Many have their own personal favorites episodes and "Spider-Man: The Animated Series" has plenty of good episodes to choose from. Granted, some seasons as a whole weren't very good overall (I'm looking at you, seasons four and five), but the series did have some brilliant episodes. It was much harder than I thought having to come up with just 10 episodes I thought best represent what this series is all about, how fun it can be and how wonderfully it was written. Some episodes were better than others, some were just good fun, and others were so un-watchable that you would rather put duct tape over your eyeballs than view them.
Nevertheless, I was able to find 10 episodes that are MY favorites. You don't have to agree with all of the choices, but I'm sure you, the visitors, will find some that you like and agree with. But enough rambling. I'll start this countdown slowly, and write out full reviews as to why these particular episodes made the cut.
Let's start with #10, shall we?
THE RUNNER-UP EPISODES: THE TEN STORIES THAT BARELY MISSED BEING LISTED AMONG THE TOP 10 BEST
#10.) "The Wedding"
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#9.) "Sins of the Fathers, Part X: Venom" and "Sins of the Fathers, Part XI: Carnage"
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#8.) "Partners in Danger, Chapter XIII: Return of the Green Goblin"
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#7.) "Negenic Nightmare, Chapter XIII: Shriek of the Vulture"/"Neogenic Nightmare, Chapter XIV: The Final Nightmare" (2-parter)
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#6.) "Sting of the Scorpion"
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#5.) "Neogenic Nightmare, Chapter IV: The Mutant Agenda" and "Neogenic Nightmare, Chapter V: Mutant's Revenge" (2-parter)
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#4.) "Sins of the Fathers, Chapter XIII: Goblin War!"
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#3.) "The Hobgoblin" 2-parter
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#2.) "The Menace of Mysterio"
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#1.) "The Spider-Slayer" and "Return of the Spider-Slayer" (2-parter)
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TOP 5 WORST EPISODES OF "SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES"
Yeah, this show is brilliant and had many, many good stories going for it. But it also had a lot of episodes that should have gotten a second look. Sure, they seem like good ideas at the time and they did a very good job overall with the series. But there are some episodes that are just so ridiculous, or were just downright badly written that I simply refuse to watch them. Every show has bad episodes, and unfortunately, "Spider-Man: The Animated Series" is no exception to the rule. Don't get me wrong. A lot of these stories had a lot of potential and could have been good, but unfortunately, they're just too poorly written for me to enjoy them. Here are the top 5 stories of the show that I'd rather forget existed...
#5.) "Partners in Danger, Chapter IV: The Haunting of Mary Jane Watson"
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#4.) "The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter XII: The Spot"
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#3.) "Partners in Danger, Chapter V: Partners"
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#2.) "The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter V: Rocket Racer"
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#1.) "The Return of Hydro-Man" 2-parter
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THE TOP FIVE MOST DISAPPOINTING EPISODES OF "SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES:
There are some stories of this wonderful TV show that aren't terrible by any means, but with so many flaws, disappointing moments and missed opportunities, these are the five stories that are too irritating for me to watch and enjoy. Sorry, Mr. Semper. I know you guys tried.
#5.) "Partners in Danger, Chapter II: The Cat" and "Partners in Danger, Chapter III: The Black Cat" (2-parter)
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#4.) "The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter II: Make a Wish" and "The Sins of the Fathers, Chapter III: Attack of the Octobot" (2-parter)
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#3.) The "Secret Wars" 3-parter
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#2.) The "Six Forgotten Warriors" five-parter
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#1.) "Spider-Wars, Part I: I Really, Really Hate Clones" and "Spider-Wars, Part II: Farewell, Spider-Man" (2-parter)
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THE OFFICIAL BEST AND WORST OF "SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES" LIST:
Who was the best guest star? Who was the best villain? What was the best moment on this series? And who did you just wish hadn't shown up at all on this show... ever? Those are the questions that fanboys debate about back and forth, but I have my own list of my own personal favorites. You may agree with some more than others, but all of us can agree that this was one brilliant animated series, no matter what flaws this show had. So, what do I think was the best about this show? Read on, and see if you agree with any of my choices.
BEST VOICE ACTOR - MAIN CAST MEMBER:
CHRISTOPHER DANIEL BARNES AS PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN
There are very few times that people say that someone WAS that character they were portraying. In the 1990s, three things were certain: Kevin Conroy WAS the voice of Batman, Cathal Dodd WAS the voice of Wolverine, and clearly, Christopher Daniel Barnes WAS the voice of Spider-Man. When I first learned of the casting as a kid, I was originally surprised, considering I'd heard him as the voice of Prince Eric when my parents took me and my sisters to see Disney's "The Little Mermaid". When I heard him as Spider-Man in the pilot episode "Night of the Lizard", the hook was firmly in my mouth from then on. Barnes did the role justice every time, even if the show would occasionally not focus much on Peter Parker (or even Spider-Man, depending on the story) or if the show had Peter come across as a jerk to his friends. While other voice actors seemed miscast to fans, no one could argue that Barnes owned the role of Spider-Man. Each joke, each inner monologue speech, each outburst of anger or regret - whatever line he was given, every emotion that Barnes gave to it when voicing Spider-Man was spot-on. And Mr. Barnes didn't just limit himself to voicing Spidey on this animated series. He also did the voice of Spider-Man for commercials for products like McDonald's Happy Meal toys, for video games like the voice of Noir Spider-Man for the various game platform "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions" and "Spider-Man: Edge of Time" games, and even for an animated segment at the sadly-long-gone Marvel Mania restaurant. Even now, I'm sure people can still hear Barnes' voice in their head every time they read a Spider-Man comic. Though other voice actors, like Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Keaton, have done their own wonderful job with voicing Spider-Man, for this show, and this time, Barnes was easily the best.
BEST VOICE ACTOR - VILLAIN:
NEIL ROSS AS NORMAN OSBORN/THE GREEN GOBLIN
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WORST VOICE ACTOR ON THIS SHOW: OLIVER MUIRHEAD AS JONATHAN OHN/THE SPOT AND DR. MICHAEL PINGREE
How could it NOT be Oliver Muirhead? With all due respect to voice actor Oliver Muirhead, his take on the Spot was just terrible. The high-pitched voice that Muirhead gave the character was just as annoying as the character himself, and since the Spot gets a lot of speaking lines in his only episode in season three, it's enough to make even the most die-hard Spider-Man fan want to push the TV's mute button and see what he's saying by closed-captioning. When he's saying lines meant to be threatening or intimidating, it falls flat because the high-pitch of his voice ruins it. When he sounds soft and sincere, it's too whiny to make you feel or care for the character. And even during some lines that would've made you normally laugh, like when the Spot speaks to the random portals he takes back like mischievous kids that got away from him, the high-pitched accent ruins the humor. It also didn't help that Mr. Muirhead got to appear as Dr. Pingree, the one-time assistant to Otto (future Dr. Octopus) Octavius, in the episode "Make a Wish" earlier that season. I'm sure Mr. Muirhead is a nice, talented guy, and I hope he's doing well, but it's a shame he had to give such an ear-splitting voice to the most obnoxious super-villain on this entire animated series.
