Title: Riot at Robotworld
Release Date: 1991
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Alex Saviuk
Villain: Ultron and an assortment of Animatronic Robots, lack of opportunity for academically gifted but socioeconomically disadvantaged youths
Plot: Spider-Man, in his civilian identity of Peter Parker, is reporting on Robotworld, an exhibition of science and technology, particularly robots. He is befriended by Ana Lopez, and three minority youths who won an essay writing contest. As they tour the exhibit, they learn about robots. Robots aren't like they are in the movies---they are mostly used for industrial projects, and can't actaully move around and interact like The Terminator and Robocop do. This lecture is spoiled when Ultron takes over and gets the animatronic robots, including models of The Terminator and Robocop, to attack the exhibit. Spider-Man fights off Ultron and his robots, but Ana Lopez saves the day by shutting Ultron down with a radio set. There is then a concluding lecture about how students can enter college if they are academically prepared, through earning scholarships.
In case that last sentence made no sense, this comic was put together as a joint venture between Marvel Comics and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. I know that Marvel has put out several message comics before, but I hadn't heard of this one, perhaps because of the niche market it was targetting. So this comic must be judged on two fronts: as a comic book, and as a missionary work dedicated towards advancing engineering amongst the disenfranchised. As a comic book, it actually isn't bad---the art is pretty good, clean and dynamic, and seems to be the same as would appear in a commercial comic of the period. The story is okay, if somewhat hokey, but there is only so much depth you can get into in sixteen pages. As far as its other topic, the promotion of minorities in engineering, it seems tacked on, and not very skillfully at that. The three minority youths that take the tour of Robotworld with Spider-Man don't have any role in the story other than watching the tour, and then watching Spider-Man fight some robots. Ana Lopez, their tour guide does make the winning save by shutting down Ultron via radio, but that is just a single event. It would be more interesting if the teenagers' academic aspirations were worked more closely into the story.
Look around at the world you see around you: a world, where, despite many people's efforts, disopportunity and oppression still reign, especially for bright teenagers who are unsure whether they can make it in the world of engineering. All because Marvel couldn't make a suitable message comic back in 1991.