15 July 2007

Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #4

The Marvel Adventures line of comics are targeted specially towards the kids and I think it's one of the few excellent ideas to come out from the House of Ideas in recent years. If you have a small child who's interested in reading, I suggest you hand him or her something from the Marvel Adventures catalog. The core Marvel titles (or Marvel 616 in geek-speak) are so heavy with continuity and dark gritty stories that they are practically unwelcoming to the new reader regardless of age.

Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man features single issue stories that ignores whatever kind of mess that is going on in the core titles right now. It's all pure, stupid fun. The best kind of fun. In this book, Peter Parker's still a high school going teen who works as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle. And the best issue so far is issue #4, "GOOM GOT GAME". Best because it's all sorts of funny written by Jeff Parker.

Jeff Parker is quickly becoming my favourite comics writer. He wrote the excellent Agents of Atlas mini series, among other things. He belongs to the school of thought that believes comics should be fun and silly. Sure, he can write hardcore but he prefers the stupid fun route. I Heart Jeff Parker.

In "Goom Got Game", Johnny Storm a.k.a Human Torch of the Fantastic Four finds that a message from an alien called Goom is picked up by the FF's super computer thingamajig in their Baxter Building HQ. Johnny flies off to find Spider-Man after he thinks he accidentally cut off Goom in mid-message. Spidey, Johnny figures, is smart enough to retrieve the message and probably can be trusted not to squeal to the rest of the FF about Johnny's mistake.

It turns out that it was not a message from Goom that Johnny intercepted. It was Goom himself and he's coming to Earth.

Yup, that's right. The big guy speaks Gangsta'. So naturally, Spidey asks Goom where he learned to speak it. I mean, wouldn't you?

Turns out, dawg got his mad props from watching broadcast signals of MTV, NFL and Jerry Springer, yo! And he's hungry. He wants to eat gold. Lots of gold. When Goom can't get dem gold, Goom loses it. Big time. The heroes lead him to the ocean:

"Ahoy! Mind if I blast a monster from the side of your boat?", Spidey asks the Captain. "Knock yourself out...", he answers. Now that's a BWA-HA-HA-HA moment right there. Spidey uses the remote unit he found at the FF's headquarters and zaps Goom back to the Negative Zone from whence he came.

Parker's humourous dialogue coupled with Patrick Scherberger's and Norman Lee's pencils and inks make this my favourite issue of all the Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man issues so far. It's a cute story where everything is just right. This is a comic that can be read by a parent to a child and might just hook the kid to the innovative idea of reading a book. Besides, this is a much better read than the current Spidey adventures in Amazing Spider-Man: "See, son, Aunt May is in a coma because she was shot by a bad guy...Hmm? Oh, that half naked lady is Spidey's wife. No, she's a super-model. Anyway, that's Eddie Brock who used to be Venom. Venom's a bad version of Spider-Man. He has a twelve foot tongue and he wants to eat Spider-Man's brain..." Yeah, that's not gonna happen in the Khairul household.

This issue is included in a hardcover collection of Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man Volume One. Get it from Amazon. Thanks to Jeff Parker et al for giving kids something they can read on a lazy afternoon without all that continuity crap to worry about. Recommended.

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