VILLAIN I WISH HADN'T LEFT THE SERIES: MYSTERIO
"Hey!! HEY!! Where did my legs go?!?"
Sure, its a guy with a fishbowl for a head, but Mysterio has always been one of my favorite Spider-Man villains. On this show, what John Semper and company did with Mysterio was brilliant. This was the first REAL time we actually got to see Mysterio as a clever threat to Spider-Man, with up-to-date special effects technology used to drive Spidey crazy. Whether it was his illusions, robots or even his holographic holo-cubes, Mysterio had a nice array of gadgets at his disposal against our wall-crawling hero. But after being M.I.A. for all of season three, Mysterio got to pop up one last time for a solo episode in season four... where he died. Yep, after nearly two full seasons out of the spotlight, old Mysterio showed up just so he could get killed off-screen in an explosion. Sheesh. While Kraven got the girl (Dr. Mariah Crawford, who later became Calypso - huh?) and left the show, Mysterio got the girl (Miranda Wilson - don't ask), and perished with her. Um... okay. I know it's hard to take a guy seriously that looks like a gumball dispenser with a purple cape, but Mysterio deserved better treatment and he certainly didn't need to get killed off. We didn't even get a Mysterio II (Daniel Berkhart, who was Beck's old friend) out of the deal when Beck met his unfortunate demise! Of all of the villains handled best on this show, Mysterio was certainly one of them. It's just too bad Mysterio didn't get a better role on this show. Granted, he was only in four episodes, but at least he was a memorable foe for our web-headed hero.
MAIN CHARACTER I WISH HADN'T LEFT THE SERIES: THE REAL MARY JANE WATSON
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, 'WE DIDN'T GET A SEASON SIX PICK-UP FROM FOX'?!?"
Two full seasons. That's how long Mary Jane Watson was left in limbo on this show after the finale episode of season three, and since we never saw her again after that, it's possible that she's still been trapped in there ever since. You see, in "Turning Point", the mentioned season three finale episode, Mary Jane Watson was abducted by the original Green Goblin and woke up on top of the George Washington Bridge. When the ground started to split open due to one of Green Goblin's bombs, Mary Jane accidentally fell backwards off the bridge and she fell into a portal made by the Goblin's Time-Dialation Accelerator. But Spider-Man didn't see her fall into the portal to limbo and he thought she'd actually fallen into the river. When he dove in after her, he couldn't find her and thought Mary Jane was gone forever. Later, Mary Jane mysteriously returned in season four, she learned Peter's secret identity shortly afterwards and then the two were wed in season five. Alas, the Mary Jane that Peter had wed was really a clone, learned that her cells were falling apart and evaporated before Spidey's eyes. To make matters worse, in the series finale, Peter and Mary Jane never get reunited. It's bad enough that we got clones introduced on this show, but we never see Peter and Mary Jane reunite before the series finale?!? That's just plain wrong!! It's too bad that Mary Jane spent two seasons falling through the abyss of limbo, and it certainly didn't help that the look and color scheme of limbo made it look like M.J. was being flushed down swirling pink toilet water. If only the show had brought the REAL Mary Jane back before the series had ended...
VILLAINS I WISH HAD APPEARED IN LESS EPISODES ON THIS SHOW:
SCORPION AND MORBIUS
Eleven episodes and eight episodes. Those were the number of episodes that the Scorpion and Morbius, the Living Vampire had respectively appeared on this animated series. Please keep in mind that Scorpion's appearances alone on this show alone are MORE than the total number of episodes than Venom, Carnage and the Green Goblin had appeared on this show, COMBINED. Venom had popped up for three episodes (well, four technically if you count his shadowy appearance in "The Alien Costume, Part 2"), Carnage had two, and the original Green Goblin had five (three in season three, one in season four, and one in season five - well, two, if you include the alternate reality Green Goblin in the first part of the series finale). What I disliked most about Morbius was that he wasn't very interesting, he quickly got annoying and overexposed, and he got more episodes on this show than most of the important, classic and cooler villains Spidey has to offer. It was bad enough Morbius was shown as a vampire in five episodes of season two, but Morbius made his return for two episodes in season four and cameo in season five, those appearances were just unnecessary. Scorpion was just as bad, if not worse. While Scorpion worked fine for the first two seasons, especially when Martin Landau was the voice of Scorpion, his return was mediocre at best in season four and he quickly wore out his welcome once he returned for six -- SIX -- straight episodes in season five. While it's no fault or disrespect intended to voice actor Richard Moll, who took over the role of Scorpion in season four and did an excellent job, the way the character himself was handled was to blame. While his search for a cure to be with his girlfriend Sarah in season four was tolerable, that aspect was quickly ditched when he appeared in the aforementioned episodes of season five ("The Wedding" and the "Six Forgotten Warriors" 5-part story, respectively). What's worse, he didn't even mention that he wanted to be cured of his mutated self once in any of those episodes. It's too bad that we can get a handful of great Green Goblin episodes on this show, but we also get a truckload of pointless Morbius ones.
VILLAINS I WISH HAD APPEARED IN MORE EPISODES ON THIS SHOW: VENOM, CARNAGE, THE ORIGINAL GREEN GOBLIN AND MYSTERIO (FOUR-WAY TIE)
Can you believe that four of Spider-Man's greatest, classic villains got so grossly underused as the series progressed? Granted, most don't consider Mysterio as cool or dangerous as the other three villains shown above, but I sure as heck like the character. The new Insidious Six roster in season five just wasn't the same without the Master of Illusion. While Mysterio met an untimely off-screen demise in season four, the other three were sent off the face of the Earth... literally! Venom and Carnage were trapped in another dimension with Dormammu in season three, while the original Green Goblin was banished into limbo after the Time-Dialation Accelerator was destroyed. And if you saw how cool these villains were on this show, you can understand why I was disappointed that they didn't get more episodes devoted to them. The Green Goblin alone had so many classic stories that I would've loved to have seen animated, and the recent "The Spectacular Spider-Man" animated series had given more attention to the Goblin in its 26-episode, two season run than this show ever did in this 65-episode animated series. Here's hoping that one day a future Spider-Man animated series gives these villains more episodes and more character development than this show did.
BEST GUEST HERO: DAREDEVIL
"I am vengeance! I am the night! I am BATMA... er, I mean, DAREDEVILl!"
