“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does whatever a spider can… Look out, here comes the Spider-Man…”
If you don’t want the classic Spider-Man theme song stuck in your head for the unforeseeable future, I suggest that you don’t play fast and loose with your sanity by viewing this historical 60’s episode. If, however, you have a total disregard for your mental health and like to live on the edge, it can be found here:
The first episode of Season 2, titled, “The Origin of Spiderman” sets the tone for the prequel season of the much-loved web-slinging vigilante. This episode’s story is taken from The Spectacular Spider-Man magazine #1 created by Stan Lee. Although it’s not a 100% word for word representation, it matches the dialogue closely and truly encapsulates the zeitgeist of the late 1960’s, an interesting interpretation of the origin of Spider-Man. In this classic episode, Spider-Man learns that, “With great power, there must also always be great responsibility”.
My favourite thing about this episode is, that no matter where you start watching it from, there is no doubt at all what era it was made in. From the quintessentially 60’s dialogue to the groovy-looking fashion, what a great representation of 1960’s pop culture.
Our story begins on a bright school day in September. Moose and Sal, two smooth talking douchebags, cruise the school parking lot trying to pick up girls to take for a soda. They are unsuccessful in their plight and realise they need another “cat” if they want the girls to accompany them. Next thing you know, a brown-trouser-wearing Peter Parker strolls by, just in time to save the day. Moose asks Parker to join them but Parker has other things on his mind, radioactive things. Parker politely declines the offer to which Moose abusively calls him a “bookworm”. Deeply offended by the hateful slur, Parker vows to one day get even.
We now find ourselves in a professor’s lab witnessing a controlled radioactivity demonstration. During this time a spider lowers itself into the radioactive field, it starts to glow and becomes radioactive. The spider falls from its web and lands on Parker, which leads him to exclaim, “Ouch, something bit me”. Parker realizes it was a spider and starts to feel strange, so he decides getting fresh air is a good idea.
Parker walks the streets to try and shake the strange feeling that has come over him; he accidently stumbles into a member of The Village People. This angers the leather cladded thug and he cracks our homeboy across the chin.
Fortunately the radioactive spider venom is now pulsing through Parkers veins and he takes the punch like a boss; his spidey reflexes take over and he moves his arm to retaliate, not knowing his own strength, and breaks a lamp post in half. This scares the wise-talking thugs as one exclaims, “let’s get out of here pal, that cat’s a tiger”, they run for their lives.
We now witness a montage scene where Parker jumps around the city, climbing buildings and being a pest, his abilities have now become clear as he demonstrates his spider powers. Wanting to cash in on his new abilities, Parker creates a web-shooter and costume to become his new alter ego… Spider-Man.
I really love this representation of why Peter Parker creates the Spider-Man costume: not because he wants to help others and become a crime fighter, but because he wants to be a stunt man and become famous. Fair enough he wants to give the money he makes to uncle Ben and Aunt May, but he’s still thinking about the Benjamins like a true bruh.
Taking care of number one is now Spider-Mans sole priority. He goes to attend a TV audition in the hope to become famous. As Spidey arrives, a gun-wielding thief runs by, and he takes no action to stop him. We see that his heart, now filled with hate from the abusive torment he received from his peers, causes him to no longer care for anyone but himself. The audition goes well and Spidey swings out of the office following immense praise.
The cartoon now takes a dark turn as Parker returns home to find his beloved Uncle Ben has been murdered. He takes it upon himself to seek revenge and journeys to the old ACME warehouse on the waterfront where the criminal is holed up.
His worst nightmares are realized when he sees the criminal who shot Uncle Ben was the same man who he let go previously that day, If only he would have tackled him when he had the chance, Uncle Ben would not be dead. This grim realization defeats Parker and he vows that for as long as he lives “Spider-Man will never shirk his duty again”.
What really stands out for me in this classic episode is the epic music; it almost makes up for the shoddy low budget illustrations. The music works great with the scenes, and the switch from slow bluesy trumpets to up beat percussion-filled scores really help to pace the story. The sound effects really remind me of a 60s sitcom; whilst watching I started to reminisce of early Bewitched episodes… Just me then?
It’s no secret this series was made on a budget, from the recycled illustrations, to the uncorrected spelling mistakes, if you want glossy perfect imagery this is not for you. If you want a good wholesome blast from the past, a relic of days forgotten, then by all means waste 20 minutes of your life. I enjoyed it for what it was and was slightly entertained; that being said, I would not be tuning in again anytime soon, and episode two is definitely not on my bucket list!
Has anyone else seen this episode? Feel free to discuss in the comments section or send us your thoughts on Twitter!