Can you believe it? I recently found out that there was another Spiderman cartoon series (1981-1982) from the old days. Basically it’s about Peter Parker struggling to balance his duties as a superhero and a photographer for the Daily Bugle, as well as taking care of his Aunt May.
Spiderman faces many villains, but not just his archenemies. He actually goes up against other Marvel villains also. Ones like Magneto, Dr. Doom, and the Red Skull. However, none of the other superheroes help Spiderman with these villains, with the exceptions of Captain America and Sub-Mariner. Why weren’t the X-Men or the Fantastic 4 featured as well? It would’ve been nice to see any of them help out Spiderman once in a while.
The quality of this series is much like Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, which is my most favorite Spiderman series. At first I thought that this series came first and the other came later, but it turns out that both shows had premiered at the same time. Dude, if I had known about this Spiderman series back when it was new along with Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, it would’ve caused a lot of confusion about which show was which.
Don’t get me wrong though. This Spiderman series is certainly a good one. Spiderman’s comedic wit always leaves me laughing, especially when he drives J. Jonah Jameson crazy. This show also has interesting new revelations about Spiderman. Who’d have thought that he was allergic to reptiles and sabretooth tiger hair?
That’s right. Spiderman has been around for a long time, but for the first time ever the franchise came to MTV with Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003-2004).
This show takes place after the events of the first Spiderman movie (2002). It mainly focuses on Peter Parker (voice of Neil Patrick Harris), Mary Jane Watson (voice of Lisa Loeb), and Harry Osborn (voice of Ian Ziering) as a group of friends in college, but each with personal struggles.
Peter, of course, has a difficult time balancing his responsibilities with his double life as a superhero. Mary Jane focuses on making it as an actress and has mixed feelings about Peter. Harry craves revenge on Spiderman for what happened to his father and is the new head of his father’s company Oscorp.
The superhero action is awesome. When Spiderman web slings through the city, it’s very smooth and fast, especially while chasing criminals. Spiderman is also slick in combat with fast moves and witty remarks. He even changes in and out of costume quicker than ever before.
Peter is also clever to contain his schoolbooks and change of clothes within a web and hidden on walls and rooftops. Even when he’s late for class, he can respond to a question the teacher throws at him with ease. Unfortunately, it never gets Peter off the hook for being tardy, even though he was only out saving people and can’t tell anyone about it.
Peter is a photographer at The Daily Bugle, but his employer J. Jonah Jameson (voice of J.K. Simmons) is hardly featured on the series. Unlike other versions of Spiderman, the only times that Jameson is featured is at his office when Peter turns in his photos, which inspire Jameson with possible headlines about Spiderman as a menace to society. It’s bad enough that the police are always after Spiderman, even though he’s a hero.
Unfortunately, Peter can barely make a living at The Daily Bugle, so he sets his standards a little higher by occasionally providing news footage for the Empire One TV studio. That’s where Peter meets aspiring reporter Indy Daimonji, who also becomes his love interest, despite his feeling for Mary Jane. Although, Mary Jane only wanted to be friends with Peter, or does she.
What’s also different about this series is that most of the criminals Spiderman faces are not his archenemies, but some do make an appearance or two. The most common was Electro. He was once an unpopular teen named Max Dillon, who was always picked on. After a freak accident, he becomes an electric monster and the first thing on his agenda is to take revenge on his tormentors. Electro succeeds, but still remains a killer, even though all he ever wanted was to be accepted. I always wandered what Electro’s back-story was.
Other known villains that make appearances are Craven the bounty hunter, the Kingpin, and the Lizard Man. Of course, you can’t have a Spiderman series without a Lizard Man episode.
I enjoyed this series for its smooth action and MTV style of humor. In addition to conveniently having a camera handy, I thought it was great that Spiderman had a camcorder while on patrol to videotape himself talking. It’s too bad he only used it in the first episode. That would’ve added to the humor even more.
