Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

In most superhero comics, take away the visuals and all that’s left are loud bangs and thickheaded wit. But the writers who contributed to The Ultimate Spider-Man (Marvel Comics/Byron Press Multimedia) aspire to make one well-known crime fighter readable rather than viewable. “I am known among the science-fiction and comic-book communities as someone who does both [genres],” says Gaithersburg, Md., resident Lawrence Watt-Evans, who used his crossover ability to animate Peter Parker’s alter-ego through words alone. “Cool,” Watt-Evans’ Spider-Man entry, is a heavy-handed morality tale warning of the dangers of (super)hero worship. Like most of the selections in the anthology, “Cool” favors plot over nuance. Still, for young readers or obsessive Spidey fans, The Ultimate Spider- Man could make entertaining reading. Watt-Evans’ latest novel, In the Empire of the Shadow (Del Rey), is Part 2 of his “Three Worlds” trilogy and is in stores now.