Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ripped from KFR - The Spectacular Spider-Man: A Fast-Forward Review

Just in case you’ve been away from KFR for the past week, the latest animated incarnation of Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, hit the cable/satellite waves last Saturday. Rather than go through a rather lengthy traditional review of both shows, I’m only going to hit upon the good and bad things from the first two episodes.
The Good:
  • No tired attempt at an origin rehash (At this point, everyone on the planet should know how Peter Parker became Spidey; glad that the creators didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Although, there’s probably gonna be an origin episode in Season Three but I’m crossing my fingers here.)
    Peter Parker is a short geeky teenager again (As One More Day in the comics proved, the only good Spider-Man is one where Peter Parker has angst; not one where he’s over 6’2”, handsome, married to a world-famous supermodel and an accomplished scientist. Call it the Honeycutt rule – BJ with no mustache = funny; BJ with mustache = not funny.)
  • Good restraint in not going overboard with the redesigning of the villains (Aside from Electro looking more like The Batman’s Mr. Freeze than the excellent original, the slight redesigns of both the Vulture and The Enforcers looked different enough from its comic version but not so much that they became Marvel 2099. Surprisingly good.)
  • Great use of plot touchstones to tie episodes together (Rather than introduce the villains in the episodes that they appear in, the method of using the characters in their pre-villain form such as Doc Ock, Sandman, Venom, Green Goblin and the Lizard give the appearance of some form of continuity and give the older fanboys cause to smile when seeing them on screen)
  • Good integration of 3-D and traditional 2-D animation (The “vine swinging” city scenes looked good and showed how far the rendering and integrating of 3-D animation has come since the late 90s. If anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about, go rent the Batman/Mr. Freeze Direct-to-Video movie to see what I mean.)

The Bad:

  • Terrible use of stereotypes in lead female characters (While the redesign of Spidey’s villains was seemingly restrained in most cases, the same could not be said for the female characters in the first two episodes. Gwen Stacy is a typical girl nerd while Liz Allen is some sort of non-descript ethic airhead cheerleader. Not cool.)
  • Eddie Brock as a Lab Rat and Parker’s friend (Again, what the…? I like my Eddie Brock dumb and jealous of Petey; not being his bud and helping him get his foot in with Dr. Connor’s at ESU. Not liking how this will play out.)
  • Art was so-so (This is nitpicking but the art for the series has that Matsuda/the Batman feel to it, which is grating to some people and not so much to others. I’m not asking for Hanna Barbera or Filmation-style artwork but a change in style from the previous superhero series would’ve been nice.)
  • Not enough JJJ (How can you have the nemesis for both Parker and Spidey on screen for less than a couple of minutes? J. Jonah Jameson is both comic foil and antagonist who needs to be there to hate Spidey and to work Parker to death. Can’t be stated enough –More JJJ!)
  • Spidey-verse may be too small (another nitpick but how can The Goblin, Doc Ock, and the Vulture work for Osborn Industries and Electro, Venom and The Lizard work for the same lab at ESU? Just seems too forced for my tastes but then again, I’m not ht target audience for the show.)

Overall, the two episodes were fun and made for a great start to the series. If you missed it last week, this week’s installment has the Lizard’s series debut so you better get on board, pal.

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