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Adventures in Reading starring: The Amazing Spiderman (Marvel, 1990)

Adventures in Reading starring: The Amazing Spiderman (Marvel, 1990). Click for larger image.

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.

Interior page for Adventures in Reading starring: The Amazing Spiderman (Marvel, 1990). Click for larger image.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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