Comics : The World According to Spider-Man

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This review was first published on: May 2014.

Background...

What's this? Not another Guide to Spider-Man? Haven't we seen enough of these over the past five decades? Well calm your furrowed brow, frantic fan. "The World According to Spider-Man" from the guys over at Insight Editions is something a little bit different.

In Detail...

The World According to Spider-Man
Apr 2014 : SM Title
Find ISBN 9781608873944
Summary: Fun Spider-Man facts, with poster and extra items.
Publisher:  Insight Editions
Writer:  Dan Wallace
Illustrator:  Mirco Pierfederici
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Review

In format this book is hardback, 7.3" x 7.3".

The product feels very chunky indeed with a depth of three-quarters of an inch. But this is remarkably deceptive as the book actually contains only 64 pages! The remainder of the bulk is made up of book-binding magic — padded covers and a block spine which is actually wider than the book itself.

Inside the content starts with a snappy introduction, gives a quick two-page summary of Spidey's origins, then kicks full gear into "Fact & Funny" mode. The range of subject matter is wide indeed. The general concept is "This book is written by Spidey, for the benefit of others who may wish to follow the super-hero career" path. It's a sound foundation, and provides a great springboard for the humour and variety that follows.

For example, there's the usual stuff you might expect, a few pages on Spidey's costumes. You'll see that in any "Spider-Man Guide". But then there's a couple of pages of "Rejected Costumes", followed up by a hugely practical item entitled "how to emote through your mask". Sure, most guides have information about Spider-Man's web-shooters. But how many will point out "common web-swinging mistakes"? You certainly want to avoid these classic blunders... The "Pavement Eater", The "Zapper" and the "I Need a Push".

Oh, that's just the beginning of the fun. There's info about how to take down classic villains (note that nearly all robots have a conveniently placed self-destruct switch), what to do if you get misplaced in time, a handy guide to the Spider-Mobile, where to hide your clothes while web-swinging, advice for salvaging your super-hero love-life, and even a recipe for Aunt May's Tummy-Tickling Wheatcakes.

Scattered throughout the book are little "extras". These are letters, post-cards, business cards and other little extra goodies that can be removed from the book. Each has their own funny take on some super-hero topic or other.

In General...

The Good:

  • This book is genuinely chuckle-out-loud funny at times. The style is zany and irreverent, and the gags consistently hit the mark.
  • The writer really knows his Spider-Facts. The information covers Spider-Man's entire career, from origins to the current day. It's true to the comic books, and shows an impressive depth and breath of research.
  • There are some lovely (subtle) little in-jokes. If you're familiar with Spidey already, you'll get even more out of this book. But even relative new-comers will still find plenty to enjoy.
  • The all-new artwork is top-notch and supports the jokes with a deceptive ease.
  • The "extras" are great fun too. They further enhance the impression of quality and attention to detail that pervades this book.

The Not So Good:

  • For a small-format book of only 64 pages, the RRP of US$25 is not particularly cheap.

Hopefully, you can see where this book sits in the scheme of things. It's not really a "Guide to Spider-Man" in any conventional sense. That's not to say that it's inaccurate in any way. Quite the opposite. Beneath the giggles, all of the underlying details are meticulously researched. It's simply that the humour takes priority and drives the structure of the book. Things are included if they're funny, and not if they're not.

As for the relatively low page count. While 64 pages doesn't sound like a lot, they are very attractive, well-designed and entertaining pages. And it's important to recognise that humour is helluva hard work. Trust me, it's a lot easier to write a page of boring Spider-Man facts than it is to write a genuinely funny page of Spider-Man jokes!

Overall Rating...

Some books are all about Quality over Quantity, and I guess this is one of them. I also suspect that all those little "extras" have to be manually attached to their various pages in the book, and that also must bump up the manufacturing costs of an already "niche market" book.

And while the RRP is $25, you can actually buy it for $19 on Amazon. If you love your Spider-Man books as much as I do, I think you'll recognise that as pretty good value for something that rises above the ordinary.

I'm gonna give this one a solid 4 Web recommendation.