Comics : Spider-Man: Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

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

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Among the movie book tie-ins for the 2002 Spider-Man Movie were the two "Festival Readers" books aimed at the 4-6 age band, and also these two stories targetted towards the 6-8 age group. The Festival Readers books were 6" x 9" format, with drawn illustrations and just a couple of short sentences per page. By comparison, these two books are 5" x 7.5" chapter books.

There's 64 pages, with up to 20 lines of text per page, and a photo every two or three pages just too keep up the interest. All of the photos are taken directly from the movie. The other book in this pair is Spider-Man: Spider Bite.

Note: There's also a U.K. printing of these books. The U.S. book is released by "Avon Books", while the UK printing is under the parent label, HarperCollins. The ISBN for the U.K. version of "Spider Bite" is 0-00-713799-0. Note also that hardcover editions exist of the U.S. editions.

In Detail...

Spider-Man: Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Mar 2002 : SM Title
Find ISBN 0064421767
Publisher:  HarperCollins Publishers
Writer:  Kitty Richards
Photographer:  Steve Kahn, Zade Rosenthal
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Review

Whereas the other book in this pair (Spider-Man: Spider Bite) stuck closely to the film script, this companion tale heads off into fresh territory. The book is a similar format to the first in terms of font and layout, however there a few key differences.

The story is based around Peter's work as a newspaper photographer, and his double life as a super-hero. The story consists of fewer, longer chapters, each one after the first being a mini-adventure. They all follow a similar pattern... Peter goes to the bank, and runs into a hold-up, which he foils as Spider-Man. Repeat for Peter goes to a baseball game and foils a jewel thief (hmm... cue "baseball diamond" puns). Peter goes to a county fair with Aunt May and Spider-Man saves a little girl in a runaway hot-air balloon. Peter sits on a bus and becomes Spidey to rescue some people from a fire. Heck, Peter can't even go down to the corner store to get some butter without foiling a robbery.

The majority of the photos are taken from the movie, however there are a few photos clearly taken later, specifically shot for this book. Each chapter features a mock-up "Daily Bugle" cover with a photo, and some pseudo-journalism text wrapped around it. I suspect that the very last photo in the book might actually be a Stan Lee cameo, but it's a little hard to tell for sure.

In General...

Sadly, Kitty Richards' writing is just a little disappointing. The five chapters all follow the same well-worn formula, and lack any freshness at all. The actual stories are all "Oh no! Now the little girl is floating away in the balloon! Can Spidey save the little girl?" Worse still... "Spider-Man stopped the bank robber! But he forgot to bank his paycheck, and his rent bounced! Poor Peter!"

Basically, they're rubbish - which is sad, given that the other three kids stories tied into the film are all pretty good.

Spider-Man: Spider Bite was a good adaption of the movie, whereas this was by contrast a perfect example of how to create a meaningless and valueless movie tie-in with a hackneyed series of cliche-ridden "me too" tales.

Overall Rating...

Nicely presented, but trite and disappointing content. Two webs.