Drowned in Thunder Annotations

Spider-Man Drowned in Thunder Dreamscape coverSpider-Man Drowned in Thunder coverThe following annotations for Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder are not exhaustive.  I do not explain all references to the characters’ backstories, limiting it to key events or obscure allusions.  For more general information, I recommend visiting the SpiderFan.org site, featuring character biographies and summaries/reviews of the majority of Spider-Man comics, or looking up the characters on Wikipedia.

As usual, I recommend reading the book before reading the annotations, for they do contain extensive spoilers.

Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder audiobook

Original 2013 audiobook cover

UPDATE September 2013:

These notes now cover the audiobook edition released by GraphicAudio as well as the original paperback edition. Note that the audiobook is partly abridged, with a number of scenes and passages removed. Significant changes and omissions are noted. Audiobook time references are given by disc, track, and time based on the compact-disc edition. If no time code is given, the note refers to the entire track. Notes specific to the audiobook only are in italics.


ASM: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1 unless otherwise specified)

SSM: Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 2 unless otherwise specified)

PPSM: Peter Parker, Spider-Man (the 1999-2003 series, not to be confused with the earlier Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man (SSM Vol. 1))

Cover notes:

Novel: An original cover painting by John Van Fleet.

2013 GraphicAudio release: Based on John Romita, Jr.’s cover to Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #43, Sept. 2002, about 31 issues before the time frame of the novel.

2019 Dreamscape Media re-release: Modified from Mike Deodato, Jr.’s cover to Amazing Spider-Man #520 from July 2005, about 5 issues after the time frame of the novel (and after the restoration of the original Vol. 1 numbering with issue #500).

Page Disk/Track/
Historian’s Note
ix   n/a To be precise, I assume this novel takes place during the “time passing” montage on p. 18 of Amazing Spider-Man #515 (Feb 2005), “Skin Deep,” Part 1.  It can’t be any earlier, since Mary Jane’s theatrical career was only just starting in the previous storyline (“Sins Past”), and ASM 515 explicitly begins only two days after “Sins Past.”  However, it can’t be after the “Skin Deep” storyline, since that ends with the destruction of Aunt May’s home and the Parkers moving to Stark Tower.  Luckily the story allows for the passage of time in that montage, which was probably done intentionally to let it catch up with events in the sister titles.  For my purposes, I’m assuming that Spidey joining the Avengers took place during that p. 18 montage as well, sometime after Drowned in Thunder.  The opening 12-issue story arc of Marvel Knights: Spider-Man must also follow DIT, since that storyline ends with Jameson believing his son is Spider-Man.  This is a bit confusing since the majority of that storyline was published before “Skin Deep,” but it’s the only way I can see to reconcile the continuities of the various titles.
I am also assuming that this novel takes place not long after the previous two Spidey novels from Pocket Star, Down These Mean Streets by Keith R.A. DeCandido and The Darkest Hours by Jim Butcher.
Chapter 1: In the Chill
1   n/a Except where otherwise specified, the chapter titles come from the famous theme song to the 1967 Spider-Man animated series, with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster and music by Bob Harris.  The theme song is also featured in all three of Sam Raimi’s Spidey movies.
2 1/1/1:45


The first time I visited Manhattan after getting this novel assignment, I discovered it could get incredibly windy even at street level, with the buildings concentrating the wind.  A visit to the top of the Empire State Building verified that the winds were even stronger up there.  Updrafts along the sides of skyscrapers can reach hundreds of MPH.  Realistically, this would make webslinging virtually impossible.  I realized I’d have to address the issue somehow.
I’m sure there have been comics where Spidey has webslung without a working spider-sense; indeed, it happens later in this very novel.  Perhaps the wind was very mild on those occasions.  Also, his “senseless” webslinging in this novel takes place mostly in low, open regions rather than among the skyscrapers of Manhattan, so the wind would be less of a factor.  (I only wish I could say I planned it that way.)
4 1/1/3:35


