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Radio-active Spider-Man
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About the Show
Minor Spoilers
Character
Peter Parker.
We all had a particular cartoon that we fondly remember. I had a few favourites when I was growing up, like Digimon and Ben 10. There was always one particular cartoon that I enjoyed more than any other. It was a show that would become my favourite superhero. It's the world's favourite friendly-neighbourhood Spider-Man! Why do I like Spider-Man: The Animated Series so much? Well, lots of reasons...
Quote There are three main reasons why this series turned into a successful one. First is the actual animation. During the 90’s, this show looked awesome. The animation was nice and fluid, with New York being brought to life by CGI scenes, which really brought something different. All the characters look fantastic, with most looking like they have come straight from the original comics, with only slight tweaks to their designs. Spider-Man himself looked amazing back then, and this looks great now! Him swinging about New York really does the character justice.

The second reason is the voice acting. If you find the right people to play and bring to life fans favourite characters from the comics, that’s the majority of the work already done. Let’s not mess around here: the voice acting in Spider-Man: The Animated Series is brilliant. Highlights include Edward Asner as J. Jonah Jameson, Jennifer Hale as Black Cat/Felicia Hardy, Hank Azaria as Venom/Eddie Brock and Gregg Berger as Kraven the Hunter. They really bring life to the respective characters and fit the characters.

But let's not get sidetracked: Christopher Daniel Barnes does an absolutely fantastic job of voicing Spidey. In this show, he IS Spider-Man. Like Kevin Conroy as Batman, Barnes was the voice actor of choice for the character for many years. He really makes you a true believer that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are the same person underneath. Although sounding a little older, fans brought him back for the Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time video games, now that's popularity for you! It's no wonder that Christopher Daniel Barnes is my favourite voice actor of all time.
[Spider-Man 1994]Look at all those characters! You certainly can't complain about them being all boring and looking very similar can you?
The third reason is great stories and Villains, and this Spider-Man series has both of these. While comics have the advantage of quantity, with hundreds of issues to flesh out characters and make intriguing storylines and story-arcs, animated series only have a fraction of episodes to achieve the same feat.

To keep things fresh and exciting, many of Spider-Man’s villains are introduced throughout the course of the five seasons of the show’s original run. Spider-Man (and Batman) are known for having one of the most varied collection of villains, which works in the shows favour. Over 25 villains make an appearance including fan favourites such as Venom, The Lizard, Doctor Octopus, The Green Goblin and other villains such as The Chameleon, The Hobgoblin, Shocker, The Vulture and many other well-known foes. (With the only notable exclusion of Sandman)

While we do get to know the villains and follow their evil plans, it was always when they came face to face with Spidey that things get interesting. One common misconception is at the time, censorship issues prevented Spider-Man doing certain things. It turns out the show’s creator has since stated that this is not the case at all and it was a creative decision. Did it work?

Yes it certainly did. Spider-Man rarely used his fists to fight his foes, this led to a lot more variety and kept things from repeating themselves from episode to episode. Just like the original comics, all the villains have varying abilities and special powers, which Peter Parker studies in battle using his scientific mind to find their weaknesses, if he has any hope of forming a plan and stopping them.

Thanks to his Spider-Man abilities and quick thinking, he usually wins against his enemies, most of whom are stronger and sometimes quicker. One aspect that has been lacking in the Spider-Man movies (until Civil War that is) is Spider-Man’s quips during battle. His remarks and dialogue towards the villains he encounters is always fun and exactly in-line with the comics. He rarely takes his foes seriously. Just listen to some of the lines he comes out with!

While in most episodes Spider-Man encounters just one villain, some episodes have him battling multiple villains. That is mainly because of Kingpin. The crime-lord who is head of most of the organised crime around the world, he is responsible for most of the problems that Spider-Man faces. (Including creating most of the villains) He always operates in the background, and it would be a long time until Spider-Man learns of Kingpin's identity. Will he stop him?


Closing Thoughts
Very Good Very Good
Spider-Man saves the day! Again and again. The show has excellent stories, dialogue, villains, and that awesome theme tune written by the guitarist of Aerosmith, its got everything. Spider-Man: The Animated Series makes great use of story arcs and single stories, all in the general style of the comics, meaning on the whole it doesn't stray too far from its source material. I know, I've read the original comics!

My One Big Highlight
Spiderman My favourite part of the show without a shadow of a doubt is Venom. Venom is the reason why I liked Spider-Man even more as a character. Here is a villain that has Spider-Man's powers and is stronger and faster. Yet, Spider-Man still manages to beat him! It was that episode that I decided that Spider-Man is my favourite superhero, and he continues to be to this day.
Elephant In the Room
elephantAs much as I love Spider-Man: The Animated Series, there is one glaring issue I (and many others) have with it – the animation. The series overall has aged well, but the animation sadly hasn't quite as much. Recent series like Spectacular Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man have shown that using only traditional animation ages a lot better.