Every city has an underbelly, where poverty and crime continue
their death dance. On these mean streets of Manhattan, far
from the glamour of costumed superhero contests, Peter Parker
patrols as Spider-Man, trying to hold back the tide of street
crime. Peter and Mary Jane, having finally married, must each
in their own way confront the new scourge sweeping the streets.
Triple-X, a new ecstasy variant laced with Gamma radiation,
promises to give the user the perfect high - at the same time
offering the chance of super human abilities. But who is producing
and supplying this new deadly promise of paradise? Can Spider-Man
stop them in time before more people die...?
Down These Mean Streets is a new book by Keith R A. DeCandido
who is both a prodigious and excellent writer of genre short
stories and novels. Like the Fantastic
Four: War Zone (also released recently) this
novel follows the timeline of the comics rather than the movies.
This is less of a problem than with War Zone as the
ultimate villain will be familiar to both comic and movie
fans. Added to this, DeCandido has avoided plastering the
narrative with too many cross references to the comics, thereby
allowing a greater audience access to the story without feeling
that they are missing large chunks of fan-boy history.
the Fantastic Four was about family then Spider-Man
was always about the reality of a young kid gaining super
powers and the problems that this would engender. Spider-Man
had an edge that a lot of the other comics didn't. He wasn't
accepted just because he wore tights; often while trying to
do the right thing he would incur the suspicion and downright
hostility of the law enforcement establishment.
Mean Streets is set much later than the films. Peter is
now a teacher and Spider-Man has a certain amount of hesitant
trust with a section of the police force. Together Peter and
the Police try to stop the spread of Triple-X. Meanwhile Mary
Jane must confront the effects of the drug on her mostly middle
the book reads more like a detective novel; yes there are
fights against the gamma enhanced junkies to satisfy the action
aficionados, but overall it's a much more satisfying read.
DeCandido takes the time to explore the various relationships,
from Peters driven personality, a product of his uncles death
and his guilt for not preventing it to Mary Jane's feelings
of living with a man with a mask
Spider-Man win? Of course he does but DeCandido shows that
the journey is often more interesting than the destination.
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