Spider-Man 101

Part 4

Spidey Apocrypha

Many of us who love Spider-Man found him via the four colored funny pamphlets (i.e. comic books). I know I did and probably a lot of us who are known as "hard core" fans (or somewhat less generously, as "fanboys") probably did. However, and this may surprise some folks we die hard Spidey fans are in the minority! Many, many more people are exposed to Spider-Man through other media than the original source material (and I’m not even counting the toys and other licensed products that people see in their local Wal-Marts, Targets and Toys R Us’). In a really good month the top selling Spider-Man titles (currently Amazing, Ultimate, Sensational, and Friendly Neighborhood and various one-shot, miniseries will sell close to 300,000 copies. Of course, many of us buy multiple titles, and others buy more than one copy of certain titles, one to read and one to preserve in pristine condition. But let's stretch and say that on average 300,000 people purchase Spider-Man comics in a month. Well, in the first weekend of release alone in 2002, the original Spider-Man movie grossed $114 million domestically. Doing all kinds of crazy SWAGS that I won't bore you with by detailing, I'm guessing that at least two million people saw the film that weekend. In one weekend. And trust me - this is a very, very conservative and unscientific estimate but it’s still almost seven times the number who purchase Spider-Man comics in a month! Nearly thirty million copies of the original film on VHS and DVD (based on figures from Spider-Man Hype some time ago) were shipped to Wal-Mart and Blockbuster and Best Buy and the like, and even assuming that only half of those have sold since the release of the film - that still adds up to 15 million copies. And you can bet that each week of the run of the mid-1990's Fox Spider-Man cartoon series was seen by more than 300,000 people. Of course, this brings up the question of the economic viability of comic books and their chances for long-term survival, but that is a topic beyond the scope of this article.

There is a huge untapped potential audience of people who love Spider-Man - but don't buy the comics! So, one reason this series exists to show those folks that they can "cross over" with a minimum of difficulty, regardless of recurring Marvel propaganda that people are scared off by "high numbers," "continuity," and "progressive charactizations."

This time we're going to look at the various examples where the comic medium has been transferred to the electronic medium by examining the following:

There was also a live action Japanese series, but that is not discussed here as it has not been seen in this country, and is nothing like the comic book except the use of the name Spider-Man and the costume (although a quick scouting of You Tube will show various clips from this series). Even the secret identity of the hero was changed! I've also omitted references to Spidey's appearances on the Electric Company during the 1970's for what should be obvious reasons.

As a caveat, this article will not be a complete rundown of each series, or include episode guides, or behind the scenes info because those are covered by other websites that have been crafted by individuals who love and appreciate those series (and I have little desire to steal someone else’s hard work and original research). I have thus provided links at the end of my discussion of each show to those sites. Also, this is not intended to be a review of the Spider-Man films since I've already articles devoted to them - which you can find at Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. We'll look at these series from a couple of perspectives (1) how faithful they were to the core mythology established in the comic books, and (2) whether or not they were entertaining, which at the end of the day, is probably what really counts.

Now, a caveat I need to make is that this article does not discuss ALL additional media in which Spidey has appeared. Author Keith R.A. DeCandido, who was no less than the editor of the Spider-Man book series, as well as the writer of two Spidey novels himself, pointed out that by omitting references to the books, that I was misleading in stating that this article was about the other media in which Spidey has appeared. Well, the omission was deliberate - but not as the result of a slight or indifference. Here's the problem - except for two (including Goblin Moon which I reviewed), counting the very first one that was released back in 1978 (yes, I was old enough that I read it when it first came out - now let me be or I'll gum you) - I haven't even read the Spider-Man novels. Why? Well, it's the two old culprits to any man's endeavors - time and money. I don't read nearly as much as I would like anyway - which is actually one reason why I gravitated back to comics in a big way in my late 30's - because as a result of all of the technical reading I do at work - I'm a little fried - and reading comics is a good way to satisfy the reading for enjoyment itch without expending a great deal of mental effort (although I don't like going to the extreme of say, Ultimate Spider-Man - which I can get through during the average trip to the john). So, I'll just have to do a mea culpa and move on.