The Marvel Encyclopedia volume on Spider-Man places his apartment at the time of this novel in LoHo, the neighborhood south of East Houston Street in Manhattan.  The F train is the best way to get there from Midtown, according to my city map. (Audio: This is changed to SoHo in the audiobook. I’m not sure why. But the F train would still work for that.)
1/1/4:05 I’m implicitly assuming that the play MJ is rehearsing for in this book is Cats Always Lie, the play featured in the ASM storylines around the timeframe of this book.
5 1/1/4:45 Many early issues written by Stan Lee assumed that the spider-sense could be interfered with by heavy rain, smoke clouds, etc.  For example, Mysterio used a smoke cloud to disrupt the spider-sense in his first appearance, ASM #13 (Jun ’64).  Mr. Lee’s version of the spider-sense was more physical and less pseudo-psychic than later authors sometimes interpreted it to be.  I’ve followed Mr. Lee’s precedent for the most part.
6   n/a horripilation: The hair standing on end in response to fear or alarm.  In trying to figure out just what “My spider-sense is tingling” actually means, I decided the simplest interpretation was the “spine-tingling” or “chills” sensation of horripilation.
1/1/5:15 In the first draft, the heist was at a generic department store.  Just after finishing it, I came to Manhattan for Comic-Con and took the opportunity to research local color, architecture, and geography for the revised draft.  So I walked around the area of this sequence looking for a suitable store for the heist.  I’d almost settled for a K-Mart on 34th Street when I arrived at Herald Square and realized I was across the street from Macy’s.  Duh….
7 1/1/5:35 I’ve since been informed by my colleague David Mack that the NYPD are, in fact, trained to fire into a crowd in at least some circumstances. However, I assume (and hope) they’d limit it to extreme life-and-death circumstances rather than a simple robbery.
1/1/6:00 Confound it!  The batteries are dead!: An homage to a classic Adam West line from the 1966 Batman movie. (Audio: The allusion is deleted from the audiobook.)
8 1/1/6:45 ASM #63 (Aug ’68) by Stan Lee showed that Spidey’s webbing wouldn’t solidify in heavy rain.  Later writers ignored this, so I assumed Peter reformulated the webbing.
13 1/2/2:30


