It’s the Amazing, Spectacular, Sensational, Web of the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!!!

 

 

A QUICK INTRO:

Fans of the Amazing Spider-Man will all undoubtedly be aware of the wall crawler’s history with animation. I say all considering the character’s most popular and enduring theme song came from one of the first cartoons he appeared in. Spider-Man has had many various shows throughout his career, some good, some bad. The most lauded of these is the 1994 animated series simply titled Spider-Man starring Christopher Daniel Barnes, voicing a Nick Hammond inspired designed Peter Parker. If nothing else, what people take away from that show is the fact that we got to hear Spider-Man’s ever present internal monologue that the comic book is known for. We always heard the characters thoughts, wether he was getting beaten up by a half red/half black Venom, or nagged at by an annoying Madam Web doing her best Yoda impressions. The shows that followed from then on also included Spidey’s internal monologuing, despite the presentations of the character being radically different. On the one hand we got a show rife with Spider-Man 2099 homages while Spider-Man battled a Rob Liefeld designed Carnage on Counter-Earth. On the other hand, we got a show directed to the MTV audience, with a conspicuously blonde Harry Osborn instructing college students to, and I quote: “Stay home, and watch R-RATED dvds”….yeah. So with that in mind, why is it that basic idea of Spider-Man (a young man trying to atone for a fatal mistake by getting involved with megalomaniacal science projects and wacky love triangles) seems to be lost in the many attempts there have been to bring the character to the television screen?

 

 

  Separated at birth?

 

That brings us to the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series. If you’re a fan of the website then you’ve no doubt listened to the TWO podcast reviews our pal Brad has done with Producer Greg Weisman and Puny Parker VA Josh Keaton. So I’ll forgo the background as to the intentions of the many men and women behind the product, and allow the work to speak for itself.
 This dude is always angry!

Survival Of The Fittest

Credits
Written by Greg Weisman
Directed by Victor Cook
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Dongwoo animation

THE PLOT:

After spending the summer making a name for himself in the criminal underworld, Spider-Man a.k.a. Peter Parker starts his junior year in High School with three things in mind. He must get a job to help his recently widowed and always worrying Aunt May, make a date with typical cheerleader snob Sally Avril, and defeat New York’s first in a long line of supervillains in the Vulture. Unbeknownst to the web-head, mercenaries called the Enforcers have been hired by the mysterious Big Man of crime to eliminate the Spider-Man problem that has been disturbing the machinations of the criminal underworld.

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT:

Spider-Man manages to take down the Vulture, capture two-thirds of the Enforcers and save Norman Osborn’s life. Unfortunately, Peter finds out that his new after-school job doesn’t pay and that he suddenly has a 10:00 curfew. Despite all this, with Spider-Man being undefeated and Aunt May still as sweet as her Banana-Cream pie, Peter remains as optimistic about his life as he did when the day began. Ho, thats going to last.

 “Rollin’ in da club, wit my Escalade….”

 

MY THOUGHTS:

Tell me there’s something better. Go ahead. Try. These are the first words we hear in the entire series, and its certainly true for me seeing as how I completley forgot the show was premiering the day it did and only caught that last line. Luckily the show was quickly re-run and I saw the whole thing, but I digress. The words spoken by Peter are very much prophetic and meta-textual in how effective this show is at portraying the true Spider-Man and his world. Right away, we are shown the dynamic and creative ways that Spider-Man gets around New York as he swings and leaps and jumps from building to building. Thats the first in a long line of things that this episode does right in terms of presentation, set-up and storytelling. The whole episode goes by very quickly, but we are entertained by the quick jumps from character to character in nearly each and every scene. There’s about twenty-five plus characters that appear throughout the series that premiere here, and this isn’t even the full cast. Of course we go through the usual suspects of Aunt May, Flash Thompson, Jonah Jameson and Norman Osborn. But the way several mainstays are portrayed here in quick succession without it feeling too fast is a talent that this show will exploit again and again throughout the (as of this writing) two seasons.

 

 The plot worked itself out fine with themes of revenge, power, misfortune and greed all playing out with half of the characters, yet the subtlety of it fully fleshes them out. Peter Parker in some ways has always been a short-sighted character, and thats an aspect of him that we see time and again in this episode alone. It’d be annoying if it weren’t for the fact that he’s a teenager. A teenager with super powers. Its a personality trait, but its also a curse of his age that we hope to see disolve as the show continues and the character matures.

