I go on and on anytime the subject comes up about the Time’s Arrow trilogy by Christopher Golden or What Savage Beast by Peter David as examples of how novelized adaptations of comic books can work. They both are great, nuanced tales that deserve literary attention: David’s work especially. Its moving and emotionally charged and just wonderful storytelling.
Drowned in Thunder by Christopher L. Bennett… isn’t. Well, I assume it isn’t, because in all honesty: I only read about a third of it. That first third was comprised of a lackluster battle with Electro and a lot — a lot — of in-depth explanation into Marvel continuity at the time. Spider-Man’s relationship to Mary Jane is explained, his relationship to his students is explained, his relationship to Electro is explained, his relationship to the Fantastic Four and Avengers in general and the Human Torch in specific is explained: and that was about when I stopped reading, because not only do I already know about Marvel Universe continuity, I have access to a multitude of wikis that will present that data much more easily to me, and that information will be up to date, as opposed to this information which seems to be firmly seated between Amazing Spider-Man vol.2 (Revelations), and Amazing Spider-Man vol. 10 (New Avengers).
The problem with comic-adaptation novels has always been that they are mired with continuity but cannot effect continuity, and some novels handle this issue better than some. The best establish their own continuity or make little reference to continuity except that which is absolutely necessary. Drowned in Thunder elects to instead drown the reader in continuity, to the level that it becomes unreadable. As such it joins a very select group of 1-star reviews here on The Book Closet: 1-star books that were so bad, we couldn’t even finish them. And if you think that’s not painful, you don’t know me: I love to read, and I go into every book wanting to enjoy it.
Maybe I’m just not as young as I was when I enjoyed What Savage Beast, and you just can’t go home again.