When I was a kid, we didn't have books. We had to practice reading with whatever we could find around the basement where we slept, or the dumpsters nearby. We would read Jehovah's Witness pamphlets, the back of the Cornflakes box, and the week-old sheets of newspaper that wrapped our fish-and-chips.
Oh yeah. You guys probably don't remember newspapers. Well, we had newspapers. And polio. And commercial airliners that flew supersonic between New York and London.
Nowadays kids have it all soft. I blame J.K. Rowling, and Harry "Yer a Wizard" Potter. Then for the pre-teens ya got novels starring Zac Power, Geronimo Stilton, Fancy Nancy, and all them types. Spider-Man too, and that's where we come in.
"Attack of the Heroes" is a "Mighty Marvel Chapter Book". 5.2" x 7.6", 120 pages.
This is a "chapter book with training wheels", and I understand why. Getting kids to read independently can be hard. Even ignoring the socio-economic and cultural challenges that many kids face, there's a well-documented extra challenge faced by boys in comparison to their female equivalents.
Spider-Man doesn't try to be gender-biased. Marvel tries to appeal to girls and boys. Of course they do. They're in business and they'd hate the idea of leaving half the market behind. But for every ten kids in a Spidey costume, nine of them are boys. Fact. Spider-Man chapter books are chapter books for boys. And boys need all the encouragement they can get when it comes to building independent reading habits that will put them on a pathway to academic success.
So when I see this book with illustrations scattered over every page, and funky colored fonts, breakout newspaper pages, margin graphics, and whatever else... well, I have no other reaction than to nod in firm approval. If this is what a seven year old boy needs to make him read by torchlight under the covers after lights-out, then go ahead with my blessing!
The story itself is [SPOILER Alert] about Spider-Man fighting heroes who have gone rogue. Not "Rogue" as in "The X-Men". But rogue as in they start stealing stuff (like vibranium from the museum) and attacking heroes (like Spider-Man himself).
Daredevil, Nova, Thing and Iron Man all go bad, and the web-slinger has to tackle them all.
Interspersed with that are scenes of Peter Parker at home with Aunt May, and at high school interacting with Gwen Stacey (his crush), teachers, homework, and Flash Thompson (bully, Spider-Man fan, and romantic competition for Gwen).
Of course the other heroes haven't really turned into villains. Somebody is behind it all, but I won't spoil the surprise. It's all rather silly, but at least it's mostly new story, rather than yet another rehash of some classic issue of Amazing Spider-Man.
The story is an equal mix of silly nonsense, teen angst, and super-hero antics. The whole thing is so good-natured and well-meaning that I find myself entirely willing to forgive all the plot-holes, ludicrously mismatched battles, and general absence of rational behaviour on the part of all involved.
I'm going to give this a Four Web rating, along with my personal recommendation for any parent trying motivate a young reader on the boundary of flying solo.
Also: T-Shirt washing instruction labels, trespass notices, Ikea furniture assembly directions, etc.