REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN HOSTILE TAKEOVER is a SHIELD File’s Worth of PlayStation’s Peter Parker Goodness.

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We’re just a few short weeks away from Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4 putting Marvel back as a major player in the console gaming art form. Before that happens, Titan Books is publishing the official prequel novel to the game, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover. A story that fills you in on this version’s dichotomy of one of Marvel’s most beloved characters.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover

Written By: David Liss

Published By: Titan Books

Insomniac Games (Ratchet & Clank, Resistance) has created a sleek and attention demanding look to the title hero for their upcoming Spider-Man game. The white spider suit has been the focus of the conversation surrounding it and in the past few weeks Sony has released a bit more footage about the game’s narrative; we have learned just how much care went into the Peter Parker side of the character as well. Writer, David Liss with guidance from Marvel Games has put together a story in this prequel novel that expands much of what we already know about this version of Peter Parker and adds a few interesting characters the true believers among Marvel fans will appreciate.

Hostile Takeover fills in the journey Spider-Man has undertaken in order to bring down Wilson Fisk A.K.A The Kingpin. The book leads up to the opening scene of the Insomniac game but the road to get there is surprisingly full of its own history. Spider-Man has been doing the superhero thing for years and in that time he’s never been able to put the Kingpin behind bars. Not only has he been fighting armed goons but a New York infrastructure infiltrated by Fisk as well.

The novel also details much of Peter’s personal life. His relationship with Mary Jane Watson in this novel is dynamic compared to what we’ve seen in traditional Marvel comics. It’s rocky. so much so that it’s made MJ question her place in all this. She doesn’t want to simply be the girlfriend worrying about her crime-fighting man, MJ is aspiring to be an investigative journalist for the Daily Bugle. A road that will lead to her own path crossing with Wilson Fisk as she investigates a major property deal.

As the Kingpin looks to tighten his stranglehold on New York, he recruits allies of his own. Maya Lopez who fans know as Echo. In this Spider-Verse, Maya is at odds with Spidey for tragic reasons that will see her not only try to bring down our hero but cross Fisk as well. The other character Spider-Man will have an epic battle with in these pages is Michael Bingham who was quite an out of left field character you might remember as the Blood Spider. Here Bingham isn’t a student of Taskmaster but a recruit of Fisk. As a troubled orphan, he’s obsessed with becoming Spider-Man out of the misguided notion that the Spidey mantle is his.

The book’s plot revolves around Blood Spider’s plan to frame and tarnish the hero reputation Spider-Man has carved out for himself in this New York. Spider-Man’s mission to prove his innocence and at the same time gather evidence to bring down The Kingpin will be the catalyst for his Batman/Gordon relationship with police captain Yuri Wantabe in the upcoming game. Peter and Yuri’s work here sets just how the dynamic of this straight-shooting cop can sometimes need an outside the law hand to get things done.

Hostile Takeover does move a bit slow in the name of painting in a complete picture of Peter Parker’s world. One that will feel familiar with characters such as Aunt May, MJ, and even The Kingpin. Yet it also gives you glimpses of just how much Insomniac is allowed to mutate this lore to create a distinct Spider-Man universe. The origin of Blood Spider, Peter’s job and relationship with people like Harry Osborn are all fresh takes that deliver uniqueness to this part of the Marvel universe.

Is Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover vital to your enjoyment of Marvel’s Spider-Man on PlayStation? No, but it is worth your time if you’re a Spider-fan or if you’re already all in on the game. Liss pens a story with tons of moving parts that don’t just focus on the fluid fighting actions of Peter’s alter ego, it shows how his two worlds collide. It brings the collateral damage of that conflict to a level that’s more than just destroyed buildings but how the shattered lives around Spider-Man affect him.

Titan Books Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover is available in bookstores and online on August 21, just in time for you to read it before the September 7 launch of Marvel’s Spider-Man on PlayStation 4. 

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