Comics : Spider-Man: The Movie Storybook

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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...

Tying in with the Spider-Man movie, this is one of several books based upon the blockbuster film. Instead of using artists, the pictures are made up of still photos taken from movie footage.

The book is 64 pages, full color on glossy paper. Size is 8.25" x 11". Each page is mostly full-color movie photo, with between one and eight lines of text. I.e. it's really a picture book with text to fill in the story. If you're in a hurry, you could read this book cover to cover in under two minutes.

In Detail...

Spider-Man: The Movie Storybook
Mar 2002 : SM Title
Find ISBN 0694016462
Publisher:  HarperCollins Publishers
Writer:  Shane Coll
Photographer:  Steve Kahn, Zade Rosenthal
Original Screenplay:  David Koepp
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Review

Open up to a brief backgound on Peter, an ordinary teenager, out on a class field trip to a laboratory. While Peter is taking pictures, a tiny genetically-enhanced spider drops down and bites him on the hand. The following morning, he awakens to discover he has amazing spider-like abilities, he can cling to walls, and shoot webs from his wrists.

After Peter sees Mary Jane with another guy who has a nice car, he decides that if he wants to be popular, he needs some money. He spots an ad for a wrestling contest thats promoting a cash prize, and wants to compete, unfortunately when the day comes for him to try to win the prize, his Uncle insists on driving Peter into town, thinking Peter is going to the library.

Peter wins the match, but when its time for the promoter to pay up, he stiffs Peter the full amount, only giving him a fraction of the prize money. With all that cash lying around, a thief comes up and robs the promoter, and Peter, still sore that the promoter stiffed him, lets the robber escape. Once outside, the thief steals a car and shoots the driver, the driver being Peter's Uncle Ben!

Learning a bitter lesson, Peter now knows that with great power comes great responsibility, and from that moment on, will use his power to help others in need. Peter moves to the city with his friend, Harry Osborn, the son of super-rich businessman and weapons manufacturer, Norman Osborn. Norman's company is researching on how to develop a formula to make ordinary soldiers superhuman, and under pressure of the military for results, Norman opts to be the first human test subject, when something goes wrong!

Meanwhile, Spider-Man is really making a name for himself, catching criminals and saving people in distress. Peter would then take pictures of himself as Spider-Man and sell his photos to the Daily Bugle newspaper. Peter would also spend some time with Mary Jane, who is currently dating Harry.

During a festival, a menacing figure appears... the Green Goblin! Peter goes into action as Spider-Man, but the Goblin makes good an escape. The next day the Green Goblin attacks the Daily Bugle, and once again Spider-Man tackles him, and once again the Goblin gets away. Later on, when Harry and Norman come over for a dinner with Peter and his Aunt May, Norman notices some injuries to Peter... the same kind of injuries he inflicted upon Spider-Man! Norman now knows Peters secret.

That night, the Green Goblin attacks Aunt May, but luckily she survives, and now Peter is worried about Mary Jane, and soon discovers the Goblin has kidnapped her. When Peter shows up as Spider-Man, the Goblin gives him a choice, save Mary Jane, or a tram full of innocent people! Spider-Man earns the adjective 'Amazing' by rescuing both Mary Jane and the falling tram at the same time! The final battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin end when Peter discovers the Goblin is really Norman Osborn, and Norman is killed by his own weapons.

In General...

Storybook is right, and I cannot stress that enough. The way the story is written, makes it very appropriate for a children's book, and thats exactly how it comes across. A few parts of the story have been left out, (such as Peter going after the thief as Spider-Man and the thief accidentally dies) but nonetheless makes for good bedtime reading to a young child interested in Spider-Man. Something like this is perfect for my son, who at the time of this writing is 4 years old. The book is only complimented by some excellent pictures, straight from the movie.

This storyline adapted from the movie combines a few classic Spider-Man stories together, one being his origin from Amazing Fantasy #15, another being Amazing Spider-Man #39 and following, where we learn that Norman Osborn is the Green Goblin and his origin, and finally Amazing Spider-Man #121 and following, where Gwen Stacy is kidnapped and then killed by the Goblin and he 'dies' at the end of the storyline impaled on his Goblin Glider.

Of course, the movie takes parts of these stories and mixes them around to create a special story for the silver screen. Most notably, the slight changes in Peters powers and origin, Mary Jane instead of Gwen Stacy, and of course Mary Jane doesn't die, but its all staying quite true to the spirit of the comics.

Overall Rating...

Great book to read to your child, or if your child is a beginning reader, it should be easy enough for them to do so. I would have given a higher rating, perhaps even 5 webs if all parts of the story were included. For example, I feel some readers may wonder, "What happened to the thief?" as the book doesn't address that issue, giving the impression he got away.