Spidey’s capture and protection by Captain Stacy occurred in ASM #65 (Oct ’68) by Stan Lee.  Stacy died in ASM #89-90 (Oct-Nov ’70), also by Lee.
Chapter 2: Spins a Web, Any Size
16 1/2/6:30 Barker and his owner Caryn were supporting characters in the PPSM and SSM comics written by Paul Jenkins, first appearing in PPSM #30 (Jun ’01).
18   n/a MJ played Lady Macbeth in The Darkest Hours.
20ff 1/3/2:40ff Most of the “guest” character names in this book are taken from the cast and crew of the ’90s animated Spidey series.  An exception is Jenny Hardesty (p. 25, omitted from the audiobook), a character from Straczynski’s ASM run (specifically ASM Vol. 2 #37, Jan ’02).
26-7 1/3/7:05 Peter’s last-period general science class and the details of the faculty lounge are from Down These Mean Streets.
30   n/a The underlined phrases in JJJ’s blog entries are meant to represent hyperlinks to other sites and articles.  Since underlining in manuscripts generally represents italics, it took some doing to make sure the underlines were properly rendered.
1/3/10:25 Eddie Barnes is named in honor of Ed Asner and Christopher Daniel Barnes, the voices of Jameson and Spidey respectively in the ’90s animated series.
31 1/3/11:45 Nicholas Kaproff is named in honor of Nicholas Hammond, star of the ’70s live-action Spidey TV series, and Dana Kaproff, composer for that series’ second season.
Chapter 3: Hey, You Guys!
33   n/a The chapter title is the opening cry from The Electric Company, the PBS educational show from the ’70s, which had a regular Spider-Man segment.  Electro — Electric Company — get it?  (Yes, it’s a terrible pun, but the great thing about writing Spidey is that terrible puns are expected.)
1/4/1:10 The presence of the NY Public Library is a bit of an homage to the first Spidey movie, in which Uncle Ben was killed in front of the building.  It’s also just here because I really love the building.
35   n/a Spidey battled the stone lions in ASM #311 (Jan ’89) by David Michelinie.  It was unclear whether the lions were a manifestation of the Inferno storyline occurring at the time (an X-Men crossover event involving demons taking over Manhattan) or one of the illusions created by Mysterio in the issue.
1/4/2:48 Audio: I’m not sure a guard in a library would call out as loudly as the guard does here. In my experience the instruction to present one’s bag for inspection is more one-on-one and less verbose. But given the lack of echo, the guard here is probably standing in the entranceway, addressing the students as a group before they enter the building.
36 1/4/3:05 Audio: The reading room being referenced is the Rose Main Reading Room, which I described in a passage deleted from the audiobook.
37   n/a Quite by accident, the wardrobe I describe here for Peter is a good match for the outfit he routinely wore in the ’90s animated series from the second season onward.
38ff 1/4/4:55ff My description of how the web mesh is formed is inspired by a form of spray-on clothing that’s been developed in the real world.  My descriptions of the web-shooter’s operations are based on the various descriptions in the comics over the years, but with some of my own interpretations added.  Another slightly different explanation of the web-shooters can be found at MarvelUniverse.com.  The “bungee-cord” effect is my own conjecture to explain how Spidey can use a webline to raise himself off the ground.
39 1/4/6:50 My placement of the Baxter Building was, again, based on the Marvel Encyclopedia‘s Manhattan map, which places it on 5th Avenue somewhere around 54th or 55th Street.  But MarvelUniverse.com gives its official location as 42nd and Madison, which would be behind Spidey at this point.  Well, maybe one of Reed’s experiments moved it temporarily?  (I made a point of referencing the Fantastic Four here since in Watchers on the Walls I somehow managed to make several references to the individual team members and “the FF” without ever actually writing the phrase “Fantastic Four.”)
40   n/a The “old Fleischer cartoon” Spidey is thinking of is “The Mechanical Monsters,” the second Superman cartoon produced by the Fleischer Studios in 1941.
41 1/4/8:10 The older policeman is meant to resemble Stan Lee.  My editor told me to plot my Marvel novels as though they were movies, so naturally Stan had to have cameos in both of them.
