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Down These Mean Streets (Spider-Man) by…
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Down These Mean Streets (Spider-Man)

by Keith R. A. DeCandido

Series: Spider-Man

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Perhaps it's just the shadowing but when I picked up my copy of 'Spider-Man: Down These Mean Streets' at the local bookstore I began to wonder whether Spidey had taken to carrying a weapon...albeit in his pants? Perhaps he was just overly pleased to be on the cover? I just don't know. What I do know, disturbing Spider-crotch aside, is that I thought it was a great piece of artwork and better portrayed the prose novel appeal to a more mature audience. Compare it, for instance, to Jim Butcher's 'Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours'which suffers from looking like a comic page drawn for kids but is actually another Spider-Man prose novel aimed at an older demographic. With such a cool cover and the story being penned by Keith R.A. DeCandido, known as Krad to his fans, I was eager to begin reading.
Unlike most Spider-Man novels where he has a set villain to thwart Krad takes this novel into the realms of mystery by not revealing who the bad guy is. What we have instead is a new, designer drug named 'Triple X' (no, the side effect isn't that it makes one as dumb sounding as Vin Diesel) which is a combination of ecstasy and gamma radiation (yep, the stuff that turned Bruce Banner into The Hulk) and turns people into rampaging monsters. Spider-Man, mostly in the form of Peter Parker, sets about trying to solve who is behind the manufacturing of this drug, while working with the police to contain the outbreak, and it's only in the final few chapters that we find out the Spider-Man villain responsible. Although I enjoyed this approach the final battle between Spider-Man and the main villain is all too short and felt more rushed than any ending to a novel I can recall reading.
It should be noted that Peter Parker no longer works for the Daily Bugle in this book but is a high school science teacher and, as such, some of the story plays out like an offshoot of the movie 'Dangerous Minds'. This isn't actually a bad thing as it grounds the story and adds a touch more realism to the proceedings and should make it more appealing to those who aren't huge superhero fans.
So, all in all, what we have is a crime story mixed with teenage rebellion and angst, sprinkled with a healthy dose of mystery and topped off with some superhero frosting...quite the recipe. It's also one that DeCandido almost cooks to perfection but the story ends up a tad underdone due to a rushed Spider-Man/villain climax. And, let me tell you, if there's one thing I don't like in life it's a rushed climax! Ooer!! ( )
  BookMarcBlogpants | May 27, 2010 |
DeCandido has been labeled by Trek fiction fans as the second coming of Peter David, which is an apt description but a bit unfair since it shortchanges the fact that DeCandido is a damn good storyteller. He started out his professional novel publishing career with a Spider-Man novel and he returns to it here with this novel. The storyline follows some of the current comic book continuity with Peter teaching high school science, Mary Jane pursuing an acting career and Aunt May knowing Peter Parker equals Spider-Man. A new gamma-radiation treated version of ectasy is on the market and its killing people left and right--after they "Hulk-out" and Peter realizes that in order to stop the deaths, he'll have to find the source of the drug and put it out of business. DeCandido's great strenght in writing novels set in universes not of his own creation is that he's able to capture the voice and nuances of each character and that strength is on display here. But within that context, DeCandido is able to put his own stamp and interpretation on the characters and, for the most part, that works really well. Make not mistake--this novel is not going to win any awards for best fictional novel published this year, but it's a fun, fast-paced and enjoyable read that any fan of Spider-Man should enjoy. ( )
  bigorangemichael | Jun 18, 2008 |
  rbns | Apr 14, 2007 |
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Book description
A brand-new designer drug arrives in New York City with the force of a hurricane: Triple X, a potentially lethal combination of ecstasy and gamma radiation that is literally turning users from the shadowy, dank alleys to the glittering, raucous party circuit into living, rampaging nightmares. For high school science teacher Peter Parker, Triple X's onslaught on some of his students and his wife's professional life is as dangerous as it is unexpected. For Peter's secret alter-ego, the costumed crime-fighter known to the world as Spider-Man, the situation quickly accelerates from bad to worse, as the drug's effects run unchecked against law enforcement's and his own valiant efforts to rein in the city-wide chaos. But there is a growing consensus between Spider-Man and the police that, for reasons yet unknown, one of the arachnid's most fearsome enemies may be behind it all as part of a greater scheme to bring the city -- and one of its most heroic and hated defenders -- to its knees at long last...
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"A brand-new designer drug arrives in New York City with the force of a hurricane: Triple X, a potentially lethal combination of ecstasy and gamma radiation that is literally turning users from the shadowy, dank alleys to the glittering, raucous party circuit into living, rampaging nightmares. For high school science teacher Peter Parker, Triple X's onslaught on some of his students and his wife's professional life is as dangerous as it is unexpected. For Peter's secret alter-ego, the costumed crime-fighter known to the world as Spider-Man, the situation quickly accelerates from bad to worse, as the drug's effects run unchecked against law enforcement's and his own valiant efforts to rein in the city-wide chaos. But there is a growing consensus between Spider-Man and the police that, for reasons yet unknown, one of the arachnid's most fearsome enemies may be behind it all as part of a greater scheme to bring the city--and one of its most heroic and hated defenders--to its knees at long last"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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