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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: The Spectacular Spider-Man

We all know the story. Nerdy teenager Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive/genetically modified spider, which gives him superpowers. He first tries to use this powers for personal gain, but when his Uncle Ben gets killed by a mugger he initially let get away, Parker learns that with great power comes great responsibility, and thus, Spider-Man is born. Now, Peter Parker has to balance his personal life with his life as a hero, caring for his Aunt May and keeping up his relationships with his friends Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn. And don't even mention the supervillains that start showing up...

This sadly short lived cartoon rendering of the wall crawler's exploits is one of the best animated television series I've ever seen, up there with the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and Avatar: The Last Airbender.  The series was sadly cancelled after two seasons in the midst of Disney buying Marvel, and replaced with the goofy and over-the-top Ultimate Spider-Man.

The animation is simple but fluid, bringing the story to life in a way that is brilliant and vibrant. Animator Sean "Cheeks" Galloway really deserves props.

The show isn't just visually appealing, however. The story is masterfully structured, telling the tale of Spider-Man in a series of mini-arcs, covering various villains in a Monster of the Week format. The dialogue is clever and sharp, bolstered by the excellent voice acting. The character development is also something to behold, with even the villains getting it. The character relationships are beautifully interwoven, giving most of the characters some motivation and an arc. Also, the theme song is really, really catchy.

I'll be the first to admit though, the first season is better than the second season. The second season made use of framing devices a lot, and the series finale felt a little rushed. I also didn't think the love story between Peter, Liz Allen, Gwen, and Harry was well executed. As if that's not bad enough, the series ends with a sequel hook which doesn't look like it will ever be followed up on.

But whatever faults this series may have, it more than makes up for it by what it gets right. There's so much good that what little bad there is is negligible. My favorite episode was Season 1 Episode 12, "Intervention", which showcases Spider-Man's origin and acts as a sort of retrospect to the series so far. All in all, my endorsement of this show stands.

RATING: 9/10

Image courtesy of tvtropes.org