After Justice League Unlimited, I didn’t think I’d enjoy another comic book animated series again. Come to think of it, the only comic book animated TV series I really enjoyed were the 90’s X-Men series, Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men: Evolution, and Justice League Unlimited. So it came as a surprise when I watched the first season of The Spectacular Spider-Man and loved it.
The first couple of episodes felt like The Batman all over again. I hated that show. It was too anime-ish for me, and I have no love for anime. Call me a hater, but that’s the way it is. But the animation style grew on me as the series progressed.
By the middle of the season, I realized that it’s not the usual comic book animated TV series starring Spider-Man. Actually, it’s not the usual comic book animated TV series, period. Most of the characters, whether they’re Spider-friend or Spider-foe, are recurring characters. That means you get to see several developments in each of the characters and in the complex relationships between several of the main cast.
This series is probably the most faithful reincarnation of Spider-lore in TV and in movies. It also has the most faithful Peter Parker iteration I’ve seen. I don’t understand why he has to have a mole under his left eye, but other than that, I’d say he’s the Peter Parkeriest Peter Parker ever.
His large supporting cast is a big reason why this series should be considered the best Spider-Man series in TV history. From Peter’s iconic relationship with Aunt May to his legendary girl issues involving Gwen Stacy, Liz Allen, Betty Brant, the Black Cat, and Mary Jane Watson, from his long and tragic history with Eddie Brock to his fun and strange relationship with J. Jonah Jameson, great character moments make this show more than a typical Saturday morning action/adventure fare.
But that doesn’t mean that the show lacks action and adventure. There’s plenty of that, actually. And most of the action scenes were mind-blowingly awesome. Spider-Man’s flirtatious battle with the Black Cat was a hoot to watch, and Spidey’s throwdown with the Sinister Six was EPIC. I was a little bit let down with the Venom episode, though.
Aside from the rich tapestry of Spider-friends and Spider-foes, the show also features several nods to the Spider-Man comics and movies. I love how they introduced Mary Jane into the show. It was just like how she was introduced in the comics. You know, a few mentions of her name for a couple of episodes before she was finally revealed in full, complete with the legendary line “Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot.”
By the time the alien symbiote came into play, I already knew that I’ll be waiting for the show’s second season. I’m hoping it would be as spectacular, if not more, as the first 13 episodes.