Adventures in Reading starring: The Amazing Spiderman (Marvel, 1990)
This is a rather worthy but not entirely noteworthy exercise in getting
people reading, starring Marvel's web-slinging hero Spiderman. The comic
has actually being published twice in fairly quick succession, once in
1990 and again in 1991, the latter in partnership with a soft drinks company.
Only the cover was changed. Neither was particularly outstanding as cover
art goes, though the 2nd makes the first one look like a grand master.
The story opens with a gang (the term here used loosely as they about as
threatening as the Famous Five) of teenagers "hanging out" outside the public
library. From out of no-where swings in Spiderman, pursued by a super villain
called The Troglodyte - Troglodyte by name, Troglodyte by nature. He's armed
with a weapon called the Transporter (everything here does what it says on
the tin) that can zap people from one location to another. But when he hits
some books, it turns out the weapon can also transport those struck into the
realms of fiction.
First stop for Spiderman and the trio of teenagers caught up in his fight is
Sir Author Conan Doyle's The Lost World. But no sooner has Spidey and his
new friends weighed in on the side of a beleaguered Professor Challenger
than the Troglodyte pops up again and another blast from the Transporter
propels our heroes from the Lost World to turn of the century England, and
an encounter with Martian invaders. In an undemanding way, this is all quite
good fun, and I strongly suspect that one character in this sequence bears
more than a passing resemblance in both features and style of speech to a certain Mr
Orson Welles. The attack on Leatherhead is re-imagined here, but while in
the original novel it is an artillery piece that brings down a Tripod,
here it is Spiderman, using his web to trip up a Tripod.
On next to Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, followed by a stopover in
the 1960s in S.E Hinton's This was then, this is now, and then finally a
trip to visit with Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. I'm probably biased, but
I think it fair to say that the War of the Worlds sequence is the best of
the lot. Certainly you can't beat the idea of Spiderman taking on Tripods.
The art by Job Bogdanove is pretty reasonable and while Louise Simonson
turns in some cliched standard issue Marvel dialogue, you can't help but
occasionally smile at the antics of Spiderman as he travels from one work
of fiction to the next.
Of interest, this was not the first time Spiderman had played in The War
of the Worlds universe. He had previously teamed up with Killraven in Marvel Team-Up #45.
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