When I was much younger, I expected every single interpretation of Spider-Man to follow the source material faithfully, without exception. As years passed, those expectations changed as I realized that "re-interpretation" is inevitable in the transition from one medium to another. The sheer volume of Spider-Man stories over the last 40 years also makes a literal interpretation impossible. For example, in the Spider-Man movies, just to have Mary Jane, and Harry and Norman Osborn in the first film required a re-interpretation of the original canon because Peter did not meet any of those three until he started college, almost 3-4 years after the series debuted. Also, two of Peter's significant loves in the comic books, Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy, were skipped over in favor of Mary Jane Watson in the movie, even though Peter and MJ didn't start dating seriously until after Gwen's death more than a decade after the series began. So, without even trying, we've noted several major continuity changes made by the producers in order to tell a coherent, compact story featuring as many of the comics characters as possible, and including both an adventure and an origin tale, yet still fitting it within a two hour time frame - with the objective of entertaining other people besides the hard core Spidey fans. After all, remember those numbers we discussed earlier? No movie, particularly a special effects laden film, is going to succeed if only 300,000 people see it, no matter how many times they see it. 300,000 folks paying $10 bucks a crack to see the Spidey film ten times still winds up with only a $30 million gross.

Also, as much as many of us love the original source material - do we really want a 100% literal re-telling of the comic books? Or do we want to see how creative the writers and producers and actors can be with the source material by tweaking it - yet - and this is key - remaining faithful to the spirit of the original stories?

But, of course, there's a big difference between making a change that helps tell a good story within the limitations of the medium, and making a change because of either laziness, refusal to do one's research, or simple lack of respect for the source material. Likewise with budgetary limitations - just because a series looks cheesy, as long as the producers did the best they could do with the money and time given, I try not to be too judgmental. Again, however, where there's sloppiness, carelessness or sheer wastefulness involved, then the gloves are off.

So - I don’t go into a Spider-Man series expecting a literal translation of the comics. And with that said...

1960’s animated series
This was the very first visual representation of Spider-Man, which began in 1967 on American network television. And because it was the first, it was by far the most primitive, but also in some corners, the most beloved. Unlike most of the other series', however, it made a lasting contribution to Spider-Man lore.

I vacillate between calling this show a delightfully cheesy and guilty pleasure, or crap on a stick. It's probably both. I firmly believe that this series would be largely forgotten if it were not for that jazzy theme song. After all, how many different animated series of Batman and Superman have there been? And who remembers them all? How many people who aren’t die-hard Spidey fans know how many animated Spider-Man series there have been? But everyone, even non comic book or superhero fans, knows “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can….” It's also notable that the voice talent, all Canadian, is the same as that in the classic Rankin-Bass Christmas animated feature "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

The stories themselves are most definitely a mixed bag, primarily the result of two different production companies handling the series. The first year was comprised of typically 10-15 minute stories packed two to an episode that largely featured Spidey's classic villains. Most are watchable – with some even following the original comic book stories relatively close, such as Spidey’s first meetings with the Lizard, Mysterio, and the Spider-Slayers (other than Spencer Smythe being mysteriously renamed "Henry" Smythe). Some of the villains' portrayals were close to the mark, such as Doc Ock (always at his mad scientist best), Electro (hard to screw up a guy who shoots electricity out of his body), and the Kingpin (once a fat, bald crime lord, always a fat, bald crime lord). Some are out of whack, but not offensively so, such as a "Charles Cameo" being the face changing fiend rather than the Chameleon. But conversely there are others that are horribly off key – such as the Green Goblin, who in this series is portrayed as little more than a petty crook who spends two of his three appearances trying to obtain magic powers and talks to ghosts!

Of course, one reason the first season episodes are watchable is the stories are short and don't have a lot of time in which to go lame, which is true of most of the episodes that featured "original" villains.

However, the company that producted the first season went bankrupt and the last two seasons were produced by a company run by animation legend Ralph Bakshi. The series shifted from two to one story per episode, and began with an almost flawlessly (in a relative sense) faithful adaptation of the origin story, but soon went off the cliff with really weird-ass adventures like Spidey fighting giant plants, seed pods, ghastly mutated crime figures, marauding aliens, and a giant rampaging snowman. Bakshi borrowed heavily from his other cartoon series Rocket Rocket Hood, and as production deadlines loomed, extensively reused footage from earlier episodes to create "new" (in name only) shows. And the backgrounds - yeesh - those looked like they were created by people in the middle of an LSD trip. Well, it was the 1960's. The original villains that were largely used during these two years were dopey with monikers to match, such as Doctor Von Schlick (probably in need of a shave), Baron Von Rantenraven (yeah, he was nuts), Super Swami, the Scarf(not to be confused with those deadly villains the Earmuff, the Sweater and the Wool Lined Glove), and three villains with an extremely irritating laugh who were actually the same villain just slapped into three slightly different stories (although at least in one the animators drew a fin on his head so he'd look like an "Atlantean").

