Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cartoon Review: The Spectacular Spider-Man Ep. 1

With The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series now being shown on Disney XD and it being a while since I have seen the first season I thought it would be fun to review the episodes from the first season. I will be reviewing one episode a week until the premier of the second season were I will be reviewing the new episodes. Also I know that the second season has been shown over in Canada and other countries but I ask all of those who have seen the second season to please not be a dick about it and ruin it for the rest of us here at the states that have yet to seen the second season by giving spoilers about the new season. It is just not cool and we all want to enjoy the new episodes as they come. Thank you!

"Survival of the Fittest"

It may be because Spider-man is one of the few characters in comics that allows a writer have a light or dark tone, many times both, to the stories but I have always found that with every new Spider-Man cartoon it is a rule that the opening theme songs has to be catchy. Even though Batman, X-Men, Superman and the JLA have had their own succesful cartoons none of them have had an opening theme that gets stuck in the viewers head. The only other cartoon that has had a catchy theme song was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon from the 80s/90s. For some reason I have always found myself humming the opening theme song of the Spider-Man cartoons, especially the one for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and the opening theme of The Spectacular Spider is no different.

Weisman, Cook, and the rest of the crew on this show seem to have mix a lot of the different Spider-Man continuities together to make this show. Though this show looks to be heavily be influenced by the Lee/Ditko/Romita Sr. era Weisman and crew also seem to take some of the elements from Ultimate Spider-Man and the Spider-Man films by having many of the characters that Peter didn't meet until college like Gwen and Harry actually be his childhood friends. Maybe the biggest change is to Gwen since she is portrayed as more of a science nerd, a little similar to Ultimate MJ, that is more of Peter's intellectual equal, far removed from the beauty queen look she had in the comics. And just like with Wolverine and the X-Men it is a good move by the creator's of this show that they start with Peter already being Spider-Man for already a few months now since most, if not all, those who will watch this show will know Peter's origin already from either the comics, movies, and previous cartoons.

What else is interesting from this first episode is just the magnitude of characters from Spider-Man's history appear in this episode alone. We get most of Peter's supporting cast in Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, Liz Allen, Flash Thompson, Kong (created in USM), Randy Robbinson, Sally Avril (alterego of the hero Bluebird), J Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle staff. Then we are also introduced to a lot of many of Spider-Man's rogue galleries persona's before they are turned into villains: Norman Osborn, Doc Ock, Flint Marko, Eddie Brock (who is more similar to his USM version), and Dr. Connors. That is a lot of characters in one single episode, and may have missed a few, and the only real major character we do not see in this episode is MJ. On the villains side it is interesting to see how all of these characters we know are big Spider-Man villains are before they become part of Spider-Man's Rogue's Gallery.

Now just like many Spider-Man fans I was taken aback by the simplistic character designs this series had and quickly questioned how good this series would be. But after seeing this first episode I realize that the creators of this show decided to make the designs simple in order to put all their budget, which is always low for a cartoon, to the fight sequences. And from the looks of it they made a wise choice as all the fight scenes have are fast paced with a lot of energy that you would expect from a fight involving Spider-Man and his foes. Just like the early Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Man and and Brian Bendis/Mark Bagley Ultimate Spider-Man it makes more sense that a teenage Peter Parker would focus more on the speed and agility in conjunction with his Spider-Sense than using just relying on raw power. It is what made Spider-Man's fight with the Enforcers and Vulture that much more fun to watch.

Overall this was a good start for a show and I like that the creators of the show are using each episode to build on the over-arching story of the show similar to the 90s series. And though this show is aimed at kids it has plenty of action and character work that long time Spider-Man fans will also love.

Episode Rating - 8.4/10


Darkness U.S.A said...

I was not bothered by the new look or some of the continuity differences, like venom showing up early and Eddie Brock being his friend. It is a real downer that we have to wait so long in the USA to see new episodes

Kevin said...

@Darkness U.S.A: Agreed. Can't wait till the second season airs