Comics : The Story of Spider-Man
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club
This review was first published on: 2003.
Dorling Kindersley, aka "DK" are a prolific publisher, focussing on non-fiction books, typically with a high graphical content. Among their huge range are a small handful of Marvel titles, most famously the "Ultimate Spider-Man" and "Ultimate X-Men" titles.
They also have a range of "Dorling Kindersley Readers", grouped into four categories of reading skills, from "1 - Beginning to Read", through to "4 - Proficient Readers". Among these "DK Readers" are two titles featuring Spider-Man, namely "The Story of Spider-Man", and "Spider-Man's Amazing Powers". Both of these are level 4 books, which appear to be targeting the pre-teen audience.
Both books are 48 pages, 6" x 8" in size. Both are available in three printing formats, soft-cover, hard-cover, and "library binding". Both the hard-cover and library bindings are hard covers without dust jacket. However, the more pricy hardcover is actually far more attractive than the rather cheap and cheerful library binding. In fact, the library binding seems to be constructed by taking a paperback version (perhaps they had heaps left over) and slapping a glossy photo-copied heavy card cover onto it. If you're looking for a gift, I recommend you spend a little extra on the hard-cover edition.
Whereas the more detailed "Ultimate Spider-Man" was written by well-known Marvel writer Tom DeFalco, these two books were assembled by editors/writers with no obvious Marvel background. Given the target audience, that doesn't seem to be a problem.
The Story of Spider-Man
Sep 2001 : SM Title
Find ISBN 0789479214
"The Story of Spider-Man" is a general intro the the basics of Spider-Man. In fairly large print (about 23 lines per page), the reader is introduced to Spider-Man's creation by Lee and Ditko, with a clear explanation of what made Peter Parker different to the previous heroes. The accident which gave him his powers, his friends, his bookworm nature, his family, all of these are covered in clear language. Subsequent sections discuss Mary Jane and Gwen, Jonah, Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Venom, and various other enemies.
Each page also features a side-bar which picks out a topic for a little detailed paragraph in smaller print. Pictures are liberally used in the sidebar, and on the main pages. Some of the sidebar topics are things from the comic, such as Spidey's ability to make a web-parachute, or quirky facts like Aunt May nearly marrying Doc Ock. Others are real-life facts, such as nifty facts about real Octopii.
I'm pretty sure that DK has a bit of a formula for these books, but there's no doubt that they know their stuff. All in all, this book would certainly give a young Spider-Fan a great insight into the background of their favourite character. There's a tidy little index at the back, and a glossary of "tricky words", like "Domination", and "Paralyze".
Well-targeted, nicely balanced, and lots of fun for a pre-teen reader. Let's give it four-webs, and a recommendation as a perfect present!