Hey kid... are you surfin' the net looking for corn? That's right, "corn", with a "c". Today we're serving up a big helping of classic corny Spidey stuff in the shape of the wonderful "Power Records" Book & Record sets from the mid-70's.
Power Records (aka Peter Pan Records, aka Zap Records) produced two distinct Spider-Man Book & Record sets as part of their range of that time. Their range also included various other Marvel character stories, plus Frankenstein, Dracula, and various Planet of the Apes tales. The two Spidey Book & Record sets were Spider-Man: The Mark of the Man-Wolf (PR10), and this one - Spider-Man: Invasion of the Dragon Men (PR24).
Power Records also released a number of listen-only stories (no book to read) in various other formats. You can find more about those no-book stories and various other CDs and Vinyl elsewhere in our Spider-Man Audio Section. But here we're just going to review the two Book & Record sets, including their various reprinted forms.
The second Spidey Book & Record story from Power Records is their grand epic "Invasion of the Dragon Men". I'm guessing that having previously struggled with the difficulties of adapting the unexpectedly complex Amazing #124/#125, this time Power Records decided to write a story from scratch.
This tale runs 11:45, on two sides of a 45 rpm single. On the disk, the story is "Written and Produced by Arthur Korb". That's not a name that I recognise. Nor do I recognise the artwork on the cover or in the story.
The tale itself isn't very complex. A bunch of meteors fall from the sky, and drop down an army of dragon-men, and one huge fire-breathing dragon leader, who speaks perfect English, and who declares himself "Draco, King of the Dragon-Men, Master of the Heavens, etc, etc..."
The Bugle sets Peter Parker on the case, and after a quick appearance by his bland girlfriend Mary-Jane, Parker dons the webs, and follows his Spider-Sense into the sewers, where he quickly tracks down Draco and his men, where they are setting up their "Hydro-Magnetic Energy Deactivator" which will... well, let's just say it's not going to make life any better for the folks of New York. Then Draco will issue his worldwide ultimatum to the heads of all nations... blah, blah, blah.
Spider-Man then fights the dragon-men, floods the sewers. The dragon-men are revealed to be robots, and Draco is revealed as "Demosthenes Q. Drake", former Nobel prize-winning biologist, who introduced lizard genes into his own, then created his robotic servants (tough ask for a biologist!) created a Hydro-Magnetic Energy Deactivator, and decided to take over the world. D'uh!
Anyhow, there's a final showdown atop the Empire State Building, Drake falls to a great height, survives, but becomes an Iguana. Yeah, it's lunacy, but I guess that's what passes for irony among the pre-teen 1970's market.
Of course, the holes in this plot are big enough to drive a humvee through, but it really doesn't matter. This stuff is supposed to be silly, and it sure lives up to that expectation!
Having a story read to you is a very different thing from reading a comic. For one thing, I tend to vary my comic-reading pace greatly, depending on the quality of what I'm reading. I also have to say that the "voices in my head" generally do a top-notch job... better than the voice actors on the record!
There's no denying that there's something special about these story records. They're pure golden nuggets of Spider-Man history, and they're absolutely essential in any serious Spider-Fan's collection.
Compared to the other audio story in the series, Spider-Man: The Mark of the Man-Wolf (PR10), this Dragon-Man story is purpose-written, and is cleaner for that. However, that still means that the dialog is rubbish, the characterisations are fake, and the art is clearly sub-standard. Even with bonus marks just for being a great classic Spidey collectable, I can't do better than three webs for Dragon-Man.