LOLWEBFACE!

 

 

For the villains, there were many to enjoy and I had virtually no complaints. As Shadow116 on the boards can attest to, I’ve never been warm to the Vulture. He’s always been a cranky old guy who flies and yells at Spider-Man. Sure his strength is increased from time to time, and every now and then he can suck up your youth like a straw. But the guy’s still annoying. In this incarnation..I still find him annoying. But not so annoying that I can’t watch him. Freddy Kruger does a solid job voicing Adrian Toomes, and I do like the switch-up from the comics that Toomes was the guy that Norman sold out to, not Gaunt. Thats one thing you’ll see in this show, constant villain interactions. They all know each other, which is very Venture Brothers-esque. But its fine. The Enforcers were shown to be pretty cool too, although as slick as Montana’s lines were (and always are in the show) he does get a tad being annoying after a while just because of his hackneyed accent. I don’t dislike him at all, but by the end of every episode I find myself think “Shut up!” Luckily, Spidey always shuts him up in the end.

 PWNED

 

Overall this was an very effective and solid start to the series. The animation was very good, the dialogue was great, the plot was solid, and the action delivered. This show really reminded me why I’m a Spider-Man fan, by making me care again for Peter Parker.

4.5/5 webheads

*Best Line contender: “Ah, look. Beaky. I admire anyone who dresses up as their favorite animal. Better still, you can fly! So I gotta ask, you heard the one about great power coming with great responsibility?”

Images taken from toonzone.net

29 Responses to “Spectacular Spider-Man: the animated series #1-“Survival of the Fittest” Review”

  1. #1 Wellness says:

    The greatest Spider-Man series of all time…and to think you may only do 26 of these is heart-wrenching enough…

  2. #2 persian-spider says:

    Lemme tell you something,I have read very spider-man comic ever published, played every spider-man video game ever released, watched any spider-man film (live-action or animated) and watched all the animated series based on DC or marvel characters and I am telling you that Spectacular Spider-man is not only the best adaption of Marvel\’s flagship character outside of the comics (on par with \”Spider-man 2\”) but is one of the best superhero shows in the history of TV.

  3. #3 J Yamma says:

    spectacular spidey is outperforming wolverine and the x-men, but it is the latter which is picked up for another season solely based on its ratings overseas! and let’s not forget that wolverine is a mediocre show at best that gets only mixed reviews. what is the world coming to?! is there any justice in this cruel world? come on Disney give us teh third season of this spectacular (no oun intended) show.

  4. #4 Berserkfury819 says:

    So you’re the new reviewer Don. Congrats! And great job.

  5. #5 funnykay says:

    Damn you Don. You beat me. You really deserve it though. This is better than my review in all honesty.

  6. #6 Wellness says:

    The one saving grace about “Wolverine…” is that it actually gives the fans what they want and has Scott see sense and disown Emma. That episode where he picks Jean over her was five years in the making for comic fans.

    Other than that, it’s everything cliched about the X-Men…like they can’t do anything new. If they had based it more on Morrison and not the worst of Joss Whedon, it’d be better.

  7. #7 Pelfo says:

    #2 you are on some serious kool-aid thinking that Spectacular spiderman is better than Batman animated.That is total nonsense.I have watch it a few times,but for me I cant get past the lousy animation. Its ok,but come on its not anywhere in the league of Batman animated series.

  8. #8 Iron Lantern says:

    @ 7 (Pelfo)

    So I’m guessing you skipped over: “best adaption of Marvel\’s flagship character outside of the comics (on par with \”Spider-man 2\”) but is one of the best superhero shows in the history of TV.” ?? How does that line say anything about being better than Batman TAS?

    Great review!

  9. #9 Kevin Cushing says:

    Damn. I think the review bar just got raised a couple notches.

  10. #10 Pelfo says:

    #8 because he said its the best superhero show in the historty of tv how do I not defend Batman animated are you serious!!!! thats how I come to my conclusion.I know we like spidey,but DC does do things better than Marvel.Animated show wise DC is far superior than Marvel…I dont care what you guys say its true!!!!!