1/4/8:25 “Talented amateur” was the description of Mrs. Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) in the title sequence to the television series The Avengers (no relation to the Marvel superhero team).
44-5 1/5/4:30ff I hope my description of the interior of the Jewelry 55 building is accurate.  On my Manhattan trip, I went to the Diamond District to check its geography and get some reference photos, but I chickened out of actually going into the exchange building, for fear that a guy coming in to take pictures and not buy anything might attract the suspicion of the guards.  I did peek in through the windows, though.
47 1/5/7:00 Van der Waals forces are what insects, arachnids, and geckos use to cling to walls and ceilings.  Basically they use many microscopic hairs to increase the area of contact with the molecules of a surface and thus amplify the weak intermolecular forces.  I’m implicitly assuming here that Spidey’s sticky fingers work the way they were shown to in the first movie, with lots of tiny hairs or setae extending from their tips.
1/5/7:30 Electro’s trick of cancelling out Spidey’s clinging ability was first seen in SSM Vol. 1 #134 (Jan ’88) by Peter David, and rarely or never seen again. SPOILER: Dillon’s intelligence in remembering this trick now is a clue to what’s really happened to him, though at this point his own personality is in control.
50   n/a Spidey saved Dillon’s life in the “Light the Night” arc in Spider-Man Vol. 1 #38-40 (Sep-Nov ’93) by J. M. DeMatteis.  Dillon sought revenge for that perceived humiliation in ASM #422-3 (Apr-May ’97) by Tom DeFalco.
54 1/6/7:50 One of the buildings in the zone endangered by the robots’ rampage is the Simon & Schuster headquarters where Pocket Books’ offices are located.  Luckily my editor’s office was on an upper floor so he was in no peril.
56 2/1/1:35 The LED indicators are a component of the improved web-shooters that Peter designed in ASM #297 (Feb ’88) by David Michelinie.  They haven’t been mentioned subsequently as far as I know, but I see no reason not to assume they’re still present.
Chapter 4: Wherever There’s a Hang-Up
60ff   n/a Isn’t it neat how the newspaper article is printed in a newspaper-like column width, even narrower than the “blog entries”?  That was the doing of Marco, my editor.  I really like it.
66 2/2/4:35 Spidey was usually one of the featured heroes in the Marvel Team-Up series, hence his eclectic history of team-ups.  Meanwhile, this sequence is ironic given that he would join the New Avengers shortly after this story.
68ff 2/2/6:25ff Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, staged Flash Thompson’s accident in PPSM 44-47, “Return of the Goblin” (Aug-Oct ’02), by Paul Jenkins.  The aftermath of this was followed in Jenkins’ subsequent work on PPSM and its successor series SSM.  Liz Allan and Jill Stacy were seen as members of Peter’s social circle in those comics, though their backstories are too complicated to go into here. Jill vanished from the narrative once Jenkins’s run ended, which was shortly after the time frame of this novel. Around the same time, Flash miraculously recovered from his coma, albeit with partial amnesia, as revealed in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #4 (Mar ’06) by Peter David.
I really should’ve found some way to make more use of these characters than this single scene.  I fear the lack of followup keeps their inclusion from working as well as it should.
70 2/2/9:05 “Don’t be alarmed, ladies…”: Peter is paraphrasing a line from the Freakazoid! animated series.
Chapter 5: Someday I’m Going to Murder the Bugler
76   n/a The chapter title is from Irving Berlin’s Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning, a classic World War I song.
78 2/4/2:00 Robbie’s musings about the need for a publisher to be tough are based on his thoughts about Jonah from ASM #123 (Aug ’73) by Gerry Conway.
84   n/a Jonah confessed his involvement in the Scorpion’s creation and stepped down as Bugle editor in ASM #249-251 (Feb-Apr. ’84) by Roger Stern.
89   n/a The Blendo robot really existed, and was the first collaborative effort of FX artists Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, best known today as the stars of MythBusters on the Discovery Channel.
90 2/6/2:00-


