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Spectacular Indeed: Looking at The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series

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Perhaps the brass at Sony should have used the title Amazing Spider-Man for this series instead of its rebooted film franchise. This is what we fans call “respect for the source material.” The Spectacular Spider-Man I feel is without question the best interpretation of the character, which includes the films. And perhaps it could have been the best superhero adaptation ever if it had been given a chance to finish it’s run.

I grew up with the 1994 Spider-Man series which seemed styled after the X-Men cartoon of the same era. I enjoyed it then and I still enjoy it now. It had everything you could want from a show about the wall-crawler: great action, tons of stories to cover, huge selection of villains and side characters. It was a great show and I take nothing away from it.

This show is better.

Plain and simple. At least that’s how I feel. This show only lasted 2 seasons for a total of 26 episodes and the show runners give comic fans everything they would want.

Now to begin, I did not watch the show regularly when it was on the air. I would catch a episode here and there, and each time I would watch more of it, I never noticed I didn’t dislike a single episode. After I heard that the show got cancelled I wasn’t really upset, since I had never invested much into it. About a year or so ago the show was on Netflix, so I decided to revisit it. I only watched about 10 episodes before I got sidetracked and it was eventually pulled. I did see however, enough to noticed the things about this show that make it truly special.

The first thing I noticed was it’s art style, which is very cartoony and easily digestible for children. So I dismissed it as a more kid-focused program. Please do not let that be the reason you refuse to check this out. It has a simple look, but when you see the level of action that is in this cartoon, you forget how it looks. The dialed back design allows for far greater detail in the shows other elements. I don’t like to guarantee things that are subjective, but I feel confident that once you watch it, you’ll never think about the look of it again. The look may be for kids but we adults have something much deeper to look at. Think of it like the Pixar films, kids love the way it looks, but adults get the story, themes and context.

Another aspect of this show that is Amazing (pun intended) is the world that Peter Parker inhabits. Now that superhero movie is now the standard in Hollywood and not a niche market, we get usually 1 of 2 types of entries, we either get action galore, or we get overly introspective/dark and gritty. In this show, you have a legit comic book universe and all the elements in it are balanced perfectly. Fun when it needs, serious when it needs. Spidey’s enemies are not totally defeated and they are not crammed in for the sake of it. Funny how they do the Sinister Six perfect in this series and I wonder how this future movie will work.

One last thing that I felt this show did so much better than the movies, and that is high school. The films never spent much time with Peter in high school as the comics did. They didn’t play up the relationships that Peter has with his fellow students. Now of course this is tv so it allows for that but other than The Amazing Spider-Man we really don’t spend time in the halls. We see his friendship with Harry Osborn, his indecision about his feelings for Gwen Stacy, the somewhat automatic attraction he experiences with Mary Jane. So many stories that play out during this shows run. Then you have others like Flash Thompson and Liz Allan, who actually dates our hero while he is uncertain about who he cares for. And perhaps my favorite relationship, the connection between Peter and Eddie Brock. There is a connection there that was wasted in Spider-Man 3.

I know this has gone on pretty lengthy for such a short show, but I had to speak out on this fantastic comic book adaptation. It really is such a shame it is gone and could not take up on the plot threads it began to lay down for a 3rd season. If you have a Blu-Ray player and love the character of Spider-Man pleas do yourself a favor and get the complete series set. It will be well spent.

3 responses to “Spectacular Indeed: Looking at The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series”

  1. Can’t wait to catch up on this show. My kid loves it and I never really gave it a shot. I watched a couple of eps but I wasn’t that impressed but upon reading your post, I’m now very stoked for it. Thanks Eric!

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