Spidey and Daredevil have always been close allies in the Marvel comic books, but I'm surprised Daredevil didn't make his debut until the third season. Regardless, it was worth the wait. Granted, there were plenty of guest heroes on this show, such as Black Cat, Captain America and Iron Man. But none of them had the impact that Daredevil had. After all, next to the Human Torch, Daredevil is one of Spidey's closest allies in the comics. What was nice about this show was that Spidey didn't meet Daredevil first in costume, he met him as Peter Parker. While he was framed for a crime by Richard Fisk, Peter had blind attorney Matt Murdock on his side to help him clear his name. When Richard and the Chameleon, who is disguised as Spider-Man, abduct Peter and try to murder him, Pete can't escape his cell and is running out of air fast. Then he is saved by Daredevil and then things REALLY get good when Spidey is later attacked by Daredevil when he thinks he helped kidnap Peter Parker! When the two eventually save each other from Kingpin's goons and defeat them, they get the chance to talk and Spidey learns Wilson Fisk is the Kingpin! The two even team up to stop the Kingpin in his own fortress, but aren't able to defeat the crime lord when Kingpin makes his escape. Though he got to appear in only two episodes and the two heroes never got to learn each other's alter-egos like they did in the comics (at least until the "One More Day"/"Brand New Day" mess), I got such a thrill out of watching Spidey interact with his closest super hero ally. While other guest heroes like Iron Man and the Fantastic Four are considered cooler than Daredevil, none of them got to shine or have the same chemistry like Spidey and Daredevil did. That's why DD is my pick for this show's best hero. If only he had been seen again on this show after season three...
WORST GUEST HERO: MADAME WEB
"Excuse me. I must go now and pester Spider-Man for many, many episodes and annoy the viewers with my supreme arrogance!"
Apparently, executive producer Avi Arad was dead-set against using Madame Web, but story editor John Semper fought to include her on the show and got his way. If only Avi Arad had won the argument. As a result of John Semper's insistence, we got what is clearly the worst guest hero Spider-Man ever met. What, exactly, is the appeal of a lady who sits on a chair in another dimension and does nothing but tell Spidey what he already knows to defeat his opponents? To make matters worse, Madame Web is easily the most arrogant character I've ever seen and is the last person you could ever expect to pick for a mentor. Most of the time, she was talking to Spider-Man like he was a simpleton who couldn't figure out how to stop the bad guys himself and most of them he'd already fought a few times before he had ever even met Madame Web, like Alistair Smythe and Tombstone. When Mary Jane disappeared, Madame Web didn't even try to help Spidey find her or tell him that she was even alive. And when she did come back, it was two seasons later to prepare him for his "test", the Secret Wars storyline. Then after that, she teamed Spidey with several alternate reality versions of himself to fight yet another alternate reality version of himself that was wearing the Carnage symbiote! HUH?!? What exactly is there to like about Madame Web here? Why did John Semper love her so much? If she hadn't popped up so much in season three or treated Spidey like a dummy, or had even been a likable character, this wouldn't be a complaint. But she had been so arrogant and unlikable over time, that you'd wished the writers would just rid us of the old lady already. Of all the characters to appear, Spidey's "mentor" is easily the worst character to ever appear on this show. Ever. At least the Spot had a purpose!
BEST MALE SUPPORTING CHARACTER: J. JONAH JAMESON
You really have to give mad props to legendary actor Ed Asner. If not for him, J. Jonah Jameson might not have had this honor. After all, Jameson could be cranky, deceptive, and even unlikable. Let's face it, the guy DID help create the Scorpion after all -- just to get rid of Spider-Man! But every time Asner would speak as Jameson, the character came alive and easily stole the show. Often, he'd be the best character and have the best moments in some truly unwatchable episodes. Whenever stories wouldn't work or something would seem off, Jameson never was. He always had a great moment that'd shine through and entertain viewers of the show. The chemistry Jameson had with Peter and Spider-Man was some of the best we've ever seen, in either an animated series or just plain ever. Whether it would be Jonah shouting at Peter Parker for needing to get photos taken, running away from a super villain and then having the credit for their capture go to Jonah rather than Spider-Man, or ranting about Spider-Man being a menace to New York City, every scene with Jameson was gold. Sure, Jonah didn't get much to do in some episodes and we never got to see much of him with his son John who only appeared in season one, but who cares? I'm glad for every moment we got with Jameson on this show. Sure, he was a headache for Peter Parker and Spider-Man alike, but for the audience, Jameson was a hoot.
BEST FEMALE SUPPORTING CHARACTER: AUNT MAY PARKER
Let's face facts here: Mary Jane Watson was mostly underused until her banishment in season three, and Felicia Hardy at times could act like a snob and act bizarrely out of character. However, while Peter's Aunt May wasn't the most present female character (or the youngest, for that matter), she was easily the best the show had to offer. There was never a moment where she deviated too much from her comic book counterpart, or was too obnoxious or mishandled. Her characterization was consistent, something Peter's love interests lacked. She loved her nephew, she hated "that awful Spider-Man", and she had health problems that made Peter worry about her. That never changed. Heck, in season two, she even thought Doctor Octavius, a.k.a. Doc Ock, was a nice, charming man and didn't even know she was his captive, just like in the comics! As a bonus, Linda Gary (the voice for Teela and the Sorceress on the 1980's "Masters of the Universe" cartoon!) was the voice of Aunt May! When Miss Gary sadly passed away, Aunt May was recast with Julie Bennett from late season four on, and she handled the character well. May even got an important role in the "Six Forgotten Warriors" five-episode story, and though I dislike those episodes, I do admit it was nice to see a different side of Aunt May in those episodes. She wasn't just a doting, worrying aunt in those episodes - we found out she also had secrets of her own by hiding that Peter's parents were spies for Russia (or so she thought) and she had a friendship with ex-super hero Keene Marlowe. While Mary Jane and Felicia gave Peter headaches and problems of the heart, Aunt May was always there to support her nephew, she feared for his safety when he'd take pictures of Spider-Man, and she occasionally would be admitted to the hospital to make Peter worry about her health for a change. That, and she's a heck of a cook.
SUPPORTNG CHARACTER I WISH HAD BEEN HANDLED BETTER:
MARY JANE WATSON
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WORST SUPPORTING CHARACTER: AUNT ANNA WATSON
"Why am I so cranky on this show? I swear, I'm NOTHING like this in the comic books."
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BEST GUEST TEAM: THE X-MEN
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GUEST HEROES I WISH HAD APPEARED IN MORE EPISODES ON THIS SHOW: THE X-MEN, DAREDEVIL, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FANTASTIC FOUR (FOUR-WAY TIE)
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GUEST HERO I WISH HAD BEEN USED ON THIS SHOW:
THE INCREDIBLE HULK
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BEST SEASON: SEASON ONE
"Gimmie some sugar, baby!"
