Spider-Sense Spider-Man: Big City Showdown

Background

Here's yet another of those 6" x 6" soft-cover 24-page full-cover illustrated story books from HarperCollins. This one features fan-favorite Carnage.

Story Details

There's a Spider-Man impostor running around town performing "acts of vandalism". Oh, no, it's Carnage! Who can stop him now?! Ah... yeah. Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. I forgot about him.

Spider-Man fights Carnage, who "wore a special alien suit that gave him incredible strength and amazing powers". Carnage is more powerful than Spider-Man. But Spidey notices something. Loud noises seem to disturb Carnage.

Carnage heads to the Daily Bugle and starts ripping down the sign. Oh no! What a nasty villain? Actually, he drops the sign onto a school bus, although Spider-Man just manages to make the save.

Things have gone far enough. Spider-Man grabs a loud-hailer from a nearby NYPD cop and gets all the New Yorkers to honk their car horns... "HONK IF YOU LOVE SPIDEY!" he yells. That's taking a bit of a risk, if you ask me. Those New York boys are remarkably fickle on such matters.

But this time it does the trick. The car horns produce enough noise to incapacitate Carnage, and the bad guy gets "carted off to the Vault, a special prison for Super Villains.'

General Comments

I'm in two minds about this story. For once, this is a tale that doesn't rely on any extraordinary coincidences, unusual gizmos, or other Deux Ex Machinae. If you accept Spider-Man and Carnage, then the rest is pretty rational stuff.

However, the choice of Carnage is a most unusual one. This is a villain who's defining quality is "psychopathic mass murderer". Yet (fortunately) he isn't permitted to exercise those deadly qualities in this kid's book context.

So, why choose Carnage at all? Why not the less-lethal Venom? The whole thing really is a rather odd juxtaposition - a brutal killer, in "mostly harmless" mode.

Overall Rating

I don't know what to do here. The artwork and production values are fine. But I can't quite see who this book is targeting. It's a kid's storybook format, but it features a nasty villain with dark, moody artwork.

I'm confused. Two and a half webs.