I get really confused about how executives at animated studios look at a well made, incredibly detailed show like The Spectacular Spider-Man and decide it should be cancelled. Then they replaced it with the abortion that is Ultimate Spider-Man. That’s not fair, really, Ultimate is that bad, but it’s not even close to the quality of the show that proceeded it, yet it has twice (and counting) as many episodes.
They planned a third series yet it never began production. I wish I knew why. Perhaps it was the upcoming, at the time, The Avengers film. They wanted to push that franchise into everything Marvel was doing so Spectacular didn’t fit. Ultimate has SHEILD and Nick Fury and I guess they thought this would be more lucrative for them.
Whatever, we got what we got and it is great. Set while Peter Parker was in high school, Spectacular is one of the best interpretations of my favorite fictional character. There are been a lot of animated series based on Spidey over the years, all the way back to the 60’s. There have been good and bad and mediocre ones and this one is one of the best.
Peter Parker is a young guy with problems. He is a nerd, with few friends and a scientific mind that is far above his peers. Since he is not very athletic and too smart for his own good, Peter is awkward in social situations to say the least. The friends he does have, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn and Mary Jane Watson, are torn between their love of Peter and his odd behavior.
When he gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains super powers, he becomes Spider-Man after letting a burglar escape; a criminal that later kills his Uncle Ben. He learns that he must use his powers for good but this interferes with his burgeoning social life. He still gets picked on by the jerky Flash Thomson, even though Pete can now beat him down easily, in a fist fight or at any sport. The ironic thing about Flash is that he worships Spider-Man. If he only knew….
What is really great about the show is that it distills the common traits of all the versions we have seen of the character and makes them feel fresh again. The show feels authentic and real. Even without the cavalcade of awesome villains we see week after week, the show would still be a great drama about a high school student struggling with his personal life.
But of course the villains are amazing. Spidey has a great rogues gallery, including Venom, Doc Oct, Vulture, Mysterio, Shocker, The Lizard, etc. All of them make an appearance and it’s pretty fun to see. Too bad we didn’t get more.