  11. #11 ironspiderman1983 says:

    this is an execellent show this is by far one of the shows on tv and to review it you have to put your best damn foot forward and my friend you have certainly done that kev was right the reivew bar was raised not the the others werent doing an outstanding job but man you brought it to an exciting new level. i await the next reivew.

    that being said the source material for the review is of the highest caliber and it would be a damn SHAME if there isnt a 3rd season disney owns marvel now and if disney knows one thing its good animation and they should see that this is good animation and jus pick it up from where it stands let mr wiesman continue to do the show he loves also greg has worked for disney before with gargoyles so hopefully he still has some kind of PULL with them if not i’l be sad to see this show end it will be heartbreaking. again great review Don

  12. #12 Donomark says:

    Wow, thanks a lot guys. I’m glad you all enjoyed it. I’ll do two more this week, and expect the ones and the future to come out every Tuesday, if not both Tuesday and Thursday.

  13. #13 -_- says:

    Most JLU eps and a few key btas episodes are better than spec spidey. Not to say spec spidey isnt entertaining, its still an excellent show.

  14. #14 persian-spider says:

    Ok I didn’t want to compare this show to BTAS but now that you started it all lemme unleash hell!
    which one is better? I say Spectacular Spider-man!

    Spectacular Spider-man is a show that is so very serialized and every episode is related to another and the continuity is so tight. This, to some extent, ties the hands of the writers of the show and at the same time adds to its awsomeness .
    But Batman TAS had almost no continuity. I mean you can watch some episode from season 4 and still understand what is going on. The episodes of Batman, while so well-crafted and entertaining, rarely have any interconnectedness. As a viewer, you only have to watch the origin of a villain, like Two Face’s, and then it would make no difference continuity-wise to watch either his second appearance in the series or his tenth! And the writers could simply go pick one helluva storyline from the Batman comics and adapt it as a two-parter without the burden of having a huge cast or advancing many other plotlines lingering from the previous episodes at the same time. This way, they could just handpick some of the greatest spider-man stories of all time and turn them into self-contained kick-ass episodes (storylines like Kraven’s Last Hunt, the awesome Doc ock story in Spectacular Spider-Man 73-79, The Kid who Collected Spider-Man published in ASM #248, the first Hobgoblin story arc published in ASM 238-251, – Who Killed Jean Dewolfe? In Spectacular Spider-Man 107-110 and many many more). Storywise, it is much much easier to produce a show like Batman TAS than it is to make a spectacular Spider-man (pun intended).

  15. #15 persian-spider says:

    now dont even get me started on just how Awseome spectacular spidey’s action sequences are!

  16. #16 persian-spider says:

    and let’s not forget that so far Spectacular Spider-man has not had a bad episode; heck, it hasnt even had an average episode! Batman TAS (which I like tremendosuely and have a great respect for) however, had a few stinkers in its first 20 episodes: The Underdwellers, The Forgotten, Prophecy of Doom and, to some extent, The Cat and the Claw: Part I& II

  17. #17 venom_75 says:

    I guess I’m biased as well,but for me it’s SSM all the way. While I loved BTAS,the were a lot of seperate shows I didn’t care for. The animation was bad and the stories were slow;etc. But I’ve seen every episode of SSM and LOVED each one. I have never been disappointed at all with Spidey.
    In my opinion,it’s the best animated show ever.

  18. #18 GregXB says:

    PELFO> “cant get past the lousy animation.”

    The animation on this show is stunning. You do realize that animation is the fluid movement, right? What you seem to have trouble with are the character designs.

  19. #19 Wellness says:

    …And the designes themselves are actually truer to the character’s energy and outlook…plus it’s cute.

    I’m glad somebody finally knocked Batman: TAS off of it’s elitist high-horse. I love the series, it did great things for the superhero genre and “grew up” the superhero cartoon, but it could be TERRIBLE on a bad day.

