Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Spectacular Spider-Man

The Spectacular Spider-Man was a cartoon that originally aired for one season on the Kids WB in 2008! on the CW network. The second season aired of Disney XD in 2009. In total, 26 episodes were created.

The Spectacular Spider:Man: Season 1 Movie Poster
Spectacular really does describe this show.
There have been quite a few Spider-Man cartoons before this one but Spectacular Spider-Man breaks considerable new ground.

While it's not afraid to blaze new trails, this series is EXTREMELY reverent of the source material. Almost EVERY character seen or mentioned is directly from the comics. Some of the references only longtime fans would even notice. For example, in one sequence Captain Stacy yells out another cop, calling her "DeWolff." You barely even see the cop but you know it's Jean DeWolff, an old character from the comics. All of the villains are straight from the comics. Not only do they have the big names like Venom and Doctor Octopus but also some smaller time villains such as Molten Man and Silvermane.

The series has extremely tight continuity. In fact, this is the first cartoon I can think of that actually moves its main character through specific months of the year and references them during the show. The first episode happens in September and the first season concludes in November so you actually see Halloween at the appropriate time in October. The second season runs from December to March. Althought they can be watched individually, storylines, subplots and characters develop from episode to episdoe. I can really tell the creators had long-term plans for the series because sometimes a plot hook will start a dozen episodes before it pays off. 

Beyond that, the show has an overarching theme of "The Education of Peter Parker." Each storyarc is broken down by theme under that larger theme so there are small groups of three episodes with themes such as "Biology," "Engineering," or "Human Development." The show never directly references these themes but they're there if you watch for them.

The show's pace is quick and every episode seems to have a great balance between action and Peter Parker drama. At one point, Aunt May sets a curfew for Peter and he has to call her before 10:00 every night. 

The animation is great. Spider-Man moves very quickly (like he should) and the backgrounds are often given motion-blurs to show the speed at which he's moving. 

In general, the character designs are great. The villains all get redesigns from the comics that keep their essences while giving them are modern overhaul. The only bone I have to pick with the show is the basic character design for the faces. The eyes are large with blank pupils. It's a small pick but they just don't look right to me and it gives the series an overly "cartoony" feel (I know that's odd to say about a cartoon).

While I find it hard to say that this show is better than the 1990's Spider-Man cartoon I can't help but think that if this show had been on longer it would have surpassed that show in every way. It wasn't cancelled because of poor performance but rather as a result of the deal in which Disney purchased Marvel in 2009. 

1LR REVIEW - 18 out of 20! It's a Solid Hit!

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