Comics : Spider-Man Magical Story (Parragon, 2016)
This review was first published on: 22 Nov 2016.
This hardcover book is 7.2" x 9" with 32 pages. Published by Parragon, which means you're probably only going to find this in the UK market.
At first glance, this 2016 product looks like a simple re-issue of the identically-named and sized Spider-Man Magical Story (Parragon, 2013) from three years previous, which itself is a simple downsized reprint of the modern classic The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story.
But not at all. The artwork for this story is actually all-new, courtesy of Ron Lim's pencils and Chris Sotomayor's colors. The plot is new as well, although it owes something to "Peter fights Doc Ock" from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #12, with a hint of "Flash pretends to be Spider-Man" from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #5.
Spider-Man Magical Story (Parragon, 2016)
Sep 2016 : SM Title
Find ISBN 9781474864398
Summary: Black Lenticular Cover (Rewritten from 2013)
In deference to modern style, we open with a slightly fourth-wall-breaking self-introduction by Spider-Man, who gives us the quick run-down on Peter Parker, and the Midtown High-School gang featuring MJ and Flash.
The Sinister Six get a quick mention, before we cut to the warm-up battle between Spidey and Sandman. As thanks for saving the kids at the beach from Sandman's menacing (but somewhat inexplicable) attack, Spidey receives a sneeze in the face.
The next day, Peter awakes with a cold. But Spider-Man can't catch flu... he has "too many bad guys to battle".
The story then descends from "mild confusion" into "utter nonsense", as...
- Peter goes to school, but gets sent right back home. So that was pointless, but as he's leaving...
- Flash turns up to school with a cheap, fake Spidey mask.
- Flash steals Peter's backpack (containing his Spidey costume). But then... doesn't open it.
- Doctor Octopus attacks Midtown High School. Because...?
- Peter steals Flash's fake Spidey mask so he can fight Doctor Octopus. Because when you put on a red ski mask, obviously none of your friends can recognise you any more.
This last bit is just bizarre. Peter figures he can fight Doctor Octopus with a mask over his head and still protect his secret identity. Just like my six year old son thinks he can put a paper bag over his head and help himself to cookies with impunity.
But Peter is sick with the flu, remember. So Doctor Octopus defeats him easily. But then Peter finds his backpack in... a school locker. His? Flash's? Why did Flash put it back in a locker? What was his purpose in stealing it anyhow? Why was the locker not... locked?
Peter puts his newly regained costume back on. And now... I guess he's not sick any more, as he easily defeats Doctor Octopus. As Shakespeare rightly said, in his famous book Thus Spoke Zarathustra , "Clothes maketh the Übermensch".
Flash is impressed that Peter dressed up and fought Ock. MJ is angry about the same thing. Aunt May is proud of Peter's actions, but wants him to "find a safer way to... [protect] his friends in future". Then Aunt May puts Peter to bed with a giant bowl of hot soup.
But through his bedroom window, Peter sees a giant explosion in the distance. Forget what Aunt May says... Spider-Man must answer the call!
Well, this is just stupid and awful in equal parts. Neither Sandman nor Ock have any motivations for their actions. They're just "bad guys with costumes and powers" who drift in and are defeated by Spider-Man whenever and wherever the plot requires.
Aunt May doesn't really mind that Peter (with a cold) fought a deadly super-villain. Flash steals from his fellow students without a word of explanation. There's not a teacher in sight at the school (except the school nurse). Despite the school being turned to rubble, the police only show up to take the bad guys away.
Peter's awful cold flicks on and off like a switch. It turns him into a weakling when required by the plot, but then disappears when needed, then comes back right away, then disappears an hour later.
There's no magic in this "Magical Story". The plot is dumb, the text is boring, the characterisations are awful, and the illustrations lack any hint of the Marvel Style.
Furthermore, I'm struggling to understand the mind-bending pointlessness of re-releasing a book with the identical name and format to a product from three years earlier, but giving it brand new content. What kind of Confusion-Based Marketing is Parragon trying to leverage here?
Magical? No. Spider-Man? Barely. Story? Hardly Even!