When I first encountered Dungeons and Dragons, I was a big fan of Marvel Comics. With each new attempt, I have hoped for a system that would allow me to run a game in the world that coloured my youth. On one level, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying from Margaret Weis Productions supplies that.
The rules are fairly clear and cover the aspects needed to play here. This is not a rules-heavy game, by any means, so folks can be up and playing as soon as the Watcher has read them through. In most games, the Watcher would be the GM, but MWP continues their cute idea from Smallville of tying that job to an aspect of the background. Conflicts are settled with a system of roll vs. counter-roll, with ties going to the defender, as in Risk. If there is no obvious opponent, as in the hero trying to break down a door or leap from rooftop to rooftop, the Watcher can either let the attempt succeed or roll with the Doom Pool.
While it is possible to use other characters, either adapted from the comics or created from whole cloth, the main attraction in this game is the opportunity to play fan favourrites like Spidey, Cap and Wolverine, and the sourcebook supplies more than enough choices: Avengers, X-men, Fantastic Four and more. The Breakout adventure included in this book includes game writeups on a variety of villains as well as giving the players a chance to rework a published story.
Physically, the book is well-presented and lavishly illustrated. It manages to put all the players need into a mere 264 pages including covers.
That being said, the simplicity of the game and the tendency to recycle published stories as adventures ( Breakout, Civil War) present weaknesses for the experienced, serious roleplayer. The Marvel readers who provide the core demographic for this game have probably already read these "Events," which provide copious spoilers.
For new or casual gamers, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is a great buy. For those who seek a real challenging game, keep looking.