Comics : Spider-Man 3: Magic Viewer Book

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

Funtastic is an Australian based kids toy and book company that has produced a fair bunch of Australasia-only Spidey coloring and game books. I recently reviewed their Marvel Heroes: Movie Theater which included a battery-powered mini-projector which displayed still-shot Marvel Super-Hero action scenes against any flat white surface.

This 46-page 12" x 12" hard-cover book is "Spider-Man vs. Movie Villains" rather than "Marvel Super-Heroes". And while it similarly features a photo viewer with celluloid images in a disk, there is a definite difference in the supplied hardware. Instead of a back-lit projector, this volume takes a more low-tech approach with a simple plastic magnifying lens that you hold up to your eye as you look at a light source.

In Detail...

Spider-Man 3: Magic Viewer Book
Year 2007 : SM Title
Publisher:  Funtastic Publishing
Writer:  Anthony Roberts
Designer:  David Ciro
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There are four image disks, each with eight still frames from the three recent Spider-Man movies. The frames aren't entirely in sequence, for example the very first disk features Gwen Stacy, who only appeared in the third film.

Given that the viewer is the big "gimmick" for the book, much rests on the perceived quality of the images. Unfortunately, the images (at least in my viewer) are noticeably out of focus. Attempting to look at the images for more than five seconds rapidly threatens to give me a nasty eye strain!

The choice of still frames isn't that exciting either. Out of the 32 images, only one or two actually feature any fight scenes. Around half of the photos just feature Peter in some contemplative pose or another. As MJ might once have protested - "This scene is strictly dullsville, Tiger!"

The book itself doesn't add a great deal of excitement to the mix. The pages all feature a mixed-up multi-colored webbing background, and half of each page features a Spider-Man action shot taken generally from the movie CGI art. Spider-Man is featured on damn near every page, with the exception of one Sandman shot and one Venom shot. The final result is intensely repetitive... after forty-plus pages of one red-and-blue CGI Spidey shot after another, the novelty really is long, long gone.

As for the text on each page, well... if you were counting on sparkling prose to rescue the day, prepare for disappointment. The book dredges through the major events of the three films, roughly in sequence. But something is definitely lost in translation from big screen to dull descriptive paragraph. Perhaps the best way to show this is to give an example:

"In their final battle, Sandman was about to destroy Spider-Man. But his daughter, Penny, arrived on the scene to stop him. Sandman stopped his violence, and Spider-Man allowed him to spend some time with his sick daughter. Sandman was a villain, but he was also misunderstood. He was a father who wanted the best for his daughter."

Maybe my memory fails me, but I don't recall Penny being present at the final climactic battle in the movie. But that aside, the dreary, insipid text is the final straw in the coffin-lid of this dead horse of mixed metaphors I'm flogging.

In General...

Poor choice of viewer images, ineffective viewer, boring repetitive selection of interior art... all of this adds up to a dreadful product. Compared to the rather entertaining Marvel Heroes: Movie Theater produced by Funtastic in the very same year, the Spider-Man Magic Viewer Book is anything but magic.

Oh yeah, I should also mention the nauseating color-choices inside the book which manage to be both washed-out and dull, while also being overly intense and garish - an impressive but unpleasant dichotomy.

Overall Rating...

Lame on pretty much every level. One web.