Monday, 16 February 2009

Spider-Man Animated - My Thoughts: Part Three

The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008)

Finally, we come to the most recent Spider-Man animated series, and the only one still producing new episodes today, Greg Weisman's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'. Weisman is held in high regard by many animation fans due to his sterling work on the critically acclaimed 90's show 'Gargoyles'. The Spectacular Spider-Man promised to be a more faithfull adaptation than Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, and so far at least has lived up to this promise, with its opening one and a half series being among the greatest Spider-Man animation seen so far.

Peter Parker:
The Spectacular Spider-Man's character designs have come in for a lot of flak from many, mainly due to their simplicity in comparison to previous animations. However, once you get past the very detail light style the designs are fine, and Peter's is actually a massive improvement on his very dodgey Spider-Man: TAS appearance. This style also allowed the animation of the character to reach new heights. The voice acting and character of Peter are also both spot on, with Josh Keaton bringing just the right level of nerdy teenagerness to the role without becoming annoying, and the writers giving him the classic 'Parker Luck', without making him too morally questionable, as was occasionally the case in MTV Spider-Man.

The Supporting Cast:
Spectacular Spider-Man made some fairly significant changes to Peter's supporting cast, most notably the changes in ethnicity of certain characters (Liz Allen), and transforming Gwen Stacey from a beauty queen to a shy nerd. Although I would usually be primarily against changes made to the classic Spider-Man mythos (one of the things that ruined MTV Spider-Man for me) The changes here are done for genuine reasons, and mean that Spidey's supporting cast is much more well rounded and varied that in the comics. Kudos should also go to the writers for cramming in so many classic supporting cast members from the comics, many of which have never been animated before such as Frederick Foswell.

The Villains:
The Spectacular Spider-Man is similar to Spider-Man: TAS, in that it makes excellent use of Spidey's classic rogues. However, in a similar manner to its use of his supporting cast, many of their costumes and even secret identitys have been changed, something that some fans have taken issue with. Many of the villains costumes and backstories have also been updated for the modern age as well, for example the Vultures new black and red armour (inspired by MK: Spider-Man) and Electro's more sympathetic personality. Like the changes made to the supporting cast these changes have clearly been carefull though through, and add a lot to the characters. The villains are all given realistic motivations, and the designs, while being a mixed bag are a brave attempt to update Ditko's classic costumes, many of which have never been bettered. Arguably the finest, if not bravest attempt at adapting Spider-Man's rogues gallery for the small screen.

Although as yet only one and a half series have been aired, so far TSSM has a very strong narrative drive, with subplots introduced early on in the series still going strong, and new ones constantly being introduced. The narrative also does an excellent job of balancing out Peter's romantic life with his budding superhero career, with neither feeling neglected. There is also an end to the confusing episodic placements of MTV Spider-Man, with a clear sense of linear narrative. So far so good, but only time will tell.


Pros -
Good animation, wide range of characters from the comic books, excellent use of subplots and strong sense of narrative drive.

Cons - Character designs could often do with more detail, some changes made to characters unnecessary.


1 comment:

  1. Design of villains costumes have changed, but this shouldn't really be an issue (except for Ock's tentacles being Black instead of silver) since in the comics uniforms change for the characters