HEROES

The Fan Fiction Fanzine

Reviews to You #1

By • Aug 9th, 2009 • Category: Reviews

SUPERVILLAIN WAR #1-#12 by Meriades Rai

http://www.ironrodstudio.com/av2000/issues/SVW/SVWGatefold.htm
What could be better than some of Marvel’s biggest superheroes and villains summoned to an alien world to fight each other in a massive battle royale? How about taking two-score of some of the meanest, cruelest, nastiest criminals ever to step into super-character spandex, and summon them to an alien world to fight each other in a massive battle royale? That’s exactly what fanfic veteran Meriades Rai has done in SUPERVILLAIN WAR, featuring the cosmic entity the Grandmaster trapping a number of supervillains for a truly vicious contest. The winner gets whatever they want-literally.

Meri has selected a wide variety of villains to fight in this alien arena, ranging from dangerous badasses like Lady Deathstrike and Mister Hyde to
also-rans like the Needle and Firebrand to characters generally considered losers, like the Armadillo, the Spot and the Trapster. Readers of the
Avengers, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and almost every other major Marvel hero or team will be able to find some of their hero’s major antagonists here. As such, he’s ended up with one of the biggest casts in any crossover I’ve ever read, and Meri admits he may have bit off more than he could chew, but in truth he does an excellent job balancing the cast and giving most of them their times in the spotlight.

I am, I admit, not the most avid or devoted Marvel reader, but Meri’s characterization of most of the villains seems spot on, and he gives brief
flashbacks from official Marvel canon to fill in the details for us ignoramuses who don’t know all these characters. Some of them (Bullseye,
Sabertooth) you can really hate and want to see die a horrible, screaming death, while others (Jack’O'Lantern, Tarot, Blizzard, Slyde, Black Mamba)
you can feel real sympathy for-they don’t deserve to be here, and Meri does a great job evoking empathy for the people who are caught up in the
Grandmaster’s sinister game. Some of the characters are also genuinely hilarious…namely, of course, the White Rabbit.

The meat of the story is also very evocative, as far as the villains go-none of them are ever really portrayed as incompetent losers, and almost all of
them get in a shot where they are about to annihilate some of the competition. Without spoiling matters, it’s especially noteworthy that some
of the characters long portrayed as washed-up has-beens in official Marvel canon get to really kick ass and take names, which is something really
special. Rehabilitating “losers” is something more comic writers really need to do.

If there is a criticism to be made of Meri’s work, it is not in the effort or execution-both of which are fantastic-but perhaps more the far-reaching
effects this sort of thing has on the greater Avengers 2000 continuity. With so many characters biting the dust, this could really cramp the plans
of a lot of other writers. To be fair, this is one of the weaknesses of a shared universe, but taking so many characters all at once seems to me to be a bit much.

All the same, the sheer effort Meri puts forth in both the scale and execution of this project cannot be denied. For this, Meri deserves full
props and heartfelt congratulations.

Even so…just what is it with Meri and rabbits, anyway?


ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN by Dino Pollard

http://marvel.omegacen.com/ultspidey.html
Newly enrolled at Empire State University, science genius Peter Parker works as lab assistant to biophysicist Dr. Curt Connors, whose research involves the combining of human and animal DNA to better mankind. When Peter is accidentally bitten by a spider Connors is using in his research. He begins to develop the traits of a spider, all while being a man! Peter’s life is about to be turned upside down when he meets with Norman Osborn, the man funding Connors’ research. Osborn has a very, very interesting offer for the young Parker…

Dino Pollard’s re-imagining of the Spider-mythos is full of Easter eggs and other homages to past versions of the story, from the classic cartoon’s
theme song to the different titles proposed for a TV show that figures crucially in the plot to the name Niels Van Adder. Don’t recognize it? I
didn’t either until I Googled it, which just goes to show how much research and effort Dino puts into his work.

Many of the characters are as they normally appear in other variants of the tale: Peter Parker the confused young man trying to make his way in the
world; Harry Osborn the neglected son suffering from the alternate disdain and ignorance of his father; May the caring, doting aunt (although
thankfully not as overplayed as it has been in the comics); Ben the level-headed father figure; Mary Jane the aspiring actress trying to attract
Peter’s notice. One of Dino’s greatest strengths is the natural dialogue he can write for each one-it’s not too hard for the reader to discern the basic personality traits and drives of each one, without whacking them over the head with it, and also sounds like what real people in their positions would say. The relationships between the cast are one of the strongest elements of the Spider-mythos, and so far Pollard has done a very good job juggling them. One of the best parts, especially, is how well he handles the Internet dialogue between Peter and MJ.

One of the most fun parts of a re-imagining along the lines of an Ultimate interpretation is seeing what the author does to shake up the readers’
expectations. Dino’s approach has mixed results here. First off, it must be said that his rendition of Flash is absolutely hilarious, and is likely
going to be the series’ trademark running gag. The way in which Dino gets Spider-Man into costume for the first time and suggests a use for his powers is both highly original and ties rather well into today’s media culture. It provides a great way for Spider-Man to either be loved or hated by the public…and chances are it’s going to be both. Other strengths include the characters of Doctor Connors and the way in which Peter is bitten by the spider-again, Dino handles it in a very natural manner.

On the other hand, the re-imagining seems disappointingly limited. As I said, one of the most fun things of a re-imagining is seeing what new spins
the author puts on the characters and what original twists he can pull out of his hat. However, in a way, apart from the ways in which Spider-Man is first introduced to the world, and the characterizations of Flash and Doctor Connors, Dino doesn’t seem to really get the most out of the chance to make the characters his own. Of course, it’s still fairly early in the series, despite the issue number, and so there’s still time to put a personal stamp on them.

The other more minor critique is that of the story’s slow pace. Dino seems to be following in the footsteps of Brian Michael Bendis in drawing the
story arcs out over several issues, only getting into some serious spider-action every few issues. Again, Dino uses this to advantage, giving
the audience time to get to know the characters, but I’m sure lots of us would love to see his versions of the Scorpion, Mysterio, or Electro.

All this aside, Dino deserves full commendation for his characterization, dialogue, and the original changes he does make, even if they are somewhat limited in scope. His homages and research also show just how much of a background he has with our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, as well as just how much potential this series has, the surface of which has only been scratched.

is a 32 year old happily married man who loves comics and the characters associated with them so much he writers Fan Fiction based on them. Currently He is the Editor in Chief of Altered Visions, Marvel Reborn, and Ultimate DC.
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