Comics : The Amazing Spider-Man Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This review was first published on: Nov 2012.

Background...

This book is a tie-in to the 2012 "Amazing Spider-Man movie.

In Detail...

The Amazing Spider-Man Spider-Man: Friend or Foe
Jun 2012 : SM Title
Find ISBN 9781742834313
Summary: Appears to be Australia-Only, no U.S. Release
Publisher:  Scholastic Australia, Inc.
Adaption:  Michael Siglain
Screenplay:  James Vanderbilt
Staff Only
Issue
Review

Physically, the book is 8" x 8" with a glossy card, square-bound cover. Inside are 24 glossy full-color pages. Each double-page features on on side a high-quality still photo taken from the film, and on the facing page a paragraph (or two) of text.

The focus of the book is the ambiguity that this version of Spider-Man presented to the general public. As you are no doubt aware, the Spider-Man of the 2012 film isn't particularly well understood by the police or by the citizens of New York. This story highlights the key elements of Spidey's secret identity and mentions his costume's inspiration from the masks and outfits of the Mexican wrestling circuit.

It also references his conflict with the NYPD, and Captain Stacy's campaign to have Spider-Man arrested. On the positive side, the book references the night of the disturbance on the Williamsburg bridge where someone or something attacked people in vehicles, and where Spider-Man supposedly acted to help people.

The book concludes: "No one knows who he is beneath that mask of his, or why he goes out into the night to fight crime. But Spider-Man is always there to help those in need... and that makes him AMAZING!"

Based on the deliberately vague and ambiguous treatment that Spider-Man received in the previous pages, this final summary seems to be a bit biased! Yeah, we all know Spidey is a good guy because... he just is. But if you were to assess Spider-Man's reputation based on nothing other than the contents of this book, you might find it a bit harder to draw a positive conclusion based on the mysterious and poorly-contextualised snippets it contains.

In General...

I have carefully avoided using the word "Story" to refer to the text within this book, because really there is no plot or character development. Each segment offers a photo and corresponding fragment of an idea or event extracted from the movie. But like most of the other 2012 movie tie-in books, you get the feeling that this book was never intended to be self-supporting.

Specifically, it doesn't contain any conflict or significant character development. It doesn't feature any interaction between Peter and any of the other cast. There is no reference at all to Gwen, Ben & May, Peter's Parents, Flash, Doc Connors, The Lizard, or Norman Osborn. Spidey's Origin, Oscorp, Radioactivity... all absent.

So... where is the story? There isn't one. This isn't a book you would read to your kids. As well as the missing plot, the writing is rather flat and passive. There's no tension or drama.

Nope, this book exists purely as a teaser for the film. For those who came across the book before getting to the cinema, the hints in the text and the high-resolution stills might offer you enough of a glimpse into the movie to have you reaching for your 3D glasses and your wallet. For those who saw the film first, you might be happy to drop a few bucks on this reasonably-priced book just because Spidey is cool.

Overall Rating...

I recall one reviewer writing about the film, and saying something along the lines of "Yeah, it's a pretty good movie. But it's impossible to ignore the fact that you are, in the end, watching 'Product'".

The same goes for this book — it exists purely because block-buster movies must have tie-in books.