When I stumbled across this book in a Sydney bookstore, I very nearly didn't buy it, since at first glance I assumed it was simple a reprint of the very successful American hardback book The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story.
But it isn't.
This story is in fact a re-formatted, re-written version of the earlier The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story, using all of the original artwork, but none of the original text. While the original book was a series of large illustrations with smaller text descriptions, this adaptation/rework is now more of a Junior chapter book with illustrations.
Specifically this rework has much more text than the original. For example, while the original covers the wrestling match with Crusher Hogan in two or three paragraphs, the new version takes something like 20 paragraphs!
This adapted version appears to be only available in Australia. It is available only a 5.1" x 7.6 paperback format. Due to the smaller format and the extra text, a number of internal formatting changes have been made. The text is smaller font, the illustrations are significantly reduced in size, and the page count has increased from 48 pages to 64 pages.
Very confusingly, this Australia-only paperback rewritten/novelised version was released with essentially the same blue cover as some of the original version printings. This is all very confusing!
So how did this all turn out?
Well, frankly I have to say that I much preferred the original text by Rich Thomas, which integrated so beautifully with the elegant graphics to result in an simple, understated, and delightful work.
By contrast, this re-telling feels laboured and uninspired. Scott Peterson's approach is needlessly heavy-handed. He also takes some extraordinary liberties with the Spider-Man story. For example, he invents an entirely new character - TV show host "Alan Stephens" who spends two pages attempting to embarrass Spider-Man by having him sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" on prime time TV.
Really, the whole thing stinks to high heaven of needing to fill up a contracted word count.
I paid AUS$10 for this small-format paperback book. That's actually more expensive than the current amazon.com price for the original full-sized paperback!
Sure, visually this is still quite an appealing book. But the richly textured art has taken a back seat to the overblown and overbearing text, and that is a huge step backwards.
One-and-a-half webs. Very disappointing.