    And JLU is also a vastly overrated. The “two parter” format stunk to high hell in the first season, got better in the second, then the switch back to 25-minutes stunk up the third…the fourth is the best, but the fifth spends more time indulging in 1970s Superfriends homages and making the villains out to be the GOOD GUYS…right up until LEX-FRICKIN-LUTHOR SAVES THE UNIVERSE! SOME ending. Superman: TAS, which was often SUPERIOR to Batman: TAS, had a great downer ending which was partially resolved in JLU’s fourth season, but Supes never got his revenge on Darksied. Oh no. Lex Luthor did that. Typical Parker Luc…waaait, this is Superman isnt it?

  20. #20 Pelfo says:

    if you like kiddie looking jap art…then i guess its stuning for you.To me its crap! and doesn’t hold a candle to DC animated shows,but I have to realize i’m dealing with Marvel zombies,so it doesn’t matter what trash they put out…you guys are gonna eat it up. nuff said!

  21. #21 Wellness says:

    Persian-Spider…I find your willignness to shun originality absolutely appauling. Batman: TAS actually doesnt adapt many comic stories (aside from a few exceptions, most notciably Steve Englehart’s “The Laughing Fish”, Adam West’s Batman series acfually adapted FAR MORE), it largely defined the Batman mythos that still carry forward today in the comics. Spectacular Spider-Man has had it’s share of original storylines, doing more logicly consistent things with Gwen, Harry, Norman, Peter, MJ (even in her current role as “the soul mate in the backdrop”)

    If you think people have the attention span of a gnat and can’t follow serialized stories (stories, I may add, that compel you to rewatch episodes and therefore gain reruns a ratings spike, use your head), then I wonder how you got through the 1990s FOX Spider-Man, which, TO THIS DAY, remains THE LONGEST RUNNING SPIDER-MAN SERIES OF ALL TIME.

  22. #22 GregXB says:

    PELFO> Once again, I am talking about animation. What you are complaining about are CHARACTER DESIGNS! Still art is NOT animation. I’ve been in animation studios, I know people who have been in the animation business for decades!

  23. #23 persian-spider says:

    And let’s not forget that in Spectacular Spider-man every episode has to be related to another. And this makes it harder for the writers to multitask: create exciting episodes with really really wonderful action sequences, stay true to the comics, update everything so adroitly for the 21st century and make them look so fresh and at the same time follow the continuity they have firmly established in the show!

  24. #24 SpideyFan914 says:

    I say Spectacular spider-man is better then Batman the Animated series, and it’s not just because I’m biased towards Spider-Man.
    To explain, I’ve copied this post I made on TV.com in response to an argument that BTAS is more mature, emotional, and dramatic.

    Mature: Yeah, Batman is, because, well, it’s Batman. However, one thing which I greatly respect about TSSM is how (as Weisman) it “works in different circles”. Children will enjoy it for its excitement and humor. Older audiences will love it for its character development and intensive plots. Furthermore, there are some tidbits which are targeted for a specific without diminishing the other’s experience – best example being Black Cat’s innuendo.
    Emotional: I’d say they’re about the same, actually. The level of emotion, usually, is directly related to how well-developed and relatable the characters appear, so I’m gonna argue on that note since it’s easier to understand. BTAS has a lot of characters following this criteria – Mr. Freeze, Mad Hatter, Batman himself, etc. – and a bunch who don’t – Clock King, Penguin, Croc, etc. – and a lot in-between – Catwoman, Harley, Bullock, etc. Mainly, BTAS’ most emotional characters are based in tragedy and how it transformed them. TSSM, on the other hand, also has a lot of emotional characters – Spider-Man, Liz, Gwen, etc. – and a bunch who don’t – Sally, Shocker, Betty, etc. – and a lot in-between – JJJ, Flash, Vulture, etc. However, though it does have it’s share of tragedy with guys like Molten Man and Electro, TSSM focuses a lot more of its emotion on issues that people typically face in life, like balancing school with work with friends, and having money troubles, trying to get a girl, etc. So yeah, it’s different types of emotion, but the two are definitely at around the same level.
    Dramatic: Again, like with the emotional, drama isn’t always tragedy. The end of Natural Selection, for example, wasn’t tragic – it was uplifting, even – but it was still definitely dramatic. I’d say they’re at the same pace here as well (considering that dramatic is almost the same thing as emotional ).
    Plus, TSSM does have several things over BTAS!
    Continuity: They’re two very different shows. BTAS goes with an episode-by-episode format, however TSSM develops over time. It’s a lot of preference, but I prefer the continuity because it allows you to watch characters like Electro and Liz evolve over time, so that we can see long-term reactions and effects. With BTAS, there were several cases, like with Mad Hatter and Two-Face (he never really returned until Second Chance as far as I’m concerned), where great development was lost due to this lack of continuity. Sometimes, it even contradicted itself – Joker has now lead two past lives, one as a gangster (Mask of the Phantasm), and one as a comedian (his final episode – I forget the name). TSSM, on the other hand, is usually quite consistent with its characters.
    Relatability: Face it – you don’t really know what if feels to run around at night wearing a cape and cowl and fighting criminals. TSSM incorporates Peter Parker leading a regular life alongside his Spider-Man one, and thus retrieves a far greater level of relatability. They’re two completely different heroes – opposites, in fact – Bruce Wayne has truly become Batman, while Spider-Man still maintains his Peter Parker persona as the dominant one.
    Humor: It’s not that big a deal, but it’s still true.
    Action: Again, it means barely anything, but TSSM has had way better fight scenes than BTAS.
    Animation: Okay, this really means next to nothing, but I still definitely prefer TSSM’s great, fluid animation to BTAS’ still great, but not as great animation.
    Don’t get me wrong – I love BTAS a lot and it’s probably my second-favorite show now, but TSSM has a lot over it, and that’s not just the bias talking.