Do you remember the excitement you felt the first time you sat down in front of the TV and watched the first ever episode of "Spider-Man"? Or anxiously awaiting the next episode to see what would happen next, which new villain Spidey would fight next, or what problems would befall our lovable hero? Before season two started the whole-season saga format began, we got a few single episodes and a select few multi-part episodes to showcase the origins of Spidey's foes and their first fights with our wall-crawling hero. In the first season alone, we got the Lizard, the Kingpin, the Spider-Slayer robots, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Scorpion, Kraven, the Hobgoblin, the Rhino, Shocker, Venom, and the Chameleon! As a plus, we got a pre-Green Goblin Norman Osborn as Kingpin's underling and he had some great moments that made him just as nasty and evil before he even tossed down pumpkin bombs while flying on a bat-shaped glider. Most of these characters would get lost in the shuffle as the seasons went on, most of them would go from powerful threats to serving as just another of Kingpin's hired henchmen, and more attention was made to the various new characters that made their debut. But the episodes from seasons two to five vary from either excellent, watchable, or, as much as I hate to write this, just downright awful. Season one, fortunately, had none of those problems. Even the two "The Hobgoblin" episodes, which story editor John Semper named as his two least favorite episodes of the series, were more entertaining than having to sit through the likes of "The Spot" or "Rocket Racer". As the show went on, several episodes left me disappointed and repeat animation was grossly overused. But for season one, most of the animation was new and just plain gorgeous to look at. The stories were fun, well-told, to-the-point and handled the origins of Spidey's foes brilliantly. The stories didn't stretch on too long or deviate too much from the comic books, which later seasons would do. And you couldn't ask for a better voice actor for Spidey at that time than Christopher Daniel Barnes, who many consider to be the best voice of Spidey to date. It's true that John Semper and company gave us a memorable "Spider-Man" series, but to me, no season was as exciting, well-written and cool as season one was.
WORST SEASON: SEASON FOUR AND SEASON FIVE (TIE)
Mary Jane's return in season four's "The Return of the Green Goblin" episode is ruined in season five when it's revealed she's a clone.
What's worse? A short fourth season that disappoints with nearly every episode with weak storylines, usually crummy villains, and under-uses its intended main guest star, the Black Cat? Or a final season that has so many irritating episodes, adds little to the series, causes more headaches than it entertains, concludes with a disappointing series finale and never returns two characters missing since the season three finale that were easily two of the best characters that the show had to offer? I say, it's too hard to decide and quite frankly, I don't want to pick.
After the season three finale episode "Turning Point", there were just too many episodes that had good ideas but weren't written as well as they could've been. Some choices had me puzzled, such as calling season four "Partners in Danger" when Spidey only had Black Cat for his partner for a mere three episodes before she left and made Spidey a loner again. Other aspects had me very upset, such as killing off Mysterio in season four and introducing the Rheinholt Kragov version of Electro in season five. Some episodes were just unneeded, like the two Morbius episodes of season four. And then there were those episodes that just made me want to ask the writers what they were thinking for writing such awful stories, such as the infamous "The Return of Hydro-Man" two-parter and the "Spider-Wars" two-part series finale.
In a way, season four was worse because it was just so short with a mere eleven episodes. Seasons two and three each were 14 episode storylines instead of the usual 13, taking away two much-needed episodes for season four. While season four gave us the Black Cat's long-overdue debut, it also gave two episodes for Doc Ock that underused and mishandled him, gave two pointless stories with Morbius, Blade and other vampires, had Kraven abruptly leave with Mariah Crawford after her sudden transformation into Calypso, killed off Mysterio in a truly disappointing story involving a thought-dead actress, and introduced the Mary Jane clone we all would later learn wasn't the real McCoy. And aside from Black Cat's debut episode, her stories just weren't that interesting and having Cat more involved with Morbius than Spider-Man on this show didn't help much. Granted, you didn't want the two to end up together because of the Peter/M.J. match up, but it would've been nice if they'd done a better job with Spidey and Black Cat on this series.
Then again, season five was worse than four in many other ways. We got five "Six Forgotten Warriors" episodes that included the Insidious Six, the Six American Warriors, a subplot with Peter Parker's parents (FINALLY!!), Silver Sable, the Wild Pack, the Red Skull, Captain America, and Electro, and totally failed to deliver on all aspects by cramming in too many characters and storylines. In addition, not only do they ruin Electro by making him a totally different character, but they lose character development on all the characters new and old, lose focus from all of their story sub-plots, and conclude it all with a disappointing finale. Aside from the five-parter, we get a watered down "Secret Wars" three-part storyline that omits several important characters (the Hulk, Thor, all of the X-Men except for Storm, Magneto, and others are NOT included?!?), and a two-part finale that has Spidey team-up with other versions of himself from alternate realities. We also get the return of a character that was mercifully absent from season four - Madame Web, Spidey's arrogant mentor. But easily the worst aspect of this season was what they did with Mary Jane. While it finally married Peter and Mary Jane, it was revealed she was a clone made by Miles Warren and she evaporated. Adding insult to injury, the real Mary Jane never returned on this series. In regards to M.J.'s absence, Mr. Semper remarked in an online interview that the finale was more of Spidey's saga being completed and remarked "who cares if he gets the girl or not?" Well, I sure as heck care! A lot of fans did, too. As a result, you get an unresolved finale that's both really frustrating and tremendously disappointing.
So, in conclusion, I still can't say which season was THE worst season of the series - season four or season five. All I will say, is that they're equally irritating and incredibly disappointing. Sorry, Mr. Semper, but I just didn't care for these seasons. Let's move on to other subjects so I can get back to praising this wonderful show.
BEST ADDITION TO THE SPIDER-MAN UNIVERSE:
THE OTTO OCTAVIUS/PETER PARKER MENTOR-STUDENT RELATIONSHIP
This idea was so brilliant, you're amazed that Stan Lee himself didn't think of it first! This was the first time ever that someone had the awesome idea to have a past history between Peter Parker and his multi-limbed enemy, and I honestly cannot commend John Semper and his crew of writers enough for its inclusion. On this show, in season one's "Doctor Octopus: Armed and Dangerous", Peter knew Doc Ock way back when Ock was just the kind, sane owner of a science camp that Peter attended when he was ten years old. Cut to eight or nine years later, in which Peter discovers his one-time mentor has not only gone insane, but he even kidnaps his would-be girlfriend Felicia Hardy in front of his eyes and then he crashes part of the ceiling on top of poor Peter when Ock makes his escape! Later in said episode, after Doc Ock abducts J. Jonah Jameson as well, Peter agrees to give the ransom money to his old mentor and tries to appeal to his good side in order to have him release his captives. Unfortunately, Ock thinks of his ransom as a good first installment of payment for their release and then he promptly tosses Peter out of a window after the one-time student stands up to his ex-mentor. But the Peter/Ock friendship didn't end when "Spider-Man" ended its run on the Fox Kids network. Fast forward to the year 2004, and we see that director Sam Raimi gave his own take on the Peter/Octavius mentor relationship in my favorite movie, comic book based or otherwise, to date - "Spider-Man 2". Most fans forget that Doc Ock and Peter never had a bond like this in the early comics. But after seeing it handled so well on this show and then again in "Spider-Man 2", it's quite simply hard to imagine the time when Ock and Peter didn't have a history and friendship. Kudos, guys. 'Nuff said!
