The Spectacular Spider-man – Series One Overall Review

I’m going to be honest with you.  I had no hope at all for this series.  None.  I watched the trailer and the voice of Spider-man sounded… wrong.  He sounded like a punk kid instead of a nerdish kid.  He was… one of them.  The boy protagonist created to appeal to boys by being as obnoxious as possible.  No way was I going to suffer… one of them again.  Not after a childhood full of them.  Nuh, no way, not even for Spider-man.

I perked up a bit when I learned the under used Gwen Stacy was going to be in it.  In the history of Spider-man cartoons, Gwen has appeared exactly once, in the 90’s yawnfest.  Part of her problem is that she dies in the comic.  Dies big time.  Not something for the kiddies.

However, what interest I had drained away by the art.  It was, to my mind, gawd awful.  Not even Gwen was worth gawd awful art.  Especially if Spider-man/Peter Parker was going to be… one of them again.

Now obviously I watched the series, hence the review.  Why for did I finally cave in?

Robert Englund.  I am a major Robert Englund fan.  I’m not as obsessive about his films as I am about, say Vincent Price or Christopher Lee, but he is a draw.  Willy from V!  The whole reason I watched Nightmare on Elm Street.

More importantly, he was playing one of my favorite villains: The Vulture.  God I love the Vulture.  He has one of the worse powers out there.  All he does is fly.  How lame is that?  And yet his over all look is just great.  Plus the character – a crotchety old scientist – is a hoot.  Which might be a better term for another bird themed foe, but still…

The Vulture from "The Spectacular Spider-Man"
The Vulture from “The Spectacular Spider-man”

As Englund appears in the first episode of the season, I watched it… and was hooked.  I had to see the entire series.

This is what the 90’s series should have been like.  It’s not terribly faithful story-wise to the comics, but this is a petty little point, as The Spectacular Spider-Man is actually an amalgamation of several sources, including the movie series.  It also has a decent continuity running through it, giving a larger story without alienating the casual viewer, the way the 90’s series would often do.

Englund was, as usual, excellent, but I don’t think there’s a bad performance in the series.  Of special note, I think, is Peter MacNicol.  MacNicol is currently appearing in the crime show Numb3rs, but as Englund will always be Willy from V! for me, MacNicol’s will always be Galen from Dragonslayer.  Twenty years and that hasn’t changed.

While I like MacNicol’s well enough as an actor, I would have never put him in a role as a super villian let alone one of the big name Spider-Villians.  I would have been wrong.  He plays the dreaded Doctor Octopus in this and he’s fantastic.  If he isn’t the best actor that had the role, he’s in the top ten.

But let’s go back to my original beef with the series.  Is Peter Parker/Spider-man… one of them?

No.  Josh Keaton is singularly excellent in both sides of the character’s persona.  As Peter, he sounds proper nerdish and as Spider-man he sounds like Spider-man.  He’s not as good as Paul Soles, the original Peter Paker/Spider-man, but who is?  I might have mentioned that I’ve liked every actor I’ve seen in the role and Keaton continues that nicely.

All in all, the series is worth your attention.  It’s on the CW and is out on at least one DVD.  The next season starts March 2009 and I will be there this time.

Now if they can just not kill Gwen Stacy off, the series will be The Greatest Ever…


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