Of course, in a series with episodes often comprised of two separate adventures in a thirty minute time period, there is no character development, and not much use of Spidey’s supporting cast beyond J. Jonah Jameson and Betty Brant, with Aunt May showing up very rarely. When Bakshi took over and started telling longer tales, there were modest attempts to present Peter's inner conflict at being Spider-Man, with his responsibities as a superhero resulting in a miserable personal and love life. Still, other than a brief appearance by Mary Jane, most of Peter’s romantic interests are nondescript females ("Sonia" comes to mind - and no - no relation whatsoever to the red-haired barbarian) who did not appear in the comic. Oddly enough, while Captain George Stacy makes two appearances, his daughter Gwen, Peter’s tragic love, does not, even though she was still alive in the comics at the time – and additionally, Mary Jane is shown to be Captain Stacy’s niece! Harry Osborn, Peter’s best friend is a no show, not only here, but also in several other animated series! Maybe that weird Osborn hair was too much of a challenge for animators in those days.

Needless to say, this series deviated far from the comic at times, but even at its most absurd, it wasn’t the worst offender in Spidey media. In fact, it even has something of an excuse in that when it debuted in 1967, Spidey really wasn’t that old, and his impact on American popular culture was not nearly as pervasive as it is currently to where virtually everyone has heard of him. There was likely no disingenuineness on the writers’ part in matching him up against absurd sci-fi villains, since that’s what superheroes of the day usually battled in Saturday morning cartoons. And besides, it’s not like the comics themselves were immune from stupid villains and situations.

The primitive animation also makes the series a chore to watch at times. While some strict budgetary limitations are to be expected (other superhero cartoons from the 60’s don’t show a whole lot of “animation,” either, and some were much worse. Check out the 1960's Hulk cartoon, where the animators literally cut out Jack Kirby's art and added only the most basic movement, such shifty eyes and the occasional dropping jaw), the producers of this show still took it to the extreme. In most cases the rest of Spidey’s webs outside of his mask weren’t even drawn. And there are certain scenes so repetitive, such as Spidey swinging across the city, Spidey swinging into the camera from the left, Spidey attaching himself to a building, or swinging from a flagpole, that the show would probably only have been a third as long without them. Examples like this stretch even the most understanding viewer's patience.

In summary, I find the first season watchable, and the last two seasons intolerable. I used to run those to put both my son (and myself) to sleep in the evenings. Still, this series is what it is – and in contrast to the nonexistant releases of some of the other animated series, and the excruciatingly parsimonious release of the 1990's Fox animated series (I'll talk about some of the "unofficial" availability later), Buena Vista (aka Disney) video released all of this series on DVD for about 60 bucks in the summer of 2004. These were remastered and cleaned up versions, superior to the grainy stuff most of us watched as DVD extras or VHS releases over the years. Fortunately, I was able to pick up the series brand new at Sam's Club for less than $40, and that was still a lot of money for what is essentially a below average effort. But what is really inexcusable is the complete lack of extras, such as commentary, or interviews with the surviving voice talent or animators so that least the show's quality, or lack thereof, could be placed in the proper context of the times and the costs.

If you want to know more about this series – then you need to check out Kevin McCorry’s 1960’s Spider-Man site. He’s done a lot of solid research and provides some good information about the making of this series. There was also a website at one time that featured audio of Paul Soles (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) discussing various aspects of the show, how he was cast and talking about the other actors, but I can no longer find the link. Anyone?

1981 syndicated animated series
Probably the least seen and least well known of all of the animated series. It lasted only one season with 26 episodes, and was syndicated. While it was superior in virtually every respect to the 1960’s cartoon, since it didn’t have a jazzy theme song, nor did it appear regularly on a network, it is largely forgotten except by the die-hards.

