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Spider-Man 2
Peter David
Del Rey, 311 pages

Spider-Man 2
Peter David
Peter David is a prolific author whose career and continued popularity spans nearly two decades. He has worked in every conceivable media -- television, film, books (fiction, non-fiction and audio), short stories, and comic books -- and has acquired followings in all of them. In the literary field, David has published over forty novels, several of them New York Times bestsellers; and his short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He lives in New York with his wife, Kathleen, and his three daughters, Shana, Gwen, and Ariel.

Peter David Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Knight Life
SF Site Review: Star Trek: New Frontier: Fire on High
20 Questions with Peter David

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso

I haven't read a media tie-in for a long, long time. Blame the snob factor. The odds are worse when it's a novelization of a film which is actually based on a written work -- in this case, Spider-Man 2, the novelization, "based on the Motion Picture Screenplay by Alvin Sargent, Screen Story by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko," as the cover informed me.

But now I have a small child, and no babysitter handy to take over while I gallivant off to the theater. And I admit cheerfully to being a Spidey fan from way, way back. So when this review copy arrived in my mailbox, I easily talked myself into reading it.

How was it? Well, first you need to know that author Peter David has worked on more than a dozen comic series, from Spider-Man and The Hulk to Captain Marvel and Wolverine, done Star Trek and Babylon 5 novels, as well as original science fiction and fantasy novels, including the acclaimed Sir Apropo of Nothing series. With that much experience, the guy must know how to tell a story -- especially a nice, pulpy story like this one.

The novel doesn't waste any time to get rolling. It has been two years since Peter Parker first donned the Spider-Man costume. Two years of fighting to protect the innocent and capture the guilty, while maintaining the guise of a normal human being -- one who doesn't dare reveal his secret identity, even if it means lying to his professors, his bosses, his best friend, and the two people he cares about most in the world: sweet old Aunt May, and dynamic, gorgeous Mary Jane (MJ) Watson, the woman he loves but can never have, for fear of making her a target for every bad guy who hates Spider-Man.

While beating up a bad guy who tries to kidnap the brilliant Dr. Otto Octavius, Peter learns that the scientist is supposedly at work on some type of "arms" project. Little does he know that those arms are literal, a neurally linked set of four robotic limbs with amazing strength and dexterity, designed to assist Octavius in his fusion research -- arms which achieve a murderous intelligence of their own when the fusion generator overloads, killing the scientist's beloved wife. Driven mad by her death, Octavius and his intelligent tentacles immediately begin to terrorize the city. Hey, what else would a newly hatched arch-fiend do?

But remember, this movie tie-in, isn't just another CGI-driven carnage fest; it's also a Spider-Man story, which demands a broad swath of melodrama mixed in with the slam-bang action of a summer blockbuster. Will Peter ever come to terms with the ghost of his Uncle Ben, who drives him to fight crime no matter what he must sacrifice? Can Peter convince MJ he's more than an incompetent clod who can't keep his word? And will he ever get a fair price from newspaper editor J. Jonah Jamison for all those page-one Spider-Man photos he's taken?

This briskly told story may not be the most lyrical or challenging bit of "sense of wonder" on the shelf, but it is true to the comic starring the guilt-tripping, wise-cracking Spider-Man so many know and love. No one has as much to lose -- or gain -- as this iconoclastic superhero who has to worry about passing college exams and paying the rent while avoiding being beaten to a pulp by the latest megalomaniac to hit town. If you're looking for a few hours of fun, you can't go wrong giving this one a read.

Copyright © 2004 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.

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