Spider-Man: The Venom Factor

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Jack S. Emery


This fantastic novel by Diane Duane was the first in the recent series of Spider-Man books released by Byron Preiss Multimedia, Inc.

Story Details

  Spider-Man: The Venom Factor
Arc: Part 1 of 'The "Venom Factor" Novel Trilogy' (1-2-3)

The story begins with the apparent theft of... something that the government is sneaking into New York. Whatever happened, it was strong, and apparently radioactive.

Also, some drunk guys are just lying around, annoying each other. Suddenly, something strangely resembling Venom attacks, and kills one of the guys. The other escapes, goes to a news station, and rumors begin to spread about Venom and some radioactive waste that was being stored where the drunk guys were staying.

Of course, Peter and MJ do enter the story, that's why it says, "Spider-Man" on the cover. Petey gets some stuff for his camera and tangoes with the Hobgoblin, who is in the middleo of stealing something. During the battle, Hobby uses some razors which injure Spidey and dull his spider-sense.

When Peter gets home, he discovers the news report about Venom's supposed attack. Petey begins to investigate.

Peter heads for the submarine as Spider-Man that the radioactive something was stolen or escaped from, and gets into another fight with Hobby, who is trying to steal something else now. He learns a bit more about the nature of whatever it was the government was storing.

Later, Petey enters a building he is beginning to become suspicious of. They are storing dangerous chemicals in New York - But he's not the only suspicious one there! Venom is also checking out the scene. The two of them get into a minor scuffle and discuss Venom's knowledge of biology ("...I bet you don't even know where the spleen is!" "We could find out.").

Peter's spider-sense returns at ESU, where the Hobgoblin is (yet again) stealing something. Venom enters the fray, and they all duke it out. Hobgoblin escapes however, but Venom pursues. Spidey attempts to find Venom, but finds something different.

Spidey encounters the Venom impersonator (hereinafter referred to as "Wannabe" for lack of space) and they get into a fight. Wannabe is really, really, strong and cracks Spider-Man's ribs, who goes limping off in search of help.

It becomes apparent that ol' Wannabe is actually eating radioactive objects, and is in search of Hobgoblin, who has announced he has created a nuclear bomb with the stuff that he stole. Hobgoblin would like some cash. MJ is brave enough to tough it out, ignoring the fact that she could take a flight to Los Angeles with her new employers.

Hobgoblin is either lying and building a nuclear generator, or telling the the truth and actually making the bomb. We never really find out for sure. Venom shows up, because he wants to find Hobby's spleen and eat it, and they get into a huge fight.

Of course, everyone is there, and they all fight. Then Wannabe eats the bomb, which attains critical mass and goes, "Whumph!" If you want to know what happens next, read the book.

General Comments

This book was fairly enjoyable, and focused quite strongly on our heroes: Peter Parker, and MJ. Venom also got some of the spotlight, and the focus on the main characters was quite enjoyable. I had no idea that Peter was that dependant upon his Spider-sense! I also enjoyed how she explained Venom's history bit by bit. However, Duane's strong point also turned out to be on of her weaknesses. Intimate details of Peter's life that sort of went on and on and on got boring for me (Peter walked down the street, in his ordinary shoes, which cost fifteen bucks, and Peter got these because...).

It gets worse, too. We never really get to find out all that much about Hobgoblin. Sure, he wants to turn New York into a radioactive puddle, but does he really want to do this? Is he building a nuclear bomb? Or is he building a nuclear GENERATOR, which was hinted at in the story, or is he.... I found this frustrating, because while we knew what our web-slinging hero is basically fighting evil, were not really sure why .

Overall Rating

Four webs.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Jack S. Emery