    Seriously though, here’s my official (objective) stance on this debate:
    It all comes down to preference.
    Both shows are at the same level as writing. Remember, writing is extremely subjective, and the only way to truly judge it is by well the show or movie or book or whatever accomplishes it’s goal. You can’t favor one format over another writing-wise because the first rule of writing is that there are no rules! As someone previously mentioned, Spider-Man just works better as a continuous series, and Batman may work better as an episodic one.
    In the end, here’s what it comes down to:
    BTAS has a dark tone, tragedy, and an episodic format.
    TSSM has a light tone, relatablity, and a continuous format.
    Take your pick.
    Personally, I prefer relatability and a continuous format (though I have no preference over dark/light tones), so I’m going for TSSM.
    That’s all there is to it.

  25. #25 Pelfo says:

    hey wellness your a liberal moron!!!! the art style is jap ,the artist are probably that as well….how does that make me a racist your kind are so damn stupid these days.You love Obama and all his bull shit. this will be my last post because i’m sick of liberal fucking morons like you! this country has gone to hell in a hand basket because of liberal democrates like you! when the muslims come to put a sword to your throat,thank your boy Obama!!!!!!!!

  26. #26 fantasyfreak says:

    @ Pelfos last comment: you need to chill man. seriously shut up, there is no need to make this into a political debate, when it has nothing to do with that…

    And, from what I´ve heard so far, this show seems to be pretty good story-wise, but I still can´t get over the weird character designs. They do not look like they are supposed to…Many of you may disagree with me, but that´s how I feel, and everyones entitled to their own opinion right? I´m not sure if I should pick this series up, but I suppose I might as well, maybe the series will grow on me like some other Marvel productions…And I kinda liked the the 90´s series, because of it´s amazing animation and character designs(say what you want about it, but it had pretty kick-ass animation for it´s time). And I also liked the MTV-show…not because of the animation or the characterization(cause we all know those could have been made a hundred times better), but because of the awesome action-scenes…

    well well, that finishes my ranting, I´ll leave you to what you were doing(that being tearing each other to shreds over which animated tv-show is better, which is kind of pathetic)

  27. #27 fantasyfreak says:

    Oh I forgot one thing Pelfo, the animation studio is korean you jackass, so stop pretending to be a cranky know-it-all because you´re not…I recognize asian names when I se them, and that is not japanese….what many people don´t know, are that cartoons that are being aired in USA(and anime in Japan for that matter) today some times is produced in South-Korea, because it´s cheaper than doing it at home( that doesn´t mean the shows produced are korean though, the creators and original artists are still american, respetively japanese).

  28. #28 Donomark says:

    Wow. What an excellent review. Thanks for taking it up a notch, Donovan! Chazz007

  29. #29 brenna o'donnell says:

    I think that spider man is the coolest super hero i have heard of no afence batman,superman and others

    from your friendly neibourhood spiderman!