REVIEW: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN – SEASON 1-2

CAST (VOICES)

Josh Keaton (Green Lantern:TAS)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Grey Delisle (The Replacements)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars Rebels)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters 2)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Alan Rachins (LA Law)
Kath soucie (Rugrats)
Crispin Freeman (Digimon)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Elisa Gabrielli (Mulan)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Courtney B. Vance (Flashforward)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Nikki Cox (Las Vegas)

It would be hard to argue that any comic book superhero has enjoyed a more sustained popularity over the last five decades than Spider-Man. The Marvel Comics character, the mainstay of that company’s flagship publication The Amazing Spider-Man, has been spun off  into numerous other venues, from cartoon and live action television shows to a rock album, a series of wildly popular theatrical movies, and even a recurring part in the old PBS series The Electric Company.

The Spectacular Spider-Man is a current incarnation of this comics legend that takes its name from a now-defunct spin-off comic book title. It’s a half-hour cartoon series, aimed primarily at kids but with some postmodern nods to adults, and basically offers an early 21st century update of the original Spider-Man comic books. Here, Peter Parker (voiced by Josh Keaton) attends high school with Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacey. Bully Flash Thompson is also around, and Parker’s future wife Mary Jane Watson transfers to his school midway in the series. Parker lives at home with his Aunt May, and moonlights as the crimefighting Spider-Man whenever he can. As he battles colorful super-villains, he’s taking snapshots of himself for the newspaper Daily Bugle. Several of the classic characters from that fictional periodical are here, including Betty Brant and the obnoxious J. Jonah Jameson (voiced hilariously by Daran Norris).spidey_wp-01

The series is light and fun, with a nice sense of humor. As such, it captures the essence of Spider-Man fairly well. Each episode is relatively self-contained, although certain plot points connect the episodes into a larger whole. The animation strikes me as bright and colorful – and certainly competent for a weekly television program. The characters are presented with some awkward angularity at times, but at least it’s consistent and uniform in presentation. As an old comics fan, I enjoyed this updating of the Spider-Man mythos, and I certainly imagine that it will entertain its core audience: adolescents.ranking-the-spider-man-animated-series_cgbj

In season 2 Peter Parker’s life becomes significantly more complicated as he finds himself torn between Gwen Stacy and Liz Allan, both of whom have confessed their feelings for him; he eventually chooses Liz. Norman Osborn takes on the role of Peter’s mentor, pulling strings to re-establish his job as Dr. Connors’ lab assistant, as well as overseeing the installment of the conniving Dr. Miles Warren into the ESU Labs. Meanwhile, as Spider-Man, Peter encounters new villains Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter, leading him to investigate the activities of a mysterious new crime lord known as the “Master Planner”.fe109-spiderman-animatedWhen the Master Planner’s first scheme fails, Spider-Man is faced with a three-way gang war between the Planner’s super-villain forces, the Big Man’s established order, and the old guard of Silvio “Silvermane” Manfredi’s family. Peter’s search for Eddie Brock also leads to the return of Venom, who attempts to expose Spider-Man’s secret identity and remove his powers. Finally, when the three major crime lords are arrested, Spider-Man once again goes up against the Green Goblin, who is once again bent on eliminating the wall-crawler once and for all.

ranking-the-spider-man-animated-series_cgbjOther new characters introduced in the second season include Calypso, Sha Shan Nguyen, Silver Sable, Roderick Kingsley and Molten Man. Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason return as Mysterio and the Tinkerer respectively.fe109-spiderman-animatedIt appears that the episodes in this eighth volume of The Spectacular Spider-Man are the swan song of the series. That’s a shame as this was a fun and energetic cartoon take on the classic Marvel superhero. Based upon content, The show was cancelled to make way for the Ultimate Spider-man cartoon which as we all know is just a train wreck.spidey_wp-01

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN: REINFORCEMENT

Image result for spectacular spider man
CAST
Josh Keaton (Superman/Shazam)
Thom Adcox-Hernandez (Under Siege 2)
Xander Berkeley (Beware The Batman)
Steve Blum (The Boxtrolls)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Robert Englund (The Batman)
Crispin Freeman (Fast Sofa)
Elisa Gabrielli (South Park)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars Rebels)
This show does not mess around when it comes to using any and all characters from Spider-Man’s history!  I was very impressed and excited to see fairly obscure criminal underworld characters Blackie Gaxton and Patch appear in this episode.  This episode featured the return of the Sinister Six, albeit in a new configuration, with Mysterio and Kraven standing in for Doctor Octopus and Shocker. With that many villains, it’s not surprising that this was an episode with a ton of action, as it quickly turned into one prolonged chase/fight scene for Spider-Man.I loved how this fight moved from one environment to another, traveling to some very different places, from an ice skating rink to a pier, to a department store. Once again, this show proved to be one of the best on TV when it comes to action scenes, with a ton of visually exciting moments that sometimes are so quick, they beg you to rewind the DVR. Such a moment occurred when Spider-Man jumped to avoid a bunch of hurled tires while fighting Electro – and while he dodged some, he actually contorted himself right through the center of one, in a blink and you miss it moment. This was an episode that really reinforced Spider-Man as a clever and creative sparring partner for any of the villains he takes on. Whether it be using those aforementioned rubber tires to trap Electro, or goading Rhino onto ice not strong enough to hold him, or spraying perfume on the scent-sensitive Kraven, our wall-crawling hero was in top form here and it was incredibly fun to watch.
On a more bizarre but no less entertaining level, you also had the moment where Mysterio unleashed his mechanical bats at Spidey, and they could be heard squeaking stuff like, “Rematch! Rematch!”, clearly eager to get another shot at the guy who had beaten them two episodes ago.
Understandably, an episode this action-heavy was a little light on character moments, but the ones we got were solid. Peter’s already stuck debating between Liz and Gwen, so it was very funny when Mary Jane was trying to give him advice, only for him to begin daydreaming, thinking, “Would you look at her… She’s gorgeous!”