Ultimate Spider-Man Season 1, Episode 1 “Great Power” Review


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     Peter Parker, average teenager, is secretly (GASP!) Spider-Man. Yet, this is not good enough. Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., will train him to become the ULTIMATE Spider-Man. Buckle up, let’s see how this goes.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN Season One, Episode One
“Great Power”
Written By: Paul Dini


So it begins. *Deep Breaths* Okay, this is my first review. You guys ready? Me, too. Let’s do this.

 

 THE STORY: Spider-Man, after being yelled at by a broadcast of “100-Foot-Tall Cranky-Pants” J. Jonah Jameson, encounters the eternally-awesome villain, “The Trapster”! After a quick fight, the Helicarrier drops to the street. Samuel L. Jac… I mean… Nick Fury tells Spidey how terrible a display of super-heroics this was. Nick calls our hero a “rookie” and says he wants S.H.I.E.L.D. to train Spidey to become the “Ultimate Spider-Man”. Uninterested, Spidey swings away. Norman Osborn is shown planning something creepy, and we move to Midtown High. Peter Parker, average teenager, introduces us to MJ, Harry, and the very annoying Flash Thompson. Very soon afterwards, the Frightful Four (minus the Trapster) break into the cafeteria, with the knowledge that Spidey attends Midtown. Peter starts a food fight, changes into Spider-Man, and a battle begins. Spidey takes on the evil trio, Harry is hurt, and Spider-Man tricks Flash into getting trapped in a locker. Okay. Harry is hospitalized, and we see that this version of Aunt May keeps herself busy. Peter comes to the conclusion that he is actually a rookie, and decides to take Nick Fury up on his very generous offer.

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THOUGHTS: Oh, boy. Okay, let me start by giving you a bit of information about myself. I promise, I’ll do this quick. I’m fourteen, a freshman in high school. I have been a Spider-Man fan for as far back as my memory goes, and before you dismiss me as a newbie, let me tell you this. I’ve read a huge chunk of Spider-Man’s history, and I absolutely love it. Although, everyone has a starter comic, and mine was the original Ultimate Spider-Man, all those years ago. Yes, I’m one of those guys. Quickly, I went over to the mainstream (or 616, if you like) continuity, but Ultimate Spidey was my start. So naturally, I was very excited when this show was announced. Did it live up to the excitement?

 

Yes and no. Mostly no. This was not a terrible first episode, really. It’s the rest of the show that bothers me, but I’ll get to that later. Overall, this episode, despite the breakneck pace, was entertaining. This episode, and the rest of the show, is very comedy-centered, rather than being focused on story and character. This is a large change from the previous series, Spectacular Spider-Man, though not necessarily a change for the worse. The constant humor really makes this series feel like it’s for a younger audience, but that’s okay. Some of the jokes landed, some didn’t quite fit. The pace is ridiculous. Just ridiculous. I felt like my head hurt a little at the end, but that’s fine because it gets much worse in later episodes. The Frightful Four were rather lame, but if they were more serious and intimidating, it wouldn’t really fit where the episode was going. One thing that is just GREAT about this show is the animation quality. The show just looks great. The thing that really gets to me about this is that it honestly just doesn’t feel like Spider-Man. To elaborate, I’m going to quickly look at each character.

 

Spider-Man mostly feels like he should. Peter Parker feels very off. Spidey is funny like he should be, he’s a bit of a jerk to his villains, that’s just how he is. It’s when they try to make you understand he’s a rookie that he feels out of character. Peter is at a genius-level intellect, and yet Spider-Man comes across as somewhat of an idiot. Again, this gets worse in later episodes. Peter feels VERY out of character to me. He is very average, most likely to make him seem more relatable, but it comes across wrong. The constant breaking of the fourth wall is just so unnecessary. It’s so hard to take a scene seriously when Spidey turns to the audience and is like, “Are you guys seeing this?! This is insane, right?! Teenagers don’t deal with this stuff!”. I wish they could just stick to Peter’s narration.
Mary Jane is not in any way the MJ I know, nor the Ultimate MJ I know. I do not understand the journalist thing. A counter-point would be, “Well, Ethan, MJ wanted to be a TV journalist in the USM comic series” but I disagree. This is not the same. She desires a journalist position at the Daily Bugle, and the way the dialogue goes, she sounds exactly like a teenage Lois Lane.

