Rave : 2001 : Venom's Wrath

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In Peter Parker: Spider-Man #26, writer Paul Jenkins presented a view of the wall-crawler as seen through the eyes of a number of different New York cops. It was an entertaining and insightful story but only the second-best of its kind. If you want to read the best depiction of the wall-crawling wonder as seen by the NYPD, then you must take a look at the novel Spider-Man: Venom's Wrath by Keith R.A. DeCandido and Jose R. Nieto.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "A novel based on the comic books? Are you kidding?" I used to feel the same way. I wanted my novel characters staying in novels and my comic characters staying in comics. (Or, to put it pretentiously, I wanted DeMatteis' Smerdyakov staying in Spider-Man and Dostoevsky's Smerdyakov staying in Karamazov.) But that was before I read Keith and Jose's novel, which understands that certain taken-for-granted-in-comics concepts must be fleshed out a little differently in a purely prose format. They take the time to present Spider-Man and Venom as the real world would see them and place them in a story of terrorism that could actually happen. They bother to look at Spider-Man in realistic terms. Ever wonder how it would feel to see a costumed man with a full-head mask climb the outside of a building as you walked along Fifth Avenue? This book will make you feel it. Ever wonder why Spider-Man is mistrusted while almost all the other super-heroes are respected? This book gives the best theory for it that I've ever seen. Ever wonder what it would be like to be on the NYPD in the Marvel Universe? This book presents the perfect cop's eye view of the webhead: a man whose non-verbal communication is entirely alien because his mask covers his face, his movements are unhuman, and his abilities unnerving. What race is the wall-crawler? What age? What income bracket or educational background? It is impossible to say. The regular Spider-Man reader is so comfortable in his comic knowledge that he can't divorce Peter Parker from his alter-ego. By using the cops as they do, DeCandido and Nieto succeed in infusing the familiar character with a fresh feeling of mystery.

An aside to all you cynics out there: yes, Keith is a member of the PPP staff and, no, he doesn't know that I'm writing this. If you think the sole reason for this mention is to earn more royalties for Keith and Jose, then borrow the book from a friend or check it out of the library (sorry, guys!). The point is to read it. By the time you are done, you'll probably be like me. You'll think Peter Parker #26 is the second best look of cops watching Spider-Man. And you'll wish that the world of the novel was the regular Spider-Man continuity. Really. I mean it. Check it out.