Spider-Man: Wanted: Dead or Alive is a 1998 novel, featuring Spider-Man. Other than black and white drawings at the beginning of chapters, this is a story told through text. It was written by Craig Shaw Gardner with the illustrations drawn by Bob Hall.

You might be thinking: "The entire point of Spider-Man is that he is a colorful and kinetic figure, whose personality is communicated through art! Spider-Man in text would be boring!", and I have to admit that I had the same trepidation. But I thought this book might make some fun light reading, so I purchased it and read it.

The plot involves a pretty classic Spider-Man plot: Spider-Man, sometimes the hero of New York City, can also be persecuted, especially when an ambitious politician named Brian Timilty who is running for mayor teams up with J. Jonah Jameson to brand Spider-Man as an outlaw. But is our ambitious politician just trying to smear Spider-Man for publicity, or is there something more nefarious going on? And what is the link between Timilty, classic Spider-Man villains The Rhino and Electro, and a shadowy organized crime figure? Will Spider-Man clear his name in time to stop a plot that might endanger all of New York City?

I bet if you are even passingly familiar with Spider-Man, you can figure out the answer to that story.

One thing I think this book did well is focus on Peter Parker as much as Spider-Man. Much of it takes place in and around the Daily Bugle, because the politics and process of the media lend themselves to text descriptions more than Spider-Man's acrobatic fighting style. The story does include The Rhino and Electro, and the author probably assumed the reader would be familiar with them, because explaining Electro from scratch would be a challenge. I think this story, in general, hit the sweet spot of what a Spider-Man story should be like: just realistic enough that we could relate to the "street level" world of organized crime in Manhattan, and just fun enough that we could enjoy it as light reading.

I read this book while traveling, because it was a good book to read while either riding a bus, or waiting for a bus. Ironically, comic books were meant to be temporary entertainment for things such as bus rides, but it is now hard to imagine anyone but the most casual reader ever reading their comic books in a place where they might get bent or damaged. You can't scrunch a comic book into a backpack. So the format of a book, while seemingly more serious than a comic, actually provides more opportunities for casual engagement.

After reading this, I will say that while I wouldn't specifically devote time to reading Marvel stories in text, I would do so if I was travelling and needed some light reading.