Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #18

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
In the first story, The Thinker accidentally builds an antimatter bomb into one of the Green Goblins normal pumpkin bombs, and Spidey must stop him from throwing it, or contain it in a device the Thinker devised. In the second story Madame Masque buys a New York tenement, kicks out the occupants and stages a fire fight against Spidey, when he investigates.

These are the kinds of stories you think about when you imagine a kids book. They're the kind of stories I hated as a kid because adults believe that kids will only read stories involving kids. Hence, you ended up with Wendy and Marvin and the Wonder Twins as point of view characters in Super Friends, when all the kids wanted to see was Challenge of the Super Friends in which the world's mightiest heroes creamed the clocks of their arch villains. No siblings. No twins.

So, anyway. The first story is juxtaposed against a dodge ball game. The dodge ball game is just as important as the whole blow up Manhattan plot. Tobin spends quite a bit of time characterizing the bully, the bully's friend and the dweeb targeted by the bully in dodge ball.

Somehow, these kids follow Spidey up to the roof, and Spidey aware of them tells them to call the cops when he webs up the Thinker. If their involvement stopped there, this story might have been solidly okay. Unfortunately, they continue to trail the web-slinger, despite the danger or the Spidey speed.

The whole enchilada creates a bizarre tone in which the Green Goblin essentially a mad bomber throws down ordinance at people, stores, etc. while these kids watch the entirety untouched. When the stories collide, the resulting product becomes predictable because the kids are protected by the Comics Code Authority. You also know that somehow the dweeb's failure in dodgeball will end up being a success in real life. At least Tobin, doesn't go full-out One to Grow On. The bully remains a bully and learns very little.

The second story is a little better kid-wise. I can believe that on a slow day, Spidey helps a family move into their apartment and a smart kid inspires him to come up with an idea to thwart modern technology. It's still however unpolished.

Why does Madame Masque buy the tenemant in question? We're never given a rationale for her actions. Madame Masque has deep pockets. Why didn't she secure other dwellings for the tenants? Criminals don't like to spend money, but her actions are foolhardy. They're bound to attract attention. If whatever she needs a building for is huge, it might warrant an extra cash flow to legitimate areas. Of course, since we don't know what her plan is, we don't know the stakes. We don't know why that particular building is so vital to her plans. We only get half a story, and that's not enough.

Robert DiSalvo and Terry Pallot illustrate with their usual consummate skill. Visually the bully from the first story is a fine creation, but it's almost a waste of art.

Marvel Super Heroes is starting a run of reprints from Marvel Adventures Avengers and Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four. I hope this issue of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man is just a bad fluke, and Tobin returns to the unique continuity of the title. That's why people of all ages buy this book. Not the presence of kids in trite vignettes.

Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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