Although the series run was much briefer, it made a little better use of Spidey’s supporting cast, including more appearances by Aunt May, along with Betty Brant, Jolly Jonah, and even Joe Robertson. The choice of Betty as Peter’s girlfriend in this series was interesting as Peter had not dated her in the comics for more than a decade. It’s not surprising that Gwen Stacy was skipped, considering that she had been dead for several years in the comics, but Peter had actually been dating Mary Jane for some time.

The series used several of Spidey’s classic villains, who for the most part stayed in character, although there was still the tendency to create goofy original villains with uninventive names (such as the Gadgeteer and Professor Gizmo). Strangely enough, Dr. Doom was the featured villain in six, count ‘em, six episodes. And he wasn’t even a Spidey villain! Well, maybe he was just a lot more fun to draw. Still, someone was reading the comic book at the time, because there was even an appearance in this series by the Black Cat, who had only debuted in the comics a couple of years prior to the debut of this series.

Selected episodes made it to VHS several years ago, and you can still find some of their sun bleached boxes in the kids section of your local Blockbuster, and a few of them will make their way to TV again when ABC Family (Disney again, natch) schedules programming to take advantage of the publicity surrounding the release of each Spider-Man motion picture.

And for more details, including an episode guide, check out the web site called The 1981 Spider-Man Cartoon Webpage.

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
At least the series wasn’t quite as dumb as the title. The premise is that Spider-Man teams up with X-Man Iceman and a new mutant (not a "New Mutant" as in one of the 3,000 X-Men related titles, but a "mutant that hadn't even appeared in the comics") by the name of Firestar to fight crime, all the while living in Forest Hills with Peter’s Aunt May (and the old bat never suspected a thing).

Now, you have to remember, I was a 70’s kid, and one of the notable superhero cartoons of the decade was “Superfriends,” which included the core members of the DC Universe (Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman) teamed up with teenagers Wendy and Marvin and their dog, WonderDog. Yeah and it was every bit as stupid as it sounds. Supposedly the Justice League was fighting crime and evil, but really were just starring in heavy handed environmental-flavored object lessons, as if Al Gore was the series' story editor. The heroes were not really superheroes, but meddling do-gooders and oppressive, self-righteous parental figures. The villains were not really "bad," just misunderstood and misguided, only needing a sharp lecture from Superman or a spanking from Wonder Woman (very popular with the male villains) to steer them on the right path. “Gosh Superfriends, you’re right – what a dumb idea it was to shrink people as a solution to the overpopulation problem,” “Gee whiz Superman, you’re right, we shouldn’t have moved the Earth closer to the Sun to increase the surface temperature so our people could migrate to this planet. We promise we won’t do it again.” Turn to the left and heave. So you can see why I avoided a show that also became known as "The Spiderfriends." I thought it would be too saccharine for my tastes, and also, being the snobby Spider-Man purist that I was at the time, I knew there was no way that Spidey could join a team (this was more than 20 years before the "New Avengers"), and it was an even larger stretch to believe that he would reveal his secret i.d. to anyone and say “hey – let’s play together,” (but I suppose if you don’t accept the premise, then you have no show) particularly in a series that seemed like a teenage pajama party and featured another stupid dog (named Miss Lion. No, I don't know why there was a stupid dog in this series. At least she didn't wear a cape like WonderDog). Also, at the time Firestar wasn’t even a real Marvel heroine – she had been invented solely for this series (she also was a little controversial at the time. In earlier episodes, she was a well-developed young woman. But the network censors apparently believed that the young boys of early 1980’s America were too young to learn of the existence of - gasp - WOMENS' BREASTS - and she was toned down).

Looking back, I was probably a little too hard on the series. 20 years later, I still have little use for it, as it gives me a number of cringe-inducing moments, but many who saw it on NBC at the time fondly remember it, and I can see why. Improbable as it seemed, there was decent character interaction between Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar, and you really felt that these three genuinely cared about each other. While the Human Torch would have made a better male counterpart due to the good-natured friction and competition between him and Spidey – Iceman didn’t work out too badly. Still, considering that Frank Welker, probably one of the most prolific voices in animation, voiced Bobby Drake, I still can’t help but hear Freddie Jones from Scooby Doo. “Scoob – you and Spidey go after Dr. Octopus, while me and Firestar go down into the basement and look for clues.”

