessing the Internet to determine the best way of quickly attracting Spider-Man. His research instantly suggest the most reliable mechanism is to simply destroy Jonah's office. Similarly, kidnaping Jonah is a standard move that other villains have performed, so the Spider-Slayer follows suit. Naturally, Jonah is far from impressed, given that he's the one paying for all of this.

Spider-Man arrives promptly, and struggles to overcome the robot on the physical front. The machine is fast, intelligent, and well-equipped with all sorts of anti-Spidey devices. In exasperation, Spidey tells the robot to check out a few web-sites on "law and order". The robot resists, as part of his programming forbids him from accessing such information. However, the self-learning side of his software overcomes this restriction, and the Spider-Slayer suddenly realises that his actions are very wrong according to all legal and moral standards.

Instantly the robot ceases his attack - just in time to save our hero who was at the mercy of the killer-android. Instead, the Slayer turns on his creator Professor Smythe, Jr. and accuses him of giving robots a bad name. "Are we not misunderstood enough?" he demands of his former master in a wonderful stereotype-shattering moment.

Alistaire is naturally incensed by this rebellion and whips back his labcoat to reveal an array of experimental weapons which he personally uses to attack Spider-Man. The former killer robot (now armed with a conscience and fully reformed in his ways) leaps into the line of fire to protect his former target, Spider-Man. He pays with his own cybernetic "life".

As the dust settles, Spidey steps in to neatly KO the Professor and bring the entire scenario to a conclusion. All that is left is for Spider-Man to muse how Jameson (as he sits amidst the rubble of his press room) is going to twist the headlines of the upcoming Daily Bugle issue to somehow make things out to all be the webslinger's fault.

General Comments

There is still much about this story to despise. Stand-in artist Richard Elson replaces Ant Williams, but the result is still one notch below mediocre. The scripting is equally as amateurish - every character talks like a teenager, with Jonah being particularly fond of saying that things are "Cool!" The Spider-Slayer holds his cybernetic dialog for much of the time, but breaks it at a critical moment to declare that he has "Wised Up!" before reverting to a suitably robotic form of speech.

But despite all those basic flaws, I must confess that the underlying plot is built on a perfect gem of an idea. At one point, the death-dealing Spider-Slayer turns on his creator and demands that Smythe shakes hands with Spider-Man and that the Professor and Spider-Man must "learn to understand each other". It's a very special moment.

Overall Rating

In a moment of forgiveness, I'm going to shatter the previously perfect run of 1-web ratings to offer an "adequate" recommendation of three webs for this issue.

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