Marvel Super Heroes Adventures #1 Review
Marvel decides to try their hand at All Ages material again, but it’s like someone made a wish on the Monkey’s Paw.
Every once in a while, Marvel tries their hand at books intended for All Ages. Sometimes, the reader is rewarded with a bundle of gems like the Power Pack team-up books or the Marvel Adventures line from the mid-2000s. Other times, Marvel releases bonkers books like 1974 series Spidey Super Stories, featuring work from some of Marvel’s brightest on a book best described as an acid trip for kids. Unfortunately, we also often wind up getting bipolar productions like Marvel Super Heroes Adventures #1.
Written by Jim McCann and with art by Dario Brizuela, Marvel Super Heroes Adventures is also Marvel’s newest attempt at parlaying the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s popularity with today’s kids into comic sales. This is a completely earnest attempt to do so, but may turn off as many readers as it attracts. Our tale, “Spider-Man and the Stolen Vibranium,” begins with Spider-Man stopping a jewel thief randomly out of nowhere. He then begins to lecture the crook about the value of… sharing.
And then the acid kicks in, and it’s revealed that our quite passable action was just a framing story for the real meat-and-potatoes of this book. Black Panther calls Spider-Man out of the blue because something is rotten in the state of Wakanda. While Black Panther refuses to comment on whom is causing trouble in his country, he knows that one of Spider-Man’s many foes has come to steal his country’s Vibranium. It seems to be the big touristy thing to do.
Luckily, T’Challa has sent an aircraft to go fetch Spider-Man from New York and bring him to Wakanda. After fighting several eight-limbed giant robots, Spider-Man realizes that it’s his old foe, Doctor Octopus! A rather well-done fight ensues, and both Black Panther and Spider-Man work together to take Doctor Octopus down.
As a nice bonus, and showing that Marvel knows their demographic, they’ve even included a sneak peek at a chapter book: Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Sand Trap!. The best part? It features Squirrel Girl.
This is actually not a bad attempt at reviving an All Ages book concept. The action is solid, the dialogue feels playful but not complicated, and the book doesn’t treat the audience like they’re stupid. The framing story is awkward, but works as a presentation format similar to a Saturday morning cartoon show. However, the framing execution itself throws a real wrench into the book.
While the opening and ending with the book feature Spider-Man as we all know him, a small problem with the art shows up once we get into the tale Spider-Man tells the thief:
While Brizuela is a very respectable artist, having worked on a few issues of Marvel Adventures and the enjoyable Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers. However, it seems like he just cannot decide between the Marvel Super Hero Squad or standard Marvel proportions, and the book suffers for it. Spider-Man is left looking like a novelty toy, while Black Panther and the people of Wakanda simply look almost normal by comparison. Also, Doctor Octopus is hilariously ripped for someone who’s traditionally been more of a heavyset villain.
Marvel Super Hero Adventures #1 sets out what it does to do: Tell an adventure featuring Spider-Man and a new person-of-the-month having fun and beating up bad guys. There’s no angst, as Spider-Man is a happy-go-lucky bundle of wisecracks. While it’s obvious that Doctor Octopus is going to lose in the end, we never get a worry about some of the darker villainous antics he’s done in recent years even being mentioned. In short, it’s a perfect book for the younger crowd.
The only problem is, the book seems to alienate older readers at the same time. The art style shift feels like shifting gears without a clutch, and that alone can easily turn off readers who expect the more realistic style found in most Marvel books. It’s entirely possible to work past it, and a fun, short story awaits those who do.