“Right Robby – Rey! Romething’s rishy rere!”

Although there were actually fewer episodes (24) produced for this series than for the syndicated series (26) that debuted around the same time, the notoriety of “the Spiderfriends” far eclipses that series. In fact, it actually lives on in the "real" Marvel Universe as Firestar made the leap from the animated show to the comic books as a member of the "New Warriors," a series that lasted for about six or so years in the 1990's. She also made a prominent appearance in one of the all time greatest Spidey wankfests called Maximum Carnage.

Many of Spidey’s classic villains appear in this series, as well as several other Marvel superheroes in guest starring roles. Other than Aunt May, however, Spidey’s other supporting cast members are virtually no-shows – but in a series that featured three superheroes, there probably wasn’t room for them anyway.

Still, there were a few glitches where someone was asleep at the switch. In one episode, Peter falls in love with a comely female visitor from the future. At episode’s end, Pete decides that he is so smitten with her that he decides to follow her to the future without so much as a second thought or a goodbye to Aunt May! Just how do you suppose Bobby and Angelica Jinx, er, Jones, would explain this to Aunt May? "Peter? Who's Peter?" Fortunately, when he and his new babe arrive in her particular future, we learn that it is such a pristine one that Peter is informed that he will have to spend months in quarantine because he has germs (I'm not making this up). So, he tucks in his tail (and something else that he was thinking with rather than his brain) and comes back to the present. Still, such a decision seemed awfully hasty for the angst ridden and responsibility driven Peter Parker.

Several years ago a small handful of episodes made their way to VHS, but for some reason Disney hasn't seen fit to release the rest of them on DVD or video.

A tribute to this series is included at the website Spider-Friends.Com.

1990's Fox animated series
Until the motion picture, this was probably the most faithful rendering of Spider-Man in the visual media. This animated series was far superior in virtually every aspect to all of the others, including the quality of storylines, the faithful use of characters, the animation, and the selection of voice talent. Not that more than a few liberties with continuity weren’t taken. I think the best way to describe this series is that it took the elements of Spider-Man’s continuity, tossed them high in the air, and broadcast them in the order and combination in which they came down. Obviously, it wasn’t a faithful representation of Spider-Man’s chronology, but it was a faithful representation of Spider-Man’s character. A number of stories and events were lifted directly from the comic books, while others were completely invented for the series – sometimes actually improving the original material, many times not. Still, as long as I kept my expectations modest, I enjoyed seeing the different spin that show’s creators would take on the series. In fact, that was actually part of the fun, to compare and analyze the similarities AND the deviations. So, enjoy the series – but don’t take it as the Spidey gospel.

The voices were very well cast. Christopher Daniel Barnes, probably best known as Greg Brady in the “Brady Bunch” parody movies, was perfect as Peter Parker, forever moping about the complexities that being Spider-Man added to his life – although whenever he had to simulate anger or rage, it did seem painfully forced. Ed Asner’s growling and snarling as J. Jonah Jameson, with the occasional glimpses of humanity and compassion, was also a perfect match. Whenever I see the Kingpin, I always hear veteran character actor Roscoe Lee Browne’s voice.

The series was the first to use most of Spider-Man’s supporting cast to good effect. Harry Osborn, for example, shows up for the first time in this series.

As far as the villains go, the series relied exclusively on Spidey’s classic villains and even some not so classic ones – like the Big Wheel – remembered only by the die-hards (a shame they couldn’t have found room for the Hypno Hustler) and didn’t insult us with home made villains with dumb powers and even dumber names. Now, origins were a little mangled here and there, with one of the most unnecessary deviations making Electro the son of Captain America’s arch nemesis the Red Skull. On the other hand, the origin of Venom in the series was much better than the comic. Here, the symbiote attached itself to a returning space shuttle, and future host Eddie Brock worked for the Daily Bugle where there was already existing bad blood between him and Peter Parker. Therefore, the motivations of the resulting supervillain made a hell of a lot more sense and Spidey didn't have to travel to an alien planet to find a new costume. Although, this series still did a variation of that crappy Secret Wars comic mini-series from the 1980's.

