08 March 2017

Faster than a DC Bullet: Prose Fiction #12: Spider-Man: The Venom Factor

Trade paperback, 348 pages
Published 1994

Borrowed from the library
Read December 2016
Spider-Man: The Venom Factor
by Diane Duane
illustrations by Ron Lim

Diane Duane is one of my favorite Star Trek novelists, which was my reason for including this book in my list of interesting prose novels based on comic book properties. It displays one of Duane's writing tics to a T: exhaustive research. We all know that Peter Parker is a photographer, but Duane makes us believe it, devoting time in the novel his purchasing of film and other equipment, his developing of film, and his going through the whole process of submitting photos to the Daily Planet and obtaining reimbursement for expenses. It's the kind of detail you probably wouldn't or shouldn't give in a superhero comic book, but deepens the realistic feeling of the world in a novel, which was part of my whole reason for this project. Peter's also a graduate student in physics during this time period, and Duane captures some of the nuances of that, too, though not as well. (I find it hard to believe anyone has the time to be a graduate student and a freelance news photographer and a superhero.)

Other than that, this is a decent if unimpressive novel. Duane captures the characters of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and Venom well, based on my limited experience of them all. (This is set during the period where Peter and Mary Jane were married, and apparently also Venom was kind of a good guy? He seems like he's going to be the book's villain, but it turns out to be misdirection.) It's the first part of a trilogy, so I guess the full story will be forthcoming.

Next Week: A new project begins-- my exploration of DC's "new heroes" in the Infinite Crisis era, beginning with Manhunter: Street Justice!

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