BEST DUO: WILSON FISK/KINGPIN AND ALISTAIR SMYTHE
There are very few pairings that worked so wonderfully on this show as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, and Alistair Smythe, his go-to inventor and lieutenant for the first three seasons. This is so wonderful, in fact, it almost seems like it was in the comic books. It was that good! You see, in season one, Spencer Smythe made a deal with Kingpin's lackey Norman Osborn to get Alistair a hoverchair in exchange for taking care of Spider-Man with his Black Widow Spider-Slayer. When the Widow failed and the lab started to catch fire, Norman got Alistair out as promised and they saw the lab explode. Having lost his father (or so he thought), Alistair was found by Kingpin who made him a deal: work for him as his robotics expert, and he can get revenge on Spider-Man with all the funding for his inventions he'd ever need. But when Alistair's three Spider-Slayer robots failed, Alistair learned he would only leave Kingpin's employ when Spider-Man was dead (or "destroyed", as they'd say on the show). But once season three rolled around, things changed, and sadly, not for the better. Alistair tried to betray Kingpin, so he had his henchman Herbert (Two-Face knock-off) Landon replace Smythe as Kingpin's lieutenant and had turned his predecessor into a cyborg. Alistair may have become the Ultimate Spider-Slayer, but even that didn't stop him for long in leaving Kingpin's employ and taking his newly-discovered father, who was in cryogenic suspension all along, with him. Sure, we saw Alistair after that and Kingpin worked quite well with Landon from season three on. But the spark just wasn't there. Both Kingpin AND Smythe weren't as interesting without the other, and I just loved the dialogue between these two. Whenever you heard Roscoe Lee Browne's Kingpin say "Smythe" or hear Smythe's comebacks to Kingpin, usually about being correct that Kingpin couldn't trust the person he was working with, it was always enjoyable. The two didn't always get along, and rightfully so, but let's face it: their pairing together was for the enjoyment of fans of the show. And every time these two shared the same scene together, it was always well-written and well-acted. I can't give enough kudos to Fox Kids, John Semper, the voice actors and the entire crew for giving us the pairing of Kingpin and Alistair Smythe.
WHAT I WISH HAD BEEN INCLUDED ON THIS SHOW BEFORE IT ENDED:
THE RETURN OF THE REAL MARY JANE
After being left falling through limbo in the season three season finale episode, you have no idea how happy I was to see Mary Jane back in season four. In season four's "Chapter VIII: Return of the Green Goblin", the Punisher is hired by Mary Jane's aunt Anna Watson (just go with it) to find her missing niece and she believes Peter may know where M.J. is now. At the end of the episode, after Spider-Man fights with Harry Osborn/Green Goblin II, Peter returns home and finds Punisher waiting for him, seated on his couch along with a tied-up, unmasked Green Goblin! The Punisher approaches Peter and demands to know where Mary Jane is, but before he can answer, the doorbell rings. After the door opens, everyone is shocked to see Mary Jane standing in the doorway! She comes inside and hugs Peter, unsure of where she's been or what's happened. I didn't know then just how M.J. got out of limbo, but in all honesty, I just didn't care. I love Mary Jane and I was glad to see her back on this show. To make things better, she even married Peter in the debut episode of season five!! However, you can only imagine my surprise and dismay, though, when "Mary Jane" was revealed to be a clone of Miles Warren and she found her way out of Warren's lab and to Peter's home. Uh-huh. When the series finale came along, I thought he would've found her in limbo in the last few minutes. No such luck. Not only did M.J. NOT return from limbo, we only saw Spider-Man go off with Madame Web in search of her, so even HE didn't see her again before the series ended. Instead of seeing Mary Jane return in a sixth season, we got "Spider-Man Unlimited"... and that show wasn't anywhere near as good as this animated series. It's too bad that after two full seasons, Mary Jane never returned from limbo, and fans are stuck with wondering, "What if...?"
PLOT LINE THAT I WISH HADN'T DRAGGED ON SO LONG:
SPIDER-MAN'S MUTATION DISEASE (FROM SEASON TWO)
In season two, Spider-Man is revealed as a neogenically-made mutant with a mutation disease that ultimately turns him into the Man-Spider. Seriously.
We know the drill: Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and gets super powers as a result. Simple enough. But on this show, that wasn't the end of the change, but rather just the beginning. Starting in season two's debut episode "Chapter I: The Insidious Six", Spidey starts losing his powers for no real reason and so he pays a visit to Dr. Curt Connors to find out what's wrong. In the next episode, "Chapter II: Battle of the Insidious Six", Connors tells Spider-Man his change is accelerating because of his mutagenic change (yes, as in "mutant") and while he doesn't know what Spidey's turning into, he knows that it won't be human. Great, GREAT line and a great hook for a good story! At least, you'd think it would've been a good story, right? Wrong. While it would've been fine for a few episodes, season two had FOURTEEN episodes of Spidey suffering from his mutation disease. It reached its peak in "Chapter VI: Morbius", when Peter gained six arms and then in "Chapter VII: Enter the Punisher", the metamorphosis turned the six-armed Spider-Man into the bestial Man-Spider! In "Chapter VIII: Duel of the Hunters", Kraven the Hunter and the Punisher, of all people, team-up to capture Spider-Man and then Kraven's girlfriend Dr. Mariah Crawford gives Spidey the antidote that turns him back into the human-looking Spidey we know and love. That was fine, but it was NOT the last of the mutation disease, as "Chapter IX: Blade the Vampire Hunter" revealed Crawford DIDN'T cure Spidey's mutation disease, but rather it merely returned him to his human form! UGH!! Granted, the title of the season was "Neogenic Nightmare", but did we have to see fourteen episodes before Spidey gets rid of his mutation disease? It also didn't help that they felt the need to ruin Spidey's powers and origin by saying the bite of a neogenically-altered spider turned him into an unnatural, super-powered mutant. Spidey's NOT a mutant, and saying he's a kind-of mutant since he wasn't born with his spider-powers is just lame! If you're born with powers and they manifest during puberty, you're a mutant. If you don't develop powers during puberty, you're a normal human being. Simple as that. And how Spidey gets cured of his mutation is even worse than saying he's a non-mutant mutant. After the Vulture drains off Spider-Man's energy and youth with his taloned gloves, he also gets Spidey's mutation disease as well. Curt Connors manages to get Vulture to transfer Spidey's youth and super powers into him, but Vulture learns he's stuck with the mutation disease and eventually flies off in the form of Man-Spider. Seriously. We actually see the Man-Spider formed Vulture fly off into the night. Even worse, when the Vulture returns in season four, he is chained to the wall in Scorpion's home and is changing back and forth from his old self to his young self. But even though Vulture's changing back and forth from young to old, he's doing so without being stuck infected with Spidey's mutation disease. Um... HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!? NO explanation is given at all as to how Vulture is suddenly mutation free and all we see of the Vulture stuck as Man-Spider is by a flashback when Scorpion says that he found him like that after his last encounter with Spidey. I could've done without fourteen episodes of Spidey with a mutation problem, thanks, and I'm sure other fans would say the same thing.
