This series of mini-novels is a product of Pocket Books and Marvel Comics, published by Byron Preiss. They're standard paper-back profile, but only around 130-140 pages long. There's one line-art full-page picture every couple of chapters, the print is medium size, and the vocabulary is fairly undemanding, clearly they're aiming a the 8-12 market. So, do they hit the target?
This is the first of the series. It's written by Martin Delrio, and I have to say it's really quite disappointing. It's set during the worst snowstorm in New York in over a hundred years. Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Jonah Jameson, Ben Urich and Peter Parker have all just received mayoral awards for helping make the city a better place. Eddie Brock sees the presentation on TV, and is far from pleased.
So he sets out to ruin Spidey's reputation, interspersed with a few fight scenes. Spidey just follows his nose, and waits for the Human Torch to turn up with the rescue in the final act.
Eddie certainly has all the tools for making Spidey's life a living hell, and goes about it quite cleverly, showing a hint of promise. But all Spidey seemingly needs to do is call him a couple of names, and Eddie just drops his whole carefully planned attack. Any promise that the book showed is completely doomed at that point, and the downhill trend continues.
So, there's nothing clever in the plot, and unfortunately there's nothing in the writing worthy of praise either. Just because you're writing for kids doesn't mean that the writing has to be dumb. But this stuff sure is. It's stilted and lifeless. There's tedious detail now and again, interspersed with the standard formulaic descriptions used in so many books to describe the origins of Venom, the background to Jonah and the Daily Bugle, etc., etc. Nothing creative at all.
There are no real surprises, no sense of pace or urgency. The writing has nothing to capture any reader who's old enough to comfortably handle the vocab. The characterisations are flat, and the whole book basically became just a chore to flick through.
This one's a total dud. Let's call it two webs, and move onto Number Two.