Mayhem in Midtown

Doctor Octopus has a plan to shut down the refineries of the nation’s top eight oil magnates. “Once the government learns of your unfortunate predicament,” he tells them, “you will be unable to prevent extensive research into various alternative energy sources.”

In the end, Spider-Man thwarts Doc Ock’s scheme. But you have to wonder. Who’s the villain in this story? And who’s the hero? Looking back, maybe Peter Parker should have taken the night off and gone to the movies with his girlfriend. Eco-terrorism sounds like a nice little career change for a nut like Otto Octavius.

Because this is the first time Spider-Man appears in a prose novel, the authors throw in a fair amount of background info for newbies. So be it. The novel has a little bit of Silver Age Marvel crackle and will undoubtedly appeal to anyone who enjoyed Stan Lee’s tenure on the comic book.

One last thing: Mayhem in Manhattan is only 176 pages long. Why did it take two guys to write such a slim book? Marv Wolfman answered this question in a recent interview. “Pocket Books asked us to write the first Spider-Man novel in something like thirty days,” he said. “If I recall, I wrote the first draft and Len (Wein) the second, which was the only way it was possible to do.”

[Mayhem in Manhattan / By Len Wein and Marv Wolfman / First Printing: April 1978 / ISBN: 0671820443]

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