i love Spider-Man. i think you all know that. so when a new Spider-Man project is announced, i'm always cautiously optimistic. that, and i watch it like a hawk, finding out as much as i can about it.
well, there's a new Spider-Man project that just started last week. it's an animated series. Spectacular Spider-Man. it's on Kids WB on Saturday mornings, which means i download it later in the day and watch it off my computer (there's no way i'm waking up that early). it's had 3 episodes so far.
what was tough for me going in is that there was little-to-no information about this show leading up to its premiere. all i knew was the premise and the art style. oh, and i knew that a former producer of the Gargoyles cartoon was going to be on it.
the story focuses on a young Peter Parker about a year after getting his spider powers. he's entering his junior year of high school after just having the summer of his life playing Spider-Man. however, now he's got to balance school, Aunt May's bills, friends, and his life as Spider-Man. oh, and super villains are starting to show up on the scene. it's a great premise and a great starting point to a new series.
the art is similar to a lot of today's animated shows - shows such as The Batman, Kim Possible, and Teen Titans. it's a highly stylized, exaggerated style that looks to be influenced by anime - very different from the more realistic style of 90s cartoons. it can work in some instances, but in others it can be too cute, too cartoony. here, thankfully, it works.
so, knowing what i knew, i was excited. and the show didn't let me down. not one bit.
the main characters (so far) are Peter, Gwen Stacey, Harry Osborne, Eddie Brock, Flash Thompson, Liz Allen, J. Jonah Jamison, and Aunt May. the Connors may also play a pretty big role (as they were in the first 3 episodes) but Doc Connors was turned into the Lizard in the third episode, so they may go away for a while. here's my thoughts on some of the characters:
- Peter is perfect so far. the writer's really nailed the tone and the actor really portrays him pretty well. oh, and the quips Spidey whips out in battle are great.
- Gwen is Peter's close friend (along with Harry), but that's it. there was a hint in one of the episodes that she wants to be more than just friends, so i'm sure we'll see them hooking up later.
- Harry is being portrayed as sort of a wimp. the voice actor they got for him really gives Harry this wimpy quality. it's an interesting take on the character - usually he's handsome, charismatic, and pretty popular. not here.
- Eddie is Pete, Gwen, and Harry's older friend. he's a freshman in college. of course in the comics and movie Eddie is a photojournalist that doesn't meet Peter until they're older, but this portrayal of a younger Eddie meeting a younger Pete has been in a few of the latest Spider-Man projects (Ultimate Spider-Man for instance). i have no problem with it, as long as he becomes Venom like he should.
- Liz Allen. now, she's just a secondary character, but they did something to her that really bothers me. what did they do? they made her Latina, no doubt for the sake of political correctness. she's supposed to be a spoiled white girl. instead she's a street-talking Latina. sigh. oh well.
what's interesting to note is that they went with Gwen instead of Mary Jane. of course, in the comics Gwen came first, and was Peter's first love, but modern day audiences only know of Mary Jane (i mean they went with Mary Jane in the movies and demoted Gwen to a pretty crappy cameo in the third movie). it's an interesting choice, and i give them kudos for doing it, but i miss Mary Jane. what will probably happen is Gwen and Peter will hook up (or almost hook up) and THEN they'll introduce Mary Jane into the mix. i can't wait!
the first 3 episodes introduced us to The Vulture, Electro, The Lizard, and The Enforcers (with The Kingpin behind the scenes). they were all pretty good episodes in their own right, with only the Lizard one feeling a little weak. usually with The Lizard/Doc Connors, Peter reveals his identity and the 2 of them share the secret of who the other is. that didn't happen here. however, something else happened at the end of the episode that i was like "no way." suffice to say, it distanced Peter from his friends even more. it really showed how being Spider-Man conflicts with being Peter Parker. it was great.
one last thing to note - the battles are amazing. the animation is fluid and visceral. and Spider-Man gets the CRAP beat outta him. being a kids show i was worried they wouldn't show this aspect, but they do. one of my favorite things about Spider-Man is that he's pretty much a normal guy (with somewhat superhuman strength, sure) going against super villains that are usually stronger or have some advantage over Spidey at least. Spidey usually gets his ass handed to him before he can figure out how to beat the villain. it reinforces the "average Joe with not-so-average powers" thing i love so much.
in conclusion, you should check this series out. it's got 13 episodes in the can, and i believe 13 more are going to be ordered. i hope so at least. because it's a great series so far.