BEST VILLAIN: THE GREEN GOBLIN
Was there ever any doubt here? The Green Goblin didn't get as many episodes on this show as I would've liked, but every time he was on screen, I loved every second of seeing the Goblin in action. Not only did he confront and defeat his predecessor, the Hobgoblin, with ease, he would have destroyed him - as well as Felicia Hardy - if Spider-Man hadn't stopped him. On top of that, he even discovered Spider-Man's secret identity and nearly told all of Peter's friends his secret during his own son's birthday party! But of course, the original Goblin's crowning accomplishment was abducting - and unknowingly causing the disappearance of - Spider-Man's girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. Unfortunately, this would also prove to be Norman's last time confronting Spider-Man himself, as he'd be stuck in limbo shortly after Mary Jane vanished. But even being in limbo didn't stop the Green Goblin. Somehow able to communicate with his own son Harry through limbo, the Goblin told his son how to find the Goblin's arsenal at OsCorp - and convinced him to turn the valve of a gas tank and release the gas to turn Harry into the second Green Goblin! Granted, the episodes with Harry as the Green Goblin left a lot to be desired, but the original Green Goblin will always be my favorite villain on this show. For two seasons, we saw Norman Osborn create the Hobgoblin in an attempt to assassinate his boss the Kingpin, only to have his creation turn on him and Kingpin constantly threatened Norman's life, as well as Harry's, on many occasions in order to get what he wanted. Thankfully, season three gave us three brilliant episodes where it was Norman's turn to wear the Goblin mask. While he only fought Spider-Man himself for the three mentioned episodes, there's no denying that the Goblin had a lasting impact... and remains the best villain Spidey ever faced on this series.
BEST VILLAIN THAT WAS LATER HANDLED REALLY, REALLY POORLY:
Poor Otto Octavius. He started off cool on this show. He really did. He had a brilliant debut episode in season one, and he joined the Kingpin's Insidious Six team in two equally awesome episodes in season two. But once Doc Ock's episodes came and went in season three, his coolness had instantly disappeared. He defeated Spider-Man in season three's "Sins of the Fathers, Chapter II: Make a Wish", which was nice, but unfortunately, he was still stuck as one of Kingpin's many super-powered henchmen. Then came the next episode, "Chapter III: Attack of the Octobot". After brainwashing Spider-Man and making him his partner in crime for whatever reason, Ock fought Spider-Man when he got his memory back... but was quickly, and far too easily, defeated by his own Octobot by a girl named Taina, Spidey's number one fan. Here's the proof:
Talk about embarrassing. The next time we saw Ock was in season four's "Partners in Danger, Part II: The Cat", who was trying to blackmail Felicia Hardy's mother. But even then his role in the episode was minimal and his part in the story quickly lost focus. In fact, Kingpin has Ock fall from a trapdoor in his jet and he grabs onto the open trapdoor for dear life with his tentacles, as shown in the first above image. Dangling hundreds of stories over New York, a whimpering Ock admits he can come to a deal with the Kingpin that benefits them both to avoid his early demise. Here's a picture of that:
Seriously? Doc Ock would NEVER beg for his life like a spineless wimp, especially since he could have held Kingpin by the leg with a free tentacle and turn the tables on the crimelord. Then, in the very next episode, "Chapter III: The Black Cat", Doc Ock only shows up for a cameo at the last few minutes while in Kingpin's plane, and grabs onto the Black Cat with his tentacles. However, Ock makes his exit as quickly as he made his entrance by falling through the breaking floor of the plane. Though he falls, Ock had already been wearing a parachute for who knows what reason and he parachutes to safety. In season five, Doc Ock got to pop up with the Insidious Six again for the five "Six Forgotten Warriors" episodes and he later appeared in the three "Secret Wars" episodes. But even then, Ock's role in all of those episodes was minimal and he never got the chance to show how dangerous and smart he was in season one. Worst of all, Doc Ock's brilliantly-written relationship with Peter Parker was utterly wasted in his later episodes. As I already mentioned above, Ock had a mentor/student relationship with Peter Parker that was brilliantly introduced into this show in Ock's debut episode. While it was touched upon in season two's Insidious Six episodes, it was forgotten entirely in seasons three to five. It seems old Ock just couldn't catch a break on this show once the Kingpin got his chubby little fingers on him. Doctor Octopus still remains my favorite Spider-Man villain of all time, though. He always has been and he always will. It's just a shame that this show didn't give Doc Ock any episodes after season two that were as memorable as the first two seasons.
WORST VILLAIN: THE SPOT
"I'll be starring in Walt Disney's next big hit, '103 Dalmatians'! Guess who I play?"
Whiny, high-pitched voice in an accent I can't figure out? Check. Looks like the human equivalent of a dalmatian? Check. Characterization so bad you're thanking your lucky stars he was only one episode of this show? Check! In theory, the Spot's powers are actually kind of interesting. He use the black holes on his body as a means of transportation, as well as turning someone's attack meant for him back on his attacker. Just ask Spider-Man, who got wrapped in his own webbing when they went through one of Spot's portals and out of another back at him. Spot could also use his portals to attack Spider-Man with, meaning he could punch into a portal a few miles away and his fist would hit the distant Spidey in the face. But the main reason that the flaw got to be honored as the worst villain was his voice. That really, REALLY obnoxious voice. I've already said why it was bad since Spot's voice actor, Oliver Muirhead, was selected by me as the show's worst voice actor on the show. What's worse, Spot's grand exit from the show is that he sacrifices himself by being in a larger-than-usual portal by closing it from within, and his scientist girlfriend Sylvia goes with him so they can be together. Uh... why is that considered a sacrifice? He could've just re-opened a portal out of limbo and go back to the city, since that's what he did about four billion times in his debut episode. Whatever. An exit's an exit, I suppose. It's really hard to take a guy seriously as a villain when he has black spots all over his body and a voice whiny enough to nearly crack your ear drums in half. That's why, in my opinion, the Spot is the worst villain on this show and I dare anyone to tell me I'm wrong with my choice.
VILLAIN I REALLY, REALLY WISH THIS SHOW HAD USED: SANDMAN
Yeah, yeah, this is REALLY just a photo of Hydro-Man from this animated series edited in a Sepia tone effect. But still, you get the idea.
