Spider-Man: Lizard's Deadly Trap (Pop-Up Pals)

 Posted: 2008
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)


I just recently stumbled upon the "Fun Works" books from the mid 1990's. They did a half-dozen or more books, several of which had gimmicks of some kind. This one's a pop-up book.

The book is 7 3/4" x 7 3/4", hard cover. It contains eight pages, but with the front and back flaps that makes for five separate double-page spread pop-up scenes.

Story Details

"Man-o-man, it's so hot and humid my spider-uyniform is sticking to me like glue," Spider-Man complained as he web-slinged across the city.

Surely the past participle of "sling" is "slanged"? Web-slanged? Anyhow, you quickly get the gist of the story.

"New York's not the Big Apple, it's the Baked Apple!" Suddenly his spider-senses flared. On the street below he spotted his deadly foe, the Lizard! So we've got a couple of paragraphs of text per page. Anyhow, enough of the text, we're here for the pop-ups!

...and here we have the lizard popping-up out of a sewer, and Spidey pushing out of the page attached from the top as he web-swings into the scene. It's a rather ordinary The background art is air-brush shared, but the main characters are block color. That kind of gives it all a bit of that bland feeling of a cheaply produced cartoon show, where they spend money on a few backgrounds then re-use them to death.

Second scene, Spidey traps one of the Lizard's allies, a giant salamander. There's three separate pieces in the construction, Spidey, the web, and the salamander. However, the salamander doesn't pop into place particularly well, and the coloring on the salamander is basically two colors, green on the back and light green on the belly, there's no shading at all.

In fact, throughout the entire book the combination of the bright bold solid block colors for the characters and the pastel blue/pink for the night-time city backgrounds is really rather disturbing. But let's move on.

Third scene. Spidey fighting three lizards this time. Each lizard is on a separate piece of card, and they're intermeshed quite nicely to make it seem like Spidey is surrounded by a forest of lizards. But again, the bright green and yellow coloring of the lizards is little hard on the eyes, and the stomach.

In the text for this scene, Spider-Man somersaults over the Lizard and pulls out an air conditioner freon hose. But the pop-up scene shows only the lizard, looking over one shoulder. Presumably Spidey moved so fast that he vaulted out of scene! Very funny, but it leaves me feeling kind of gypped. Why not just have Spidey turn off the lights and have the whole page black?

The final scene is the big one. Spidey is standing rather nonchalantly spraying the Lizard. As you open the page, Doc Connor's head slides up to replace the lizard head. The Doc's right arm is kind of vaguely hidden in foam from the freon. It's a relatively complex pop-up scene, but the proportions and angles of the Doc's body are a bit awkward which really spoils the whole effect. There's so much foam all over the place that it's all rather washed out.

General Comments

Most of the pop-ups are well-meaning, but they just don't feel particularly natural or well constructed. Sure, they're all solid enough, but there's just a slightly clumsy, chunky feel that makes them rather pedestrian and ordinary.

The artwork really don't help improve things. The pop-up art doesn't match with the backup art at all, which means you're never going to have the pop-up feel like it's turning the scene into a 3D. Instead you have the background, and a pop-up sitting on top of it, very disjointed.

Of course, the storyline adds nothing at all. The text isn't particularly clever, nor does it flow well - it's not the kind of story I would particularly enjoy reading to a child.

Overall Rating

Two and a half webs for the pop-up construction, two webs for the story, and one web for the art. That gives us... one and a half webs. This is really a poor effort all around.


Is freon really a high-pressure foam if you tear open an air conditioner hose?

 Posted: 2008
 Staff: The Editor (E-Mail)