Probably the most serious deviation vis a vis the villains was the order of appearance of the Green Goblin and the HobGoblin. In the comic books, Norman Osborn is the original Green Goblin, who later dies (well, for about 23 years before he comes back), is succeeded by his son Harry, and after that a mysterious stranger finds the old Goblin equipment and dubs himself the HobGoblin. In this animated series, Norman Osborn actually creates the HobGoblin, who is later revealed to be mercenary Jason Phillip Macendale (in the comics the second HobGoblin – thereby skipping the whole Roderick Kingsley/Ned Leeds intrigue "who was the real first HobGoblin" subplot chronicled in my series Squandered Legacy - The Rise and Fall of the HobGoblin . Kingsley wasn’t used in the animated series for the simple reason that HobGoblin Lives had not been written when the series went into production). It isn’t entirely clear just why this order reversal happened – one report indicated that a lot of preproduction work overseas, which took place before some of the scripts were finalized, had already featured the HobGoblin, and it would have been too expensive to scrap that work. Perhaps it’s just as likely that since the HobGoblin was appearing regularly in the comic books and the Green Goblin wasn't (at least as a villain), it was decided to feature him prominently in the animated series. Therefore, Norman Osborn doesn’t actually become the Green Goblin until later in the series.

Two of the episodes with the Green Goblin – “Goblin War” and “Turning Point,” (which just so happen to be available on the Return of the Green Goblin DVD) were among the best of the series, and were surprisingly intense and dramatic for Saturday morning. It actually incorporates three classic Spidey/Goblin storylines, Amazing Spider-Man #39, where the Green Goblin first discovers Spider-Man’s secret identity, Spectacular Spider-Man #2 (the original 1960's magazine version) where Norman Osborn throws a party and tantalizes the guests with "secret" information about Peter Parker, and of course, Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, with Mary Jane substituting as the kidnapped damsel in distress rather than Gwen Stacy, who yet again fails to make an appearance in a Spider-Man series, save for the last episode in an alternate reality. Of course, this being the non-violent Saturday morning version of Spider-Man, neither Mary Jane nor Norman Osborn die, but are just lost in "limbo." What's interesting is that fans of the classic Spider-Man series, the Ultimate Spider-Man series, and the first Spider-Man motion picture should see enough similarities in "Turning Point" to follow this episode with no difficulty as some of the plot elements, particularly the Goblin and MJ at the bridge, are the same.

As mentioned before, since this was a Saturday morning TV series, and Fox had already taken a lot of heat from people who didn't have near enough in life to worry about, over the "violence" in some of its other offerings, such as Power Rangers, the show was painfully censored, meaning that nobody could get killed, none of the cops or bad guys carried guns (rather, they just fired lasers at each other. Really.) and even what fighting there was consisted mostly of glorified karate chops and girlie slaps and no real good old fashioned knuckle-busting and bloodletting.

Among some other key differences from the comics included Felicia Hardy being a part of Peter Parker's life outside of their dual roles as Spider-Man and the Black Cat. In fact, in this series, they never disclose their identities to each other nor become romantically involved! Bummer. The Kingpin is a constant and menacing presence throughout, whereas in the comics he is more Daredevil's foe and rarely menaces Spidey anymore, and Doctor Octopus was one of Peter Parker's science teachers from way back, among others. I frankly didn't care for the prominence that Morbius the Living Vampire, one of my least favorite Spidey villains, had in this series, and the fact that he and the Black Cat spend more "quality time" together than the Cat and Spidey! The latter part of the 5th and final season also veered off into a sci-fi direction that doesn't really suit Spidey, and it ended with Spidey looking for Mary Jane in limbo - but that's where it ended - without him finding her (the show's producers apparently thought they were coming back for one more year but Fox pulled the plug). Still, of all of the Spider-Man animated series, while obviously not perfect (but what is?), THIS is the one most worth your time and investment.

For some strange reason, Disney is only piece-meal releasing episodes of this series with just a third of the total 65 shows currently available.

For more information on this series, start with DRG's Spider-Man The Animated Series web site, which has a complete episode guide, an interview with one of the creators, and interesting and little known facts about the production of the series.

Spider-Man Unlimited
Good heavens, what were they thinking? Sci-Fi Spidey in Outer Space? Even Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space was a less absurd concept. Wait – you don’t remember that one – Josie and the Pussycats – female rock band in one animated series (no, not that stupid, brain dead tits and ass movie from a few years ago) – followed by a Lost in Space redux? No? Damn – I am so old.

