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Orphaned schoolboy Peter Parker lost even his uncle, leaving him with old, semi-helpless aunt May. Trough a messed-up experiment with spider DNA, he acquires super-powers. But he only uses them when masked in a flashy costume as Spider-man, a mysterious dashing hero who defeats all crooks. As Peter, his life is far humbler, moonlighting as photographer for the Bugle.Written by
A fresh and stylish introduction for new Spidey fans
"The Spectacular Spider-Man" is a good cartoon show for a new generation of Spider-Man fans. It's fast-paced and stylish (cartoony) and it aims to be hip with the youth of 2008. But it's still very true to the Spider-Man tradition, if updated to be fresh for modern viewers.
I grew up watching the 1990s "Spider-Man" cartoon, which seemed to be modeled after the comic books of the day. "Spectacular" has its own stylized designs for the classic Spidey characters. What's cool about "Spectacular" is that it focuses on the early days of the superhero, when Peter Parker is a geeky high schooler. It hearkens back to the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics, with Peter growing into his powers while struggling with teenage social drama. (Thanks to bullying jock Flash Thompson, snobby cheerleaders, strict curfews, and various secret identity complications.) Comic book mythology is tampered with, a little, allowing Parker to be high school buddies with brainy Gwen Stacy and rich boy Harry Osborn. (Eddie Brock is a recent graduate from Parker's city high school.)
"The Spectacular Spider-Man" highlights what is most attractive about the character, and that is that Spider-Man is a kid just like any of us. He has amazing abilities that every kid dreams of, but he still faces the kinds of problems we all face. Peter Parker's high school misadventures are what make Spider-Man unique.
This Spider-Man is young and energetic. He delights in swinging through the city and catching bad guys. His famous wisecracking sense of humor is intact, which is a lot of fun. Each episode is action-packed and full of humor, which should make this incarnation a hit amongst kids nowadays. Every kid watching will want to be Spidey.
As Peter Parker is getting used to his superpowers, we see his famous rogues gallery take shape. The world of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" is littered with the well-known characters of the comics, including friends, foes, and eventual villains. In the first episode alone, we meet Norman Osborn, Curt Connors, Eddie Brock, J. Jonah Jameson, The Enforcers (Hammerhead, Montana, Fancy Dan, Ox), Flint Marko, the man who will become the Vulture, and, yes, Otto Octavius. All of these colorful characters make the rounds in this very busy cartoon city. The show is just buzzing with comic book personalities.
The episodes of "Spectacular" make up a continuing story. The continuity established in the cartoon does not come from the original comics. It's self-contained and builds the mythology up episode by episode within its own world. Each episode plants the seeds for future story arcs, setting the series in motion.
This show is great for introducing new fans to the Spidey universe. Fans of the recent blockbuster movies shouldn't have a hard time following along. They'll recognize characters like J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle and Norman and Harry Osborn, but they'll get to see new aspects of the Spider-Man mythos. The show focuses on teenage Spidey and adds touches like the light-up Spider-Man signal on his belt (a nod to the early comics), the mechanical web-shooters, and the drawn-out introduction of Mary Jane Watson (another nod to the comics).
Personally, "The Spectacular Spider-Man" isn't quite to my tastes. It's clearly updated and styled to be hip with a younger generation. Not for me. As I said, I grew up with the 1990s cartoon and will always be partial to that. But if I had been born later or introduced to this show first, I might have been partial to this version. I still admire it for showing such respect for the characters and material, bringing modern viewers a fresh and exciting Spider-Man world that is true to the spirit of the comics. (I've been disappointed with other updated superhero cartoons.) "Spectacular" is a fine way to introduce today's kids to the wonders of everyone's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
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