The use of the spider-sense to give Spidey a spatial awareness of his surroundings was common in the ’60s and ’70s.  See, for instance, ASM #114 (Nov. ’72, Conway), in which the sense lets Spidey figure out how to adjust Hammerhead’s rotating office so that its window aligns with the street, allowing him to escape.  This was generally overlooked in later years, as the concept of the spider-sense as a heightened physical awareness of Spidey’s surroundings gave way to the notion of a pseudo-psychic power specifically attuned to “danger” in any form.  In this book I’ve tried to reconcile those.
96 2/7/2:10 The Yellow Kid was the first newspaper comic strip, and the dirty tactics waged between newspaper syndicates in their attempts to acquire this profitable strip gave birth to the term “yellow journalism,” which came to mean disreputable, sensationalist, or false reporting in the name of boosting newspaper sales (essentially what’s now known as tabloid journalism). (Audio: I’m not sure why this was changed to “Blowhard Kid” in the audiobook, since the Yellow Kid is in the public domain. In fact, he’s actually a character in the Marvel Universe, having appeared as a mutant in Runaways v. 2 #27 and #30 by Joss Whedon. Heck, maybe that’s why. If he’s a real person in the MU, then he wouldn’t have been a historical comic-strip character to whom Spidey could make obscure allusions.)
Chapter 6: Spider-Sense and Sensibility
98   n/a For once, the chapter title isn’t a song lyric, just a play on Sense and Sensibility.
100ff 2/7/6:10ff While this book offers a fairly scientific explanation for the spider-sense, it doesn’t quite work.  Only some species of spider have the kind of motion sensitivity I describe, and it’s because of the tiny hairs that cover their body.  I suppose it’s possible that Peter is covered all over with fine sensory hairs, but I didn’t want to suggest that.  Besides, such a system wouldn’t work with that all-concealing Spidey suit in the way.  (And his stickiness shouldn’t work through gloves and boots, unless the setae are proportionately very long.)
For that matter, the spider strength wouldn’t scale up either, because it’s a function of the spider’s anatomy and structural design.  A human body couldn’t be made much stronger without completely redesigning its anatomy.  Indeed, spiders aren’t really known for being exceptionally strong in proportion to their size anyway.
102-3 2/7/9:10 May’s stint as Doc Ock’s housekeeper, in which she smashed a vase over Spidey’s head, was seen in ASM #114-115 (Nov-Dec ’72) by Gerry Conway.
2/7/9:40 MJ’s pillow attack setting off Peter’s spider-sense was seen in “These Great Powers,” a backup story in Spider-Man Vol. 1 #26 (Sep ’92) by Tom DeFalco.  There’s really no good way to reconcile that with the way the spider-sense usually works.
104 2/7/10:40-