The few who may actually have seen this series won’t need this rehash – but the series was pulled after only three episodes into its debut in the fall of 1999 because it was getting crushed in the ratings by Pokemon (yes - mother-friggin Pokemon, which probably should have really been called Another Overlong Toy Commercial Designed to Make Kids Plead for Parents to buy Them all Sorts of Worthless Crap) on another network. The final ten episodes only aired years later to coincide with the debut of the first motion picture, so I doubt anymore than a dozen people saw all 13 episodes.

The premise of this series was that those wild and wacky symbiote brothers, Venom and Carnage, hijack a shuttlecraft piloted by J. Jonah Jameson’s astronaut son, John and crash it on Counter-Earth, an Earth-like world on the other side of the sun (which was a Marvel invention of a few decades ago). Later, John is able to transmit a call for help from Counter-Earth, which Spidey feels compelled to respond to, since his old symbiote sparring buddies are involved. Our hero works with Reed Richards to design a high tech super suit that can do all sorts of cool things (like turn invisible), and hijacks his own shuttle (one just happened to be conveniently double-parked on the launching pad) to Counter-Earth. When he gets there, he finds out that this world is governed by a dictator known as the High Evolutionary (kind of a Marvel version of Dr. Moreau) who has created races of human animal hybrids (called the Bestials) that dominate the regular human population, who are second-class citizens on this world. John Jameson is now leading a human resistance group, and he and Spidey team up to not only fight the Bestials and the High Evolutionary and bring truth, justice, and the American way to Counter-Earth, but also to try to find a way back home (Spidey's shuttle was destroyed upon landing on Counter Earth - and John's was impounded by the Evolutionary).

Since the show tanked so badly in the ratings, only one season of 13 episodes were made, and the first season ended on a cliff-hanger, with Counter-Earth on the verge of annihilation. Unlike the Mary Jane cliffhanger in the previous animated series, no one seemed to clamor for a resolution. It didn’t even last long enough to inspire an action figure.

I actually don't mind Spidey having funky new threads every now and then. Frankly, with his genius and imagination, and the way he and the Fantastic Four trade favors, I've always been surprised that he hasn’t (the Iron Spider notwithstanding) – but those are the vagaries of marketing and product identification, which demand that the Hulk be green rather than gray (even though some of the best Hulk stories told featured a gray Hulk), and why Batman always has a teenage Robin the Boy Wonder, as weird and perverse as that seems.

But Spidey mixing it up with half human, half animals on an alien planet is not really Spidey. It’s a character with that name, but it’s not really him. With the exception of very brief appearances by Jonah Jameson and Mary Jane in the first episode, Spidey’s supporting cast was largely absent (although John Jameson is a recurring character in the series, he’s really a very minor player in the comic book). Of the villains, only Venom, Carnage, and John Jameson’s alter ego, the Man Wolf appeared. There were Counter Earth versions of the Vulture and the Green Goblin – but this Goblin, a vigilante who occasionally fought on Spider-Man and the rebels’ side, and who was apparently a genetically altered human, bore absolutely NO resemblance to his regular counterpart. He was no Osborn, that’s for sure.

While none of the episodes bore any remote resemblance to any of Spidey's comic storylines, the suit from the show did make an in-continuity appearance in Webspinners #13-14 (February & March 2000). In an ill-fated attempt at cross promotion, Spidey ventures into a weird spatially distorted place called the Negative Zone (the Fantastic Four go there occasionally and kick some green winged monster ass every now and then) and is given the new costume by the resident mysterious hero "Dusk" (you may remember Dusk from the pre-reboot "Identity Crisis" and the short-lived comics series Slingers) - but alas, the new costume doesn’t survive Spidey's re-entry into the real world.

In summary, Spider-Man Unlimited is for serious die-hards and completists only. There was once an episode guide and website dedicated to this series - but it seems to have disappeared and thus I have removed the link. Your next best bet is the Wikipedia entry for Spider-Man Unlimited.

