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RERUN REVIEWS: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1×01 “Survival of The Fittest”, 1×02 “Interactions”, 1×03 “Natural Selection”

Written by Scott Swartz

 It’s that time of year again folks, when all your favorite programs are on summer hiatuses and you are told to go outside and enjoy the daystar while it hangs in the sky. In our case however it is time for the return of Rerun Review(holds for applause), I know you are all very excited to find out what series we will be partaking in this summer so we are gonna see how far we can get with some new classics in my opinion, starting with the utterly amazing Spectacular Spider-Man. Now our hopes for a great Spiderman series may have been rudely dashed in 2009 thanks to Sony selling back the TV rights of our favorite web head to Marvel. However, we still got twenty six episodes of what is considered by many including myself one if not the best Spider-Man series ever made. What made the series so great was not only the pedigree of it’s cast and creators but also how they nailed Peter Parker as a whole. Today we are going to focus on The Lizard Arc, so let’s flashback to a simpler time, and enjoy the ride.

 

“Survival of the Fittest”

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When you think of really good pilots very rarely do animated shows come up in the conversation, but “Survival of the Fittest” is basically pitch perfect in that front. Granted there are a lot of moving parts to establish, but Greg Weisman and crew manage to expertly set up all of the major players we will come across in the season while also weaving a fantastic narrative set around The Vulture’s hatred of Norman Osborn. The biggest star of the episode is easily our hero Peter Parker, played magnificently by Josh Keaton.There have been many quality portrayals of our favorite web head by many talented actors, but this was our first real chance to see peter in his prime as a teenage superhero rather than an already successful one. Keaton nails both sides of Peter the man and Spider-Man with the quips and puckish charm we have come to expect from everyone’s favorite wall crawler. A lot of his standout material is out of costume such as when he is taking with Aunt May, the heart displayed in these scenes are some of the best no doubt.

Of course we would be remiss to talk about the animation style of the series and well it does at times provide some awkward character models, see any time Peter is in a tank top, when the action hits it certainly manages to be spectacular. The way the camera follows Peter as he swing through the city is utterly superb and Peter’s fight with The Enforcers displays just how talented and adept Peter has become at using his powers in such a short time. The great combination of agility and strength helped to push this pilot way above what was expected of it.

 

Final Grade A- 

“Interactions”

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If you had to force me to choose what episode of season one is the hardest to watch from a sheer viewer perspective I would have to choose “Interactions.” There are a few reasons that can easily be picked out: Liz is really at her most annoying, Electro goes from sane to bats hit crazy with no notice, and the through line of Peter tutoring Liz just never really clicks until he stands up for himself. That is not to say that “Interactions” is a lousy episode, it is just when you are following a really great episode it is hard to capitalize on that momentum.

Let’s start with the Peter problem for the episode, he has no real desire or motivation to tutor Liz to the point halfway throughout the episode Peter as a character snaps and says she is not serious about her need to pass. If Peter had some sort of friendship or quality motivation for helping Liz out this issue would not arise but at this point the story would have better been served by helping Harry rather than the “cute girl”. Similarly, Max Dillion’s transformation into Electro doesn’t feel earned so much as forced on him as a character. Yes, I realize this is an aspect of many variations of Electro, but no one should go from zero to super villain so easily, especially when the Max presented to us seems like a relatively level headed guy. The way in which Max goes completely mental is disturbing in and of itself and luckily gets relatively remedied in future episodes.

 

Final Grade C

“Natural Selection”

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It’s amazing how Amazing Spider-Man took a very capable and smart character and managed to screw it up royally, yet Spectacular had one shot and basically nailed it without questions. If Electro is a “hard” villain to transfer to screen than anyone who can do what Weisman did for the Lizard should get a freakin medal. “Natural Selection” Manages to take all oft he better aspects of Curt Connors as a character and brings them right to the fore front. Curt at his core is a caring family man who made one small mistake that turned him into a monster. Much like many Spidey villains there is a sense of pathos between Peter and the now monstrous Lizard as he rampages throughout NYC. It also provides us with a rather gruesome/”I can’t believe this was a Saturday morning cartoon” transformation as Connor’s head literally caves in as he transforms. That is some f’d up visuals right there.

Where this episode really succeeds is the moral of the story that no matter the pain and strife which are delivered to Peter himself, the good he does as Spider-Man easily outweighs the bad. Peter’s ending dialogue about him becoming Spidey was a fluke, but until the web-head is not needed he will remain and save the day once again. It is excellent work once again by Keaton who captures Peter’s anger and understanding without missing a beat. Another big piece of the the episode is the fantastic continually fight between Spidey and The Lizard on the train. Clearly inspired by not only many great Spidey comics, but also Spider-Man 2 this fight manages to perfectly display Peter’s ability against a worthy opponent and well as setting a high water mark for the type of action we can expect.

Final Grade B

 

That ladies and gentlemen is The Lizard arc, a fantastic start to a fantastic show. Of course the best is yet to come so stay tuned. Join us next week, same Spidey place, same Spidey time.

Extra Thoughts

-I just have to say how much I love Spidey’s opening fight with Marko and O’hearn. Just a ton of great fluid movement and jokes. Exactly what Spider-Man should be

-Peter and Eddie’s bond in this series is easily one of the best aspects, It’s just so sad it has to end in violence. Sweet, Sweet Venom vs. Spider-Man violence.

-“Hey, climbing walls is my schtick. If you start spinning webs I’ll sue.” Easily my favorite quip of the three episodes with out question.

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About the author

Scott Swartz