Apr 6th 2007 By: Shawn Mayo
Last time out, I listed all of the Batman cartoons produced over the years. This time, I take a look at Spider-Man cartoons - and there have been a few. Once again, doing extensive research into the subject (ten minutes this time instead of five at wiki.com) I came up with the following list:
- Spider-Man (1967)
- Spider-Woman (1979) (technically not a Spider-MAN cartoon but he did appear in episodes 1 and 7)
- Spider-Man (1981)
- Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (1981)
- Spider-Man (1995) - sometimes called Spider-Man:The Animated Series
- Spider-Man Unlimited (1999)
- Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)
While it wasn't the greatest looking cartoon ever made, the original from 1967 is probably best known for its famous (infamous?) theme song we all know and love. Even people who've never seen the show still know the words - "Spider-Man, Spider-Man. Does Whatever a Spider can..." Many well known parodies have been inspired by this song. This cartoon also holds some sentimental value for me since it was something I remember watching as a kid while visiting my grandparents and thus helping fuel my lifelong interest in all things comics.
After the original, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends may be the most fondly remembered among all of the shows. It featured Spider-Man, Iceman and a brand new character named Firestar. Apparently, the show originally wanted Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, but he was unavailable thanks to legal issues. Therefore, a female version was created with similar powers. Again, pretty low budget animation, and the stories were pretty hokey at times, but the show was a staple of my Saturday morning cartoon lineup. One thing I remember really enjoying about the show were the cameos by other heroes. This was the place to see other Marvel characters like Captain America, the X-Men and even the Sub-Mariner come to life on the small screen.
The 90's Spider-Man cartoon may be the closest in it's portrayal of the webslinger. The production budget appears bigger this time around and many of the stories were adapted directly from the comics. Unfortunately, I've only seen a few episodes here and there. Maybe one of these days I'll break down and buy the DVD's, although I think the DVD's have not been released per season, but rather packaged by arc or villain (for example Spider-Man:The Venom Saga).
I know nothing about the Spider-Man Unlimited series other than I seem to recall the character vaguely resembled Spider-Man 2099. Lastly, there was the Brian Michael Bendis produced series which ran for one season on MTV. The show was done completely in CGI, so it is perhaps the best looking of the Spidey cartoons. Personally, I enjoyed the show for what it was, but I didn't care for the way it portrayed members of his rogue's gallery. I thought it was better when it used original villains since I had no pre-conceived vision of how the character should look like or act.
Finally, it was announced last month that a new animated series starring the web-head will debut in 2008 as part of the Kids WB! block on the CW network. Based on the synopsis in the release, it sounds similar to Ultimate Spider-Man in that Spidey will be portrayed as a 16 year old kid. He'll have to deal with super villains and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager in high school with the proportionate strength of a spider. Sounds promising.
So, there you have it - a chronological listing and brief overview of Spider-Man cartoons through the years. After doing both Batman and Spider-Man, now I want find all of the cartoons based on Marvel and DC characters. Then again, why stop there - many cartoons out there were inspired by characters found in comics other than DC and Marvel. Somehow, I think compiling this list will take more than ten minutes at wiki.com