MTV computer animated series
This series debuted in 2003 amidst high anticipation and plenty of hype, augmented by the fact that it was repeatedly delayed. The premise was that this was Spider-Man 1.5, taking place not long after the events of the 2002 motion picture, and indeed, there are a number of subtle references throughout the series to the events of that film. One of the executive producers was Brian Michael Bendis, the author of the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, so it certainly promised to be worth a look (although Bendis has apparently said that other than writing the pilot episode, he had relatively little to do with the series - and that what he did write was ravaged. Apparently, according to Bendis, in television if 40% of what you write winds up on screen - that's a major success). Overall, it was an interesting venture with good potential, but some very serious flaws. Reviewing the talkback over the years, spiderfandom seems to be pretty evenly divided about the show, which ran only one season of 13 episodes.

The focus of this series was the triangle of Peter Parker, Harry Osborn, and Mary Jane Watson in their daily lives as college students at Empire State University, where they did all kinds of hip, funky things such as go to parties and hang out and drink lots of overpriced premium coffee, with Peter disappearing whenever Spider-Man was needed to fight the occasional badass (and his friends remaining blissfully clueless the entire time). Neil Patrick Harris, who will likely be tagged as "Doogie Howser," his famous teenage doctor character, for the rest of his life, was perfect as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, his voice possessing the glibness, sarcasm, introspection, and yes, healthy bouts of self-pity necessary to capture the essence of our wall crawling hero.

While Peter was appropriately angst ridden, probably the best characterization in the series was that of Harry Osborn. Now, I didn't care at all for his physical representation as a blond stud boy (and what was even weirder was seeing the portrait of a blond Norman Osborn hanging in the Oscorp boardroom. I'm sorry - I just can't accept that. Gender twist all of the characters like the change of Starbuck from male to cigar smoking female in the recent reimagination of Battlestar Galactica, but don't make Norman Osborn a blond! I can barely take disturbing images of him in Ultimate Spider-Man having - gasp! - normal looking hair). That problem aside, Ian Ziering (probably best known for his regular role in the vacuous Beverly Hills 90210 TV series) voiced a deeply troubled young man working overtime to cover up his fears and insecurities, particularly about following in the footsteps of his brilliant, famous, and dubiously ethical father, with a happy go lucky party attitude (kind of like the old comic book MJ), while clearly on the way to an alcohol addiction, as well as making some questionable romantic choices. The relationship between the three actually approximates some aspects of the original comic book Harry Osborn. As in the comics, Harry's "good friends," Peter and MJ are so wrapped up in their own lives that they don't see that his is falling apart!

Unfortunately, the weakest character of the trio was Mary Jane, voiced by singer Lisa Loeb. After working on Peter and Harry's characterizations, the writers must have punched out, as the pain and anguish of MJ's young life, captured by Kirstin Dunst in the movies, and some of the ditziness that made her appealing in the comics (well, when she was being written correctly that is), is missing here. MJ is little more than the token tits and ass damsel in distress. I mean, I like damsels in distress - but the reason Lois Lane, for example made such a great D in D was because she was so ballsy that she kept putting herself into dangerous situations that resulted in her distress and need for rescue. Saving the ladies isn't as much fun if trouble keeps finding them or they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, simply used as objects to draw the hero in.

As far as other voices, there was an interesting selection of fairly well known voices such as Gina Gershon, Michael Dorn, Jeffrey Combs, Keith David, Ethan Embry, and others. Loopy comedienne Kathy Griffin was positively chilling as a psychotic telepath in the season ending two parter. Keith Carradine, not a bad actor by any means, unfortunately gave us a hyper, motor-mouthed JJJ that was a poor attempt to recreate J.K. Simmons' take on the character. Frankly, I would much rather have had Ed Asner do Jonah again - after all - he was there providing a recurring voice as a grouchy, anti-Spider-Man police officer!

I typically loathe original characters in a Spider-Man series because I've always felt that the source material is so rich with several existing ones to chose from that the show's producers shouldn't have to invent others. But, I didn't mind Peter's new potential love interest from the television station, "Indy" the TV reporter, as much as I thought I would. Admittedly, her character was silly at times, talking too much and too fast - but this worked well when contrasted with the "burdens of the world on my shoulder" Peter Parker. In fact, this was the function that Mary Jane used to serve in the comic book! Right personality - wrong girl! Aaarrggggh.

The series had a mixture of classic and original villains, and featured two interesting variations on classics Electro and the Lizard. Although this version of Curt Connors, the Lizard's alter