JJJ’s creation of the Scorpion was in ASM #25 (Jun ’65, Lee); specifically, on p. 8 he lured Spidey into a trap and didn’t set off the spider-sense.  (Something very similar happened in ASM Annual #10 with Jameson’s creation of the Human Fly.)  JJJ confronting Peter with the photos proving his identity was in ASM #169 (Jun ’77, Len Wein).  Chameleon-as-JJJ did set off the spider-sense in Web of Spider-Man #51 (Jun ’89, Conway).  There may be instances where JJJ did set off the spider-sense, but not as far as I could find in the comics I’ve read.
105 2/8/1:00 The sprawling “Clone Saga” is one of the most reviled storylines of the Spidey comics, considered to have gone on way too long and gotten far too complicated.  In-universe, it was a very traumatic period in Peter’s life.
110 3/1/4:40 The last time the Chameleon was featured prior to the timeframe of this novel, he was in an asylum, though my sources don’t specify which one (it was a story I wasn’t able to track down and read).  I’ve assumed it was the Ravencroft asylum featured in the 1990s comics and animated series.
111 3/1/5:25 I’m aware the real prison in the East River is Rikers Island, but “Ryker’s” is the Marvel-Universe spelling.  (And of course in Futurama‘s 31st century we have “Commander Riker’s Island.”)
113 3/1/7:50 Jameson took a bat to Smythe in ASM Vol. 2 #21 (Sep ’00) by Howard Mackie.  The character did not return in the comics prior to the events of this novel, though he made a comeback in 2011.
117 3/2/1:20 Audio: MJ’s abduction was referenced on p. 18 of the print version, but the reference was removed here. MJ seemingly died in a jet explosion in ASM Vol. 2 #13 by Howard Mackie and John Byrne, but Mackie revealed in ASM Vol. 2 #28 that a stalker had faked her death and held her prisoner for several months before Spidey discovered and rescued her. As I said in the novel, “She’d needed time to recover from the trauma and find herself, to compensate for the feelings of helplessness she’d endured for so long.  And so she had left him for a time, moving to Los Angeles and working to build a life for herself as something other than Mrs. Spider-Man.” This was the status quo at the beginning of the J. Michael Straczynski run on ASM, in which Peter eventually won MJ back.
117-9 3/2/1:35


The Robot Master’s “assimilation” took place in PPSM #27-28 (Mar-Apr ’01) by Paul Jenkins.  The character did not return in the comics prior to this novel, though Jenkins brought him back in a 2007 Civil War tie-in miniseries called Penance: Relentless.  Edwin Hills is from PPSM 53-55 (Apr-Jun ’03) by Zeb Wells.
119 3/2/3:35 The “Triple-X business” involving Doc Ock is from Down These Mean Streets.  Peter told off Doctor Doom in ASM Vol. 2 #50 (Apr ’03) by Straczynski.
121   n/a Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth) was the wife (later ex-wife) of Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers and Frasier.
Chapter 7: From a Thread
128   n/a Bud Collyer was the voice of Superman in the radio and animated series of the 1940s-60s.  Naturally, on radio he had to give Clark and Superman very distinct voices so listeners could tell them apart.
131   n/a Peter faked photos showing that Spidey was Electro in ASM #9 (Feb ’64, Lee), the villain’s first appearance.
133ff 3/4/all The following image illustrates Spider-Man’s route across Midtown as he battles the cablebots. The chase begins at the far right of the image.  Spider-Man’s route is in red (dashed when hidden behind a building).  Certain of Spider-Man’s weblines and nets are depicted in red.  Certain key cablebot positions are denoted in blue.  (Photo montage by the author, taken from the Empire State Building observation deck in February 2006.)