As I've mentioned before, Jim Cameron tried to make a "Spider-Man" film in the 1990s and had Electro and Sandman planned as the villains for his film. As a result, Sandman and Electro became off-limits from popping up on this show. While John Semper used Electro (sort of) in season five, Sandman was never used...and I remain livid the show never managed to introduce old Sandman on any of their episodes. Sandman is not only one of Spider-Man's greatest foes, he's also one of his first super-powered enemies that Spidey ever fought. To think, that the "Spider-Man" show could devote countless episodes to the likes of Morbius and the Spider-Slayers, but not even give one to the Sandman. Even the Spot and Rocket Racer got to make at least one appearance on this show. Now that's just wrong.
VILLAIN I WISH HAD REALLY APPEARED ON THIS SHOW:
MAXWELL DILLON AS ELECTRO
"I once caught a fish THIS BIG!"
Yeah, yeah, we actually did get an episode with Electro as the villain on this animated series (season five's "The Price of Heroism"), but it wasn't the Electro I know and love. In the comic books, electrical lineman Max Dillon becomes Electro after he was struck by lightning while working on power lines. After that, he becomes one of Spider-Man's most persistent, classic foes. Not bad for a guy who runs around with a fairly large, star-shaped lightning bolt on his mask. On this show, we get a made-for-TV character named Rheinholt Kragov, the German son of the Red Skull who became the Chief of Police in Moscow. Ugh. Kragov may have been a powerhouse who destroyed the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. base and defeated Spider-Man and the Six Forgotten Warriors with ease, but he was also annoying and nowhere near as cool as his comic book counterpart. Granted, that the show wasn't allowed to use him for the first four seasons due to the previously mentioned topic with Jim Cameron trying to make a "Spider-Man" film in the 1990s. And even then, it wouldn't have mattered anyway because Jim Cameron had an all-new character for his Electro, too: millionaire/businessman Carlton Strand. Seriously, why didn't anyone want to use Max Dillon as Electro? He's one of Spidey's greatest enemies! If you're not going to get the character right, perhaps it would've been best if Electro HADN'T appeared on this show at all.
TEAM OF HEROES I WISH WE'D SEEN ON THIS SHOW: THE AVENGERS
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TEAM OF VILLAINS I WISH WE HAD SEEN ON THIS SHOW:
THE SINISTER SIX
I know, this isn't a real screenshot, as Sandman wasn't even on this show. This just fan art I made. But who wouldn't have wanted to see Doc Ock lead his teammates from the comics on this brilliant show?
Yes, I know, we technically had them on the show, but they were called the Insidious Six because someone at Fox Kids thought "sinister" sounded too evil and scary for a children's show. A superhero children's show. Whatever. Look, it's no secret I wish that the two villains that couldn't appear on this show, Flint Marko/Sandman and Max Dillon/Electro, would have been able to appear on the show, because they're two of my favorite villains. Granted, Kraven wouldn't likely be on the team since he wasn't exactly a villain per se on this show. I mean, Kraven teamed with Spidey as often as he fought him with each appearance. But since the Hobgoblin was already on the show, wouldn't it have been great if we got to see him join Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Vulture, Electro and Sandman to become the Sinister Six? Picture it: Doc Ock could have assembled the Six this time around, maybe to show to Kingpin he wasn't another of his nameless, bumbling henchmen and that he had taken Fisk's team and made it his own. Since Rhino and Shocker were Kingpin's henchmen, and Chameleon betrayed the Six in season five's "Six Forgotten Warriors" storyarc, Ock could've decided not to include them. Instead, Ock could have assembled his own team, using the Sinister Six roster we know and love from the comic books. I know Mysterio died in season four, but we never actually saw him perish, so we could just say he turned up alive so he could be on Ock's Sinister Six team. Or, if they didn't want Beck back, the series could have brought in Daniel Berkhart, the second Mysterio from the comic books. Now, I don't blame John Semper for the Insidious Six and I really, REALLY love the team, especially the season two roster, especially because Mysterio was on the season two version of the Six and I think Mysterio is awesome. Mr. Semper and his team did a great job with using Chameleon, Mysterio (later replaced by Vulture), Rhino, Scorpion, Shocker and Doc Ock on the same team. But as good as the Insidious Six were, they just weren't the Sinister Six.
SPIDER-MAN OUTFIT I WISH HAD BEEN BROUGHT BACK:
THE BLACK COSTUME
It may have barely been on the show, but it sure looked cool. Featured only in two episodes of this entire show (season one's "The Alien Costume" parts 1 and 2, respectively), Peter Parker wakes up from a nightmare to find out that the black slime he thought was pollution in the Hudson River had now taken form of a black and white suit. But it didn't just give him a new suit, it also increased his spider-powers. He was now faster and stronger, he could now he could shoot webbing from it from the back of his wrists, and best of all, his suit could change from his Spidey outfit to whatever clothes he could think of. But when Spidey found out it taking him over and affecting his personality, Spider-Man went to Curt Connors to test the suit and learned it was actually a living symbiote! Spider-Man soon rid himself of the suit in the finale of "The Alien Costume, Part II" and it bonded with Eddie Brock to become one of his worst enemies, Venom. Sadly, after season one, we never saw the black costumed Spider-Man again. In the comics, Spidey wore a black-and-white cloth version of the symbiote suit, so why couldn't he have done the same for a few episodes later in the show? Curiously, we got to see the alternate-reality Spider-Men in the two-part "Spider-Wars" series finale, but none of those Spider-Men wore the black costume. It's astounding to me that we got to see the Spider-Armor Spider-Man, Octo-Spidey (Spidey with Doc Ock's tentacles, obviously), and a six-armed Spider-Man, but no black costume Spider-Man. Oh, well.
CHARACTER HISTORY I WISH HAD BEEN USED ON THE SHOW:
KRAVEN AND THE CHAMELEON
The master of disguise and the world's greatest hunter have a lot of history together in the Spider-Man comic books. On this show, they have not only no history, but they've never even met. The Chameleon worked wonders on this show as a silent but dangerous spy, sneaking around with everyone oblivious to his presence (and his always present image-inducing buckle on his belt for seasons one to three). Kraven was a hunter who went insane due to jungle toxins, but he was later cured by his lady love and went back to Africa with her. That was fine for the TV show, but the comics had so much more interesting, rich stories between the two, and that was before the 1990's revealed Kraven and Chameleon were actually half-brothers. Granted, you couldn't exactly have a complex relationship on a Fox Kids' children's show about a Russian hunter who had abused his servant step-brother for years and said step-brother only tried to make the man he idolized, yet was tormented by, proud of him. But it's interesting how no Spider-Man animated series has ever, to my knowledge, paired the two up and had them working together. Heck, in the comics, it was the Chameleon who sent for Kraven to come to America and hunt Spider-Man down in the first place! Here's hoping the next "Spider-Man" animated series at least teams up these two classic foes.
