The story finds Peter Parker and longtime gal pal Mary Jane as newlyweds, very much in love but feeling more than a little stressed when his alter-ego – Spider-Man, natch – is having to spend time alongside the sexy, slinky superhero Black Cat, his former flame. With both reluctance and lingering sexual chemistry, they’ve teamed up to rid their city of the Ancients, a trio of otherworldly deathbringers seeking revenge for the death of their dear brother Morlun. Though Spidey was not directly responsible for that death, he didn’t exactly prevent it, either, so he’s a marked man as far as they’re concerned. It’ll be a valiant battle in untested waters with tragically high stakes – a near war, in fact, that will require the assistance of Dr. Strange, although he’s not willing to help.
What Butcher does best here is nail Spider-Man, from whose perspective DARKEST HOURS is told. He absolutely captures the character’s voice, dumb quips and all. But the action is rather pedestrian, and the plot is simply not big enough for a 300-page novel. This was adapted from a comic, and again, what works on the illustrated page doesn’t automatically translate to straight text. Case in point: Spider-Man and his arch-enemy the Rhino sharing a bag of microwave popcorn and then sitting down to dinner. That’s all a bit silly, and so is the melodramatic coda, which reduces Dr. Strange to fanciful parody.
Thus, the second half never quite recovers from these flights of fancy. All in all, I was able to take it about as seriously as that ELECTRIC COMPANY episode where Spidey was on the trail on the yeti who sat on sno-cones. –Rod Lott
OTHER BOOKGASM REVIEWS OF THIS AUTHOR:
• PROVEN GUILTY by Jim Butcher