Comics : Marvel Spider-Man: Take-Along Tales
This review was first published on: Jul 2015.
What I thought at first was a book turned out on further investigation to be a fold-out cardboard folio which contained eight 5" x 5" mini-books, each tucked into little cardboard pockets. When closed, the entire assembly measures 6.2" x 11", and is around 1" deep.
The eight little books feature Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Electro, Kraven, Vulture, Mysterio, and the Sinister Six. None of the content is entirely original, all the images are from earlier "Origin Tales" storybooks. In some cases, the text has been used unchanged. In others, the text has been adapted (i.e. trimmed) to fit the space available.
- The "Spider-Man" book is yet another re-working of the now infamous The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story. The text for this story has been heavily cropped from the original, although the sense remains.
- The "Doctor Octopus" book is a near-direct reprint of The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus (Origin Storybook). The text is essentially identical, with only a couple of edits, along with cosmetic changes to layout and formatting.
- "Sandman" is a heavily cropped adaptation of the The Amazing Spider-Man Origin Storybook Collection (Story 5) tale originally entitled "In the Grip of the Sandman".
- Similarly, "Electro" reprints "30,000 Volts of Electro" from The Amazing Spider-Man Origin Storybook Collection (Story 13). Significant edits have been made to the longer text passages.
- The "Caged by Kraven the Hunter" story from The Amazing Spider-Man Origin Storybook Collection (Story 9) is used for the "Kraven" take-along book. Once more, it is heavily edited to fit the available space.
- Book 6 is "The Vulture", which continues to draw from the same source, with the same vigorous editing. This time it is "Cry of The Vulture" from The Amazing Spider-Man Origin Storybook Collection (Story 14).
- You must be starting to see a pattern here. The "Mysterio" book is (unsurprisingly) an edited adaptation of The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Mysterio (Origin Storybook).
- And finally, "The Sinister Six" adapts "Attack of the Sinister Six" from The Amazing Spider-Man Origin Storybook Collection (Story 19). As with the others, the text is trimmed and modified as necessary to fit the smaller format.
This isn't the first time that most these stories have been adapted and tweaked for a slightly different layout, or a slightly different target age group. For some of these stories (e.g. Doctor Octopus) it's not even the second — it's the third rework. And it may very well not be the last.
But that's the way things go in the new Disney World Order. Write one good story (hit movie, classic theme song), and repackage it as many times as the market will bear. It's a sound business model, and I can't imagine that my objections will keep any Vice Presidents awake at night.
These weren't great stories to begin with. A bit of tweaking or slicing hasn't hurt them at all. The "Take-Along" format is a sound piece of design. You'll find corresponding examples of Disney "Cars" and Disney "Princesses" on Amazon, if your kids show a fondness for the layout.
To me, having seen these stories several times before, they're tired and jaded. But if this is your first experience with these tales, you'll probably find them to be good value and perfectly harmless. And hey, it's ecologically sound to recycle, right?
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For some bizarre reason, there's also a single sheet of stickers (measuring 6" x 10.5") inserted into the folio. The stickers feature coloured artwork from the books. They're perfectly attractive, although they do look strangely out of place in this storybook collection. I guess the publishers had some budget left over at the end of the design process.
I did also notice that sometimes the books got a bit stuck when being put back into their sleeves. Collectors wanting to preserve Near Mint condition will definitely want to be careful to avoid damage when replacing them into their holders.