Harry is fine here. He’s similar enough to Ultimate Harry, just with less character.

Norman Osborn is introduced in a very interesting way here. (We’ll see how that goes.)

Flash is so annoying.

Aunt May is… younger and more active than any version of Aunt May I have ever seen, to the point that she seems like, without the white hair, she could be Peter’s 35-year-old mother. Oy.

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Finally, I want to talk about the voice acting. The opinion has largely been that Drake Bell talks quickly and loudly because he’s trying to sound younger. That’s probably true, but I feel like he’s REALLY trying to keep Spidey sounding fun, and upbeat, which he does overdo a bit. One thing thing that bothers me (sorry, I can’t help it, I’m a nitpicker) is that when Peter puts on the mask, he’s essentially becoming a different part of himself. He’s more confident, he’s braver, he has a huge sense of humor. As Peter, though, he’s softspoken, he’s shy, and very separate from the world. Whether it’s the script or the voice acting, Peter feels the exact same as Spider-Man. He’s confident and joking all the time, so the change between Peter and his alter ego really just seems like a change in appearance.

PROS: Humor was good for the most part, animation quality is excellent.
CONS: Fourth wall breaking, the Trapster, poor characterization, breakneck pacing.

GRADE: 3 out of 5 Drake Bells. This is not a terrible start for the show, though it’s not a great one. Thanks for reading! Please comment, it will make me feel good!

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(14) Comments

  1. Symbiotic_€vO

    If only there could be a series with the visual appeal of this one but with the story from spectacular, that will be the perfect show. I was reluctant to see spectacular because it looks just to wrong, but once i give it a try I was very surprised and pleased, i mean th amount of easter eggs make my head spin in a very pleasent way but the animation some times just kill all the vibe (the extra cartoonie green goblin) but then i started to see images from this one and i got very excited, but watching a full episode is just painful, they should have done a deadpool animation for wath its worth. Big desapinting i mean DC hit the ball out of the park with Yung Justice, its posible to do a great story with beitiful animation

  2. fantasyfreak

    With risk of sounding repetitive(too late for that :D) very well written review. Personally I think I am one of the few who kind of liked the fourth wall breaking *gets wrotten tomatoes thrown at me* .Looking forward to more reviews Ethan! :)

  3. Ethan Smith - Post author

    As of now, I think I'll continue Season One before going further. If Brad wants me to review the current season as well, I will, but I think the order of the reviews may quickly get confusing. Thank you for the kind words!

  4. hornacek

    This was a great review. I don't agree with all of it, but it was very well written and backed up. Looking forward to future reviews. I know this show is not targeted towards the "average" Spider-Man reader, but right now, this and the daily newspaper strip are all I have left of new adventures of the real Spider-Man, so I'll keep watching. And I always thought this site should be reviewing it so I'm glad they found someone. Ethan, how often will you be reviewing episodes? Just wondering if you'll continue with season 1 before moving onto season 2 or will you be reviewing season 2 episodes as soon as they are released (i.e. today)?

  5. Alex

    Nice job Ethan. That was a solid review. It's interesting to hear the views of someone who's just above the target age this show is aimed at and see what they think of it. Keep up the good work.

  6. Danno

    Great review of this show! You did an excellent job covering positives and negatives about the episode. I would not have guessed that this was written by a fourteen year old! I look forward to more reviews from you!

  7. Rant

    I don't have Disney XD, and all online opinions of this show have been unfavorable. To be fair, Spectacular Spider-Man is a hard act to follow, but with this being an actual Marvel show, filled with insight from the comic writers, I expected to hear praise, not internet spanning moans. This is the 1st in depth review I have seen, and kudos to you Ethan for that alone. I'd be remiss to not applaud how articulate you are for someone of your age. Your writing really painted a clear mental picture of what's what. As much as I love my Spidey fix, I don't feel like i'm missing much by not seeing this show. Until Disney just cries Uncle and gets this show off the air and tries a new take on our pal, Pete, I'll just stick to my Spectacular DVDs. Ethan, welcome. Yours will now be one of the reviews i keep an eye out for.

  8. marcus

    Welcome Ethan, as disappointed as I am about this show, I am glad to have you on board. Great Review!

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