WORST INVENTION: THE TIME-DIALATION ACCELERATOR
The Green Goblin gets his hands on the accelerator. Bad move, Gobby.
If only Norman Osborn's cackling alter-ego had just broken the dang thing in two when he had the chance. Maybe then he wouldn't have been banished into limbo, as well as his captive Mary Jane Watson, during his last encounter with Spider-Man. Sure, the time-dialation accelerator is an ideal tool for anyone to use, especially criminals on a Saturday morning cartoon series. Imagine being able to go where you want, as far away from home or work as you wanted, and never have to worry about refilling your car with $3 per gallon of gas again. Sure, you'd need a power pack to power your device. But if you made a robbery, how could the police get you if you were able to have a portal appear beneath their feet and send them falling into a limbo dimension until you dropped them off in the middle of nowhere so they couldn't arrest you? No matter how cool in theory the accelerator is, though, it's still the worst invention this show had. One could argue that the Neogenic Recombinator would rightfully have that title, since it did everything from being responsible to the creation the Scorpion and Morbius to turning ordinary people into vampires with the push of a button. But the reason I chose the Time-Dialation Accelerator over the Recombinator as the worst invention is that this ONE invention gets rid of four of the show's best characters: Carnage, Venom, Mary Jane and the original Green Goblin. A larger version of the accelerator is used to send Dormammu back to his home dimension, as well as Carnage and Venom, before Iron Man crushes it. The man who created the inter-dimensional technology, Jonathan (future villain Spot) Ohn, re-creates the device, which ultimately gets lost in the vortex when the Spot sacrifices himself to close an all-powerful portal to save New York. It returns to the city, where Hobgoblin gains possession of it. It's then stolen from him by Green Goblin, who modifies and miniaturizes it for his new crimes. During his last fight with Spider-Man atop the George Washington Bridge, both men don't notice that Mary Jane goes into a portal of the accelerator when she falls off the bridge and the real M.J. is never seen again. Mere minutes later, when the Goblin unsuccessfully tries to repair his damaged device, the portal he makes is unstable and he becomes trapped inside of it when his own glider crushes the accelerator strapped to his chest. So, there you have it. Four of the best, most popular characters in Spider-Man's entire comic book history vanish from the Earth by floating black inter-dimensional holes. Thanks a lot, Dr. Ohn. Now you have the infamy of having the worst voice actor AND invention on the show.
GUEST HERO(ES) I WISH HAD APPEARED IN SEASON ONE:
THE FANTASTIC FOUR
"Gah! Look out! Twentieth Century Fox wants to make ANOTHER reboot movie about us again!"
If you've ever read the Spider-Man comic book series, you'll likely know Spider-Man's very first adventures frequently used the Fantastic Four, especially Spidey's best friend from the comics, the Human Torch. Spider-Man and the Human Torch have teamed up as often as they've fought, sure, but not even Daredevil is as close buds with the web-head as the Torch is. Or he was, since Human Torch's died in the comics recently and Spidey's taken his place on the F.F. team, but I'm sure the Torch will be back to the land of the living soon enough. Anyway, Spider-Man never actually got to meet the Human Torch or the other Fantastic Four members until the team was brought to an alien planet by Spidey in season five's three-part "Secret Wars" story along with several other super heroes. While it was fun to see Spidey fight with the team at first and ultimately team up with them, the pairing of Spidey with the Fantastic Four was long overdue. What's worse, there was no real chemistry between Spidey and Human Torch, with no real moments between the two that reminded me of the two best friends I knew from the comics. And if a kid watching the show can tell something's off, you'd better know that this should've been done not only earlier on the show, but better. Adding insult to injury, all of the heroes and villains from "Secret Wars" had their memories erased from their experience there and went back to where they were originally as if the Secret Wars never happened. Since only Spider-Man remembered, when he'd meet the Fantastic Four back on Earth, they wouldn't even remember meeting him and teaming up with him! Ugh. Granted, there was a nasty habit back then of not letting other Marvel super heroes guest star on each other's shows when they were still on the air. Note the lack of pairing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk when both had TV shows on rival networks airing at the same time as proof. In fact, Spider-Man was forbidden from being used as a guest star on all Marvel animated series, including "X-Men", which is surprising since that show aired on the same network Spidey did! Even so, I'm sure the creators of the show must have had a heck of a time with the various problems this animated series had. And regretfully, we never got to see a real Spider-Man/Fantastic Four team-up on this show in an episode all its own.
GUEST HERO(ES) AND VILLAIN(S) I WISH HAD NOT BEEN ON THIS SHOW:
Dr. Strange, Wong, Dormammu (pictured below), and Baron Mordo
Okay, so I'm sure people would say that Rocket Racer or the Spot might be a better fit, but they're the obvious selections. After the overexposure that Morbius got, I almost listed him, but I actually like the character. So instead, I decided to go for a different candidate, and the result is a four-way tie. To my surprise, and probably you the reader I'm sure, I really like these characters. In actuality, Dr. Strange is actually a pretty cool hero and he's known as the Sorcerer Supreme. But that doesn't mean he was a right match for a Spider-Man cartoon. I mean, does anyone really list the "Doctor Strange" episode as their all-time favorite of this series? Or think that we needed to see Spider-Man cross paths with mystical characters? Vampires and alien costumes are one thing, but interdimensional beings and sorcerers are quite another. Having Mary Jane join a cult in the third season's premiere episode, where she gets brainwashed and can fly as well as shoot laser beams from her eyes like her fellow cult followers, is just weird. And having Spider-Man team up with Dr. Strange to get her out was just, to be honest, a waste of 22 minutes. We could've had a better story for the season premiere and we also could've had better characters than Dr. Strange, Strange's sidekick Wong, Dormammu and his minion Baron Mordo. As cool as the late voice actors John Vernon (Dr. Strange) and Tony Jay (Baron Mordo) were voicing the characters, their characters just aren't that interesting. Hearing Strange say incantations kind of made it seem like he was making up some of his abilities as he went along to keep from losing the fight. Got a mystical bolt coming at you? Just say aloud you need to summon the Seven Rings of O-M-G or whatever, and BAM! You're safe with said Seven Rings floating around you. Worse yet, Strange's episode not only sets up the unnecessary return of Dormammu and Mordo later that season, but it also introduces easily the worst guest hero on the show: Madame Web. Even so, Madame Web's purpose on this show was to prepare Spider-Man for his greatest challenge. Dr. Strange's purpose on this show was to get an episode devoted to him and serve as a possible back-door pilot for his own animated series. Way to go, Doc.
STORY I WISH HAD BEEN ADAPTED IN THE ANIMATED SERIES:
"CREATURES STIRRING" (BASED UPON "THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN", VOL. 1, #173)
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- Last Updated 8/01/2016