Drowned in Thunder Cablebot Chase

Click to enlarge

1: The Daily Bugle building is at the corner of Thirty-ninth and Second.  The red skyscraper here (Highpoint Condominiums) is at the same intersection.  Assume the Bugle building is just beyond the edge of the photo.
2: The Burroughs Building.  Spidey’s webline to its corner is shown.
3: 600 Third Avenue.  Site of first cablebot encounter (a), which begins on the side of the building facing away from the viewer.
4: Dryden East Apartments.  The websling where Spidey lands after his long fall (shown in red) stretches between the Dryden East building to the south and Murray Hill East Suites to the north.
5: The Court hotel at Thirty-ninth and Lexington.
6: 360 Lexington (not mentioned in text), “climbed stepwise” by Spidey to head northeast.
7: Mobil Building. Site of second cablebot attack.
8: Chrysler Building, to which the two cablebots attach (b, c) to block Spidey’s northward route.
9: Top of Chanin Building (sticking out behind the big black 101 Park Avenue building).
10: Lefcourt Colonial Building (not mentioned in text), Spidey’s anchor point when he veers south on Madison.  Note that this intersection is where the Baxter Building is officially located.
11: 425 Fifth Avenue, where Spidey makes his stand (on the right-hand face, hidden from view).
12: 260 Madison Avenue.  Used by first cablebot (d) as anchor point.
13: Mercantile Building.  Used by cablebots as anchor point.
14: Water towers where first cablebot is destroyed.  Manhattan’s bedrock limits water pressure, requiring all buildings above 6 stories to have rooftop water towers.
15: Fifth Avenue Tower, where final confrontation occurs (mostly hidden from view by 425 Fifth).  Note web-netting on side of building.

The cablebots are inspired by the SpiderCam, a rig developed by the makers of Spider-Man 2 to film that movie’s swooping aerial shots.  The remote-controlled camera reels itself along cables rigged to allow it to move smoothly and rapidly in three dimensions.  The rig has been used in other films including Mission: Impossible 3.
137 3/4/5:15 They evolved, they rebelled…: Quoting the opening sequence of the modern Battlestar Galactica, in reference to the robotic Cylons.
138 3/4/6:05 By coincidence, the 425 Fifth Avenue building and others surrounding it are visible in the background of some of the climactic shots from the movie Spider-Man 3.
Chapter 8: A Great Big Bang-Up
149 3/5/9:30 Jonah is exaggerating when he says there were warrants out for Spidey’s arrest on the majority of occasions when he sent out Spider-Slayers or other robots to hunt him down.  I believe it was on two occasions at most: in ASM #58 (Mar ’68, Lee), shortly after a brainwashed Spidey had joined Doctor Octopus on a crime spree, and in ASM #167 (Apr ’77, Wein), during the time when Spidey was wanted for questioning in the deaths of George and Gwen Stacy.  There were no warrants out for Spidey in Jameson’s other two robotic spider-hunts, in ASM #25 (Jun ’65, Lee) and #105 (Feb ’72, Lee).
156 3/6/6:15 “your third play in two months”: After The Z-Axis in Down These Mean Streets and Macbeth in The Darkest Hours.
161 4/1/4:30 As far as I could determine at the time of the novel’s writing, it had never been definitively established what the J. stands for in J. Jonah Jameson, though “John” was considered the most likely candidate. But in 2009, JJJ was revealed to have been adopted, and his biological father, John Jonah Jameson, Sr., debuted in ASM #578 (Jan. 2009, Mark Waid). Thus, Jonah’s full name is now established as John Jonah Jameson, Jr. Which I suppose makes him JJJJ rather than just JJJ.
162-4   n/a Jameson’s recollections of Spidey’s early career, and particularly his concern that he may have unwittingly helped drive Spider-Man to vigilantism, are based on “How I Created Spider-Man!” by David Michelinie, a backup story in ASM #365 (Aug. 1992), the 30th-anniversary issue of the title.  Michelinie’s story was invaluable to me in figuring out what made Jameson tick.
165 4/1/6:40 Jameson’s abusive father was established in Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #20 (Jan ’03, Zeb Wells). As mentioned above, David Jameson was later revealed to be his adoptive father.
  n/a Jameson revealed his jealousy of Spider-Man’s heroism in a soliloquy in ASM #10 (Mar ’64, Lee).  Later writers portrayed JJJ in a more positive, philanthropic light, changing him from Lee’s Scroogelike scoundrel into a basically noble figure who had one huge blind spot where Spidey was concerned.  In the paragraphs that follow, I attempt to reconcile these.
Chapter 9: Where Are You Comin’ From?
168   n/a The chapter title is from the theme song to the Spidey segments on The Electric Company, composed by Gary William Friedman.
176 4/3/0:05 “Jigsaw Jameson” is my homage to “Guilty,” a Jameson-centric episode of the 1990s animated series, written by John Semper, Larry Brody, and Meg McLaughlin.  In that episode, Jameson hit the streets to clear Robbie Robertson of a crime, claiming that “Jigsaw” had been his nickname in his old reporting days.  The nickname was never referenced in the comics as far as I know, which is why nobody recognizes it here.
179 4/3/4:00 The android impostors of Peter’s parents appeared in ASM #363-388 (Jun ’92-Apr ’94, Michelinie), although their true nature wasn’t revealed until the end of the storyline.
Chapter 10: At the Scene of the Crime
189   n/a May solved the Restwell Nursing Home caper in a Mike W. Barr-written backup story in ASM #220 (Sep ’81).
194 4/4/7:35 The Tinkerer’s brief supervillain career and his henchbot Toy were featured in ASM #160 (Sep ’76, Wein), ASM #183 (Aug ’78, Marv Wolfman), and SSM Vol. 1 #53 (Apr. ’81, Bill Mantlo).
197 4/5/1:35 There are real-life prototypes for robots that consume meat for energy, although they use microbes rather than furnaces to do the digesting.  See for example http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/12/27/explorers.ecobot/index.html and http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/2000/D/200003032.html.
200 4/5/5:10 Yes, the marshal from Gunsmoke was Matt Dillon, not Max, but it’s not the first time the similarity has been noted in the Spideyverse.
Chapter 11: Senseless Violence
202   n/a The chapter title is an allusion to the title of a trade paperback collection of PPSM #51-57 (Feb-Aug ’03, Zeb Wells), but it’s also a reference to the fact that Spidey is fighting without his spider-sense in this chapter.
4/6/0:25 Gargantua is a giant from a series of satirical 16th-century novels by the French author Rabelais, collectively known as Gargantua and Pantagruel.
My characterization of Electro here is more in keeping with his appearances in recent years than with his early appearances, in which he spoke in a much more formal and stilted manner, like most supervillains of the day.  His more lowbrow speech and personality are more in keeping with an electrical lineman turned petty hood, and create a greater contrast with… well, you’ll see in a few pages.
216 4/7/4:55


I modelled my description of the location and layout of Ryker’s Island on the real Rikers Island, though I don’t know if they really correspond that closely. Come to think of it, I believe at least one Spidey comic shows Ryker’s to have at least one rather high cliff overlooking the river, though that may have been a different prison.
217 4/7/7:05 There was actually a Stan Lee-written ASM issue that referred to Spidey’s “awesome power of chest expansion.”  No kidding.  (From the look of things, the Black Cat apparently has the same power… at least when Terry Dodson or Adam Hughes is drawing her.)
Chapter 12: Partners in Danger
226   n/a The chapter title is an homage to the blanket title of the fourth season of the ’90s animated Spidey series, though that was actually “Partners in Dangers” (which I felt was a bit too awkward).
227 5/1/1:10


MJ is overreacting here; in fact, the New York state law banning the use of cell phones while driving makes an exception for hands-free devices.  (Although it really shouldn’t; the danger comes from the mental distraction of talking while driving, not just from having a hand occupied.)  Although she is in violation of the law once she actually answers the phone a paragraph later.
230 5/1/3:45 In recent years, the comics have treated Peter’s spider-sense as a well-kept secret; for instance, in the recent Civil War arc, Spidey was surprised that Iron Man had deduced the existence of the ability.  But go back to the early Stan Lee issues, and it was an open secret well-known to his foes.  Indeed, within the first five issues of ASM, both the Chameleon and Doctor Doom independently deduced the existence of the spider-sense and invented ways to tap into it to send messages to Spider-Man.  In subsequent years, Spidey often indulged in the then-common superhero habit of narrating how his abilities worked while he used them.
233 5/1/6:45 Yep, Spidey is doing a riff on the classic Pinky and the Brain “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” routine.  The other punchline I considered was “I think so, Jonah.  But how do we convince Galactus that planets are high in carbs?” (Audio: In the audiobook, my gag, “I think so, Jonah, but somehow ‘Tor Topus’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it,” is replaced with an actual Pinky comeback from P&tB episode 9, “Brainania”: “but pantyhose are so uncomfortable in the summertime.” Granted, mine was pretty lame, but at least it was Marvel-specific.)
Chapter 13: Machine in the Ghost
239   n/a This is the only chapter title that isn’t a Spidey ref of any kind, just a play on “Ghost in the Machine.”
5/2/2:00 Audio: I love it that the sound effect of the spider-tracker is the scanning sound of the Martian War Machines from George Pal’s War of the Worlds (1953). Peter is just geeky enough to have sampled the sound intentionally.
240 5/2/2:55 On my trip to the 2006 New York Comic-Con, while this novel was in development, the Greyhound bus passed through the New Jersey Meadowlands and I was quite struck by its flat, open, sparse geography.  I realized that it would be a horrible place for webslinging and thus an ideal place for a villain’s lair in this novel.  As it turned out, the location proved to have an additional benefit for this story (see p. 245, or 5/2/8:55).
  n/a Chlorite infiltration: A nod to my X-Men novel.
242 5/2/5:00 Perhaps the most memorable underwater base Spidey had to deal with was the base of the “Master Planner” (Doc Ock) in ASM #31-33 (Dec ’65-Feb ’66, Lee), the classic “If This Be My Destiny…!” storyline.  Watch for another allusion to this story in the next chapter (mostly deleted from the audiobook).
245-6 5/3/0:25ff For more on self-replicating robots and the technologies they might employ, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-replicating_machine.  Auxons also figure in my novelette “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele.”
249 5/3/5:05 “Is that Robot J. Master?”: This time Spidey is borrowing a gag from a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon.  “Is that Arch J. Fiend?”
250   n/a The bald alien woman and the guy from Seventh Heaven are Persis Khambatta as Ilia and Stephen Collins as Decker in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Thanks to the wonders of the ever-shifting Marvel timeframe, Peter Parker and friends attended the 1979 premiere of that movie in ASM #203 (Apr ’80), in a story written by Marv Wolfman, also the editor of Marvel’s Star Trek comics at the time.  The Spidey of this novel, however, would not have been born yet in 1979.
251 5/3/7:20 Yep, I actually came up with an excuse for a scene of the villain explaining his plot to the hero in excruciating detail.
5/3/8:30 I originally intended the Tinkerer to be a red herring, but once I got to this scene, I realized that Robey Jr. would’ve needed an accomplice on the outside.
Chapter 14: Gonna Light Up the Dark
262   n/a The title is a line from the Electric Company theme by Joe Raposo.
264   n/a Morlun was the villain in the first J. Michael Straczynski arc in ASM V. 2 #30-35 (Jun-Nov ’01).  The Darkest Hours was a direct sequel to that arc.
265 5/5/6:25 MJ’s plane was blown up in ASM V. 2 #13 (Jan ’00, Mackie), though it was later revealed that it had been done to hide her abduction.
  n/a The Red Skull was revealed as the killer of Peter’s parents in ASM Annual 5 (1968, Lee).  Kraven buried Spidey alive in “Kraven’s Last Hunt” by J. M. DeMatteis, a crossover spanning all the Spidey titles in Oct-Nov ’87.  The events in Doc Ock’s flooding base, and the deathless dialogue quoted later (“A man may lose…”), are from “If This Be My Destiny…!” (see p. 242 note).
270-1 5/6/3:10ff Electro’s backstory and family life were revealed in ASM #422 (Apr ’97, Tom De Falco).
Chapter 15: Whatever a Spider Can
278 5/7/2:00 Yes, Peter’s line about getting back to the status quo is my little jab at the need for most tie-in novels to wrap up with nothing actually being changed.
  5/7/2:20 Peter should say “trying so hard…that I closed myself off” rather than “trying too hard.” I can forgive him a grammatical slip in his condition, but I should’ve caught it.
Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder audiobook cast
  • Tim Getman as Spider-Man
  • Terence Aselford as J. Jonah Jameson
  • Alyssa Wilmoth as Mary Jane Watson
  • Lily Beacon as Aunt May
  • David Jourdan as Electro
  • KenYatta Rogers as Robbie Robertson
  • Regen Wilson as Ben Urich and Phineas Mason
  • Steven Carpenter as Alistaire Smythe
  • Jeff Allin as Reed Richards
  • Kimberly Gilbert as Dawn Lukens
  • Nora Achrati as Marla Jameson and Jill Stacy
  • Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey as Betty Brant
  • Mark Halpern as Blush Barrass and Bobby Ribeiro
  • Ren Kasey as Liz Allan

with Bradley Smith, Joe Brack, Casie Platt, Joel David Santner, David Harris, Patrick Bussink, Thomas Penny, Christopher Scheeren, Scott McCormick, Thomas Keegan, and Tim Pabon


  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: