Comics : Spider-Man's Terrifically Tangled Wordwebs

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club

This review was first published on: May 2011.

Background...

Back in the mid/late 70's Tempo Books was (as far as I'm yet aware) the first publisher to produce a series of Marvel tie-in puzzle books. Printed in a handy 5.25" x 8" square-bound format, these books are tough to find now in top-notch condition, and are prized by many collectors.

In Detail...

Spider-Man's Terrifically Tangled Wordwebs
Year 1977 : SM Title
Find ISBN 0448127415
Publisher:  Tempo Books
Writer:  Wayne Williams
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 Contained In: The Amazing Spider-Man Activity Box Set (4 Books)

Wayne Williams was the creator of Spidey's Wall-Crawler Wordwebs, the first book in this series. He's back again with a re-vamped version in "Spider-Man's Terrifically Tangled Wordwebs".

The formula is the same as the first book. A crossword grid is provided, and all the words are given. You are given the position of one "starter" word, and then it's up to you to figure out where the rest of them fit. It's a little bit like a simplified "Sudoku". The only real difference is that the puzzles are marginally more complex. The words a bit longer this time, and there's a few more of them perhaps.

Otherwise the book's format is the same. 64 pages. B&W illustrations from contemporary comics. 24 puzzles, with the answers at the end.

In General...

I should clarify here that the generally positive reviews I've been giving these books is from an objective point of view. From a purely selfish, subjective point of view, these aren't actually puzzles that I personally would enjoy doing. When I want a book of puzzles for a long plane flight, I reach for a book of cryptic crosswords - the Guardian or the Daily Telegraph are about right for me. The Times is too hard.

I'll spare you the mini-rave about how cryptic crosswords are more like an art than a science, and how each cryptic clue is a unique hand-crafted gem. Suffice to say that I personally find Sudoku, word-find, word-webs, and such-like "follow the formula" puzzles far too mindless and analytical. I work with computers for a living, and I know that given an hour or two I could write a program to solve any Sudoku in the world. Sure, Sudoku will keep your brain working, in the same way that chewing gum will stop your jaw from seizing up. But I don't chew gum either. Especially not on planes.

Now, before all you Sudoku fans out there track me down via Google maps and burn down my house, let me add... Chacun à son goût. Or in English... Whatever floats your boat, baby. I fully recognize that not everybody does puzzles for the same reason, and not everybody shares my tastes. And if you were looking for something to entertain a twelve year old on a plane flight back in 1977, then you probably couldn't do better than Spider-Man's Terrifically Tangled Wordwebs!

Overall Rating...

Despite my well-stated reservations about the purely linear nature of the puzzle-solving process in this book, I still think it was a wonderful product, and a great collectible. I'm awarding this follow-up version four more fabulous webs!