There have been many versions about Spiderman over the years. The first original cartoon series was Spider-Man – The ’67 Collection (1967-1970). We all know the story. Scientific minded teen Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and it gave him amazing powers like super strength, the ability to cling onto any surface, and web slinging.
As a superhero, Spiderman protects the streets of New York by fighting dangerous, but colorful super villains like Dr. Octopus, Scorpion, Rhino, Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, and the Green Goblin. What’s also neat is that Spiderman can turn his webbing into anything and he sure can swim.
The action level and story lines are kept simple with hardly any detail on the characters’ back stories, which was typical for superhero cartoons back in the day. I find this series more enjoyable that way.
Of course leading a double life is never easy. Although Spiderman is a hero, not everyone sees him that way, especially Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. He only sees Spiderman as a criminal and there are often times when Spiderman ends up framed for criminal activity while he goes up against the real villain. Other times Jameson thinks Spiderman is working with the villain(s). It seems like he’ll look for any excuse to get rid of Spiderman and expose him as a menace to society.
I couldn’t help but notice that whenever Jameson slams the door, his picture on the wall keeps tilting and is constantly focused upon. I wonder if that’s a sign meaning that even though Jameson is the head honcho, he’s not always right. Of course Jameson would never admit that. He’s too stubborn.
As Peter Parker, Spiderman works at The Daily Bugle as a photographer. It’s actually convenient that Peter can get his photos of the action even as the wall crawling hero. I can only imagine if Peter were a paparazzi with Spiderman’s powers.
No matter how much good Spiderman does, the only way to convince Jameson that he’s good is to show him the captured villain with a note saying, “Compliments of your friendly neighborhood Spiderman”.
Mary Jane Watson does not appear very often on this series. Peter’s love interest is his coworker Betty Brant, but after the first season, Peter is featured as a loser of love. I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
This was a good cartoon series with adventure and excitement. Spiderman is as smooth and witty as ever. One last item: At Universal Studios Islands of Adventure last year, I had a photo with Spiderman, which was made to look like a comic book cover. That was sure a unique experience.
Classic cartoons from the old days always had memorable theme songs, some of which could be found on soundtrack albums if there were any. In the mid 90s, there was a very rare mixture on an album called Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, which features the different theme songs in a more extended and updated manner and performed by “modern” bands and artists.
Some of those classic songs include the themes from Scooby-Doo Where Are You, Josie and the Pussycats, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Popeye, Hong Kong Phooey, and Spiderman (60s version). A different artist or band like Matthew Sweet, Liz Phair, The Ramones, The Butthole Surfers, Juliana Hatfield, and others perform them.
Not all of the tracks are theme songs though. There are also songs from different shows that were hits back in the day like Sugar Sugar from The Archie Show, Epp Opp Ork Ah-Ah from The Jetsons, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy from Ren and Stimpy, and Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine in from The Flintstones. All of which were only featured once in certain episodes. Does anyone still remember any of these songs?
There are even theme songs from shows I had never even heard of before like The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Groovie Ghoulies, Gigantor, and H.R. Pufnstuf. Luckily, the inside cover has information on each show, which made them more familiar to me and made me curious to see what these shows are like, if I can find them either on DVD, Netflix, or the Boomerang Channel.
Along with the info, there’s also a bit of commentary from the bands and artists about their take on these songs as well as their favorite cartoons growing up. It must be a real pleasure to participate in an album like this.
In addition to the album, there was also a straight-to-video feature about Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits. On a beautiful sunny day, Drew Barrymore and her friends have fun watching music videos from all of the different songs and provide their own cute and funny commentary. (It doesn’t include the theme from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids for some reason.)
To add to the fun, the group also gets a package that contains things like breakfast cereal, candy necklaces, and silly string in spray cans. That’s just the kind of stuff that represents innocent times. You won’t find a special like this on MTV and I have no doubt that only hardcore Drew Barrymore fans would remember it.
This album is unique with its modern twist on old favorites. Once I do find any of the old shows, after listening to this CD, I now observe the theme songs to see how they are different in comparison.