Comics : Spider-Man 2: Hands Off, Doc Ock
This review was first published on: 2004.
We've already covered plenty of HarperCollins kid's books that were released to tie-in with the movie. All the ones we've covered so far had a couple of things in common - firstly, they were standard bookshelf sort of size, 5" x 7.5" or so. Also, they were all simultaneously released throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
However, there were two other kids books that appear to have been released only in the United States - these two books here, entitled "Hands Off, Doc Ock!" & "Hurry Up, Spider-Man". Both are apparently designed for reading to young kids, and they feature a larger 8" x 8" profile which allows for much larger pictures on each page.
The word count is quite similar to two of the other Festival books, as reviewed in Spider-Man 2: Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock and Spider-Man 2: Everyday Hero. They all feature two or three lines of text per page, up to five lines max, but are predominantly driven by the pictures. However, this time we have only 16 pages per book, instead of the 32 pages in the other two books just mentioned.
Spider-Man 2: Hands Off, Doc Ock
Jun 2004 : SM Title
This book is completely different from it's twin, Spider-Man 2: Hurry Up, Spider-Man!. While they share the same layout, page count, profile, word count etc, the story and art are entirely different.
This story is basically the same plot as Spider-Man 2: Everyday Hero, both being oh so very loosely related to the characters in the film. Peter gets up on a beautiful morning, and goes to the bank. Ock turns up and starts stealing cash. Ock "uses his extra limbs to slash and crush his victims".
Huh? What's that? Yep, this book, which I would figure to be formatted for reading to a three or four year old, features a psychopath "slashing and crushing" his victims! Woohoo! Maybe that's why it never made it to the UK market... while the U.S. seems to be completely paranoid about any sexual content, brutal violence is clearly pretty standard stuff pre-school book context.
Oh well, enough time spent questioning the priorities of American censors, let's get back to our story. It's Spidey to the rescue, but Ock is too fast. He heads to the street, grabs a young girl, and climbs a building. More fighting, and Spidey is smashed through a window. Then Ock waves the girl over the street, and drops her. Spidey "pokes Doc Ock right in the eye", then dives down and grabs the girl just before she hits the pavement. Yay!
Then they do the Aunt May line from the film. "We showed him", says the girl.
This book is completely unrelated to the movie and is (in my humble opinion) excessively violent for the target audience. It fails to signficantly represent any aspect of the film, and equally fails to create a complete, stand-alone tale which is worthy of the paper it occupies. This is a shame, because the art and production is very nice. The colors are rich, the format is good, the cover art is lovely. If only they had spent some money on a decent script!
Pretty, but that's all. One and a half webs.