Comics : Amazing Spider-Man 2: Book of the Film (Junior Novelization)

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This review was first published on: Jan 2015.

Background...

Since Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" (2002) started the pattern, every big-screen Spidey movie has been accompanied by both an illustrated "Movie Storybook", and also by a novelization. Recently these have been written for the Junior market rather than for adults.

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man 2: Book of the Film (Junior Novelization)
Apr 2014 : SM Title
Find ISBN 9781423197584
Publisher:  Marvel Press (U.S.)
Adaption:  Brittany Candau, Nachie Marsham
Screenplay:  Alex Kurtzman, Jeff Pinkner, Roberto Orci
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Review

This Junior Novelization for "Amazing Spider-Man 2" (Rise of Electro, 2014) features 144 black and white newsprint pages, plus 8 glossy full-color pages of photos from the movie. There's also two tear-out cardboard bookmarks, just in case you can't find a bookmark of your own and you feel like ripping bits of your book apart.

As befits the younger target market, the font is large and well-spaced with only 22 lines per page. Each page also features a grey watermark of webbing over the entire page, including behind the text. Combined with the poor paper quality and the low-grade ink which rubs off between opposing pages, I needed to slow down from time to time to disentangle the various black smudges from the actual words.

The story follows the movie through the first 90% of the film, starting with the plutonium truck chase, the graduation, and the missed dinner in Chinatown. Spidey saves Max on the street, Max becomes Electro. Aunt May gets a job as a nurse assistant. Felicia, Smythe, all pop through the scene. In deference to the "Junior" in the title, we don't see Norman Osborn die. Instead we are introduced to Harry as son of the recently late Norman Osborn.

Spider-Man fights Electro in Times Square and defeats him with water. Harry discovers he is dying and asks Peter to ask Spider-Man to donate blood to save him. Peter finds clues to his father's disappearance (Roosevelt, subway tokens). Electro goes to Ravencroft, but is rescued by Harry. Gwen decides to go to England. Peter decides that he loves her after all. But first they must work together to defeat Electro one last time...

...which they do. Now Gwen and Peter can go to England and find the happiness they've always yearned for. Just like in the movie, right?

In General...

That's a heck of a lot of action to fit in 144 large-font pages. Even though the book races breathlessly from scene to scene, key elements are still left out in the scramble to fit everything inside the limited page count. For example, despite the foreshadowing, Peter never does get into Roosevelt Station to learn the truth about his father.

Now, from a pure "writing" point of view I must give credit to Candau & Marsham for their adaptation. The text is natural and flows well, being well-pitched to its target younger age group without talking down to them at all. Equally the tone is well-balanced in its mix of lightness and action. Thankfully Peter doesn't feel the need to cry every five minutes like he did in the film.

On the downside, of course you don't get all the wonderful action scenes. The eight pages of movie stills are very disappointing, and they carry none of the visual impact that the big screen carried. The Electro CGI is present, but there are no shots of Spider-Man swinging through the air. Nor are there any shots of Gwen, Harry or Aunt May (nor the wonderful Rhino battle suit). In fact the shots of Spidey are ugly and feature shockingly dull backgrounds, as if they were taken from early concept photos.

Overall Rating...

So let's summarize: On the positive side – the story is competently written. Often I find these movie tie-in storybooks almost painful to read for their amateurish scripting. But I didn't wince at all while racing through this example.

Now for the negatives: The movie stills were dull and disappointing. The physical print quality and design of the book was awful, making it hard to read. Also, if you've seen the movie, you'll know that the ending is wildly different from the "Happily Ever After" version given here in the novelization.

So despite the well-meaning intentions of the competent writers, this book is a rushed re-hash of an already mediocre film which loses some key elements in the retelling process and fails to replace them with anything else of significant value.

Two Webs.