Note: portions of this review originally appeared in March, 2009.
It’s an absolute travesty that The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series has been canceled in favor of an Ultimate spider-Man reboot.
Remember when we, as fans, compared the live action 90’s Batman movies to the Batman animated series, and the movie, Mask of the Phantasm, and found out they were far inferior? How the movies seemed to scrap the essence of the character, but the animation perfectly captured everything we love about the character and still bring us something we’d never seen before? It’s hard to do that with a character as old as Batman, and just as hard with a character a little younger, like Spider-Man. I loved Marvel’s reboot of Spidey in the Ultimate Spider-Man comic when it first started, but I lost interest real quick. I don’t know what it was missing…but it was just missing something. To this day, I still haven’t been able to get back into it, even with it’s manga-styled relaunch.
The Spider-Man movies, and I know many will disagree with me, are sorely lacking. Even though I loved Spider-Man 2, I can’t go on record saying that it’s the perfect Spider-Man movie (mostly due to the casting). However, what I will say is that, even though Spider-Man has been blessed with some pretty decent animated interpretations over the years, the absolute best is Spectacular Spider-Man.
The show borrows from different aspects of the comic books, while still bringing something wholly unique to the mythos. Gwen Stacy is still around, everyone is still in high school, Spidey’s been around a little over a year by the time the show starts. The first season was a lot of fun, had some fantastic animation, fun fight scenes, and good writing. Of course, one of the head honchos behind the show is Greg Weisman, who impressed us all with Disney’s Gargoyles show way back when.
Season Two of Spectacular Spider-Man, sadly, ended up being its last. I can honestly say that it’s the absolute best media interpretation of the character I’ve EVER seen. The last couple of episodes of the series actually had me in suspense, which is a tall order for a cartoon. There are heartbreaking moments, great character development (in a cartoon!), and some amazing set pieces that you’d never see in a live action film. I hate to spoil too much for you, if you haven’t seen it, so I’ll try to just hint at some of the things you’ll see – Tombstone, The Sinister Six, Kraven, The Molten Man, love triangles a-plenty, a Green Goblin twist you won’t see coming…the animated version of the Goblin storyline far surpassed anything done in the live action movies.
If you haven’t seen any of Spectacular before, you can actually pick up the series pretty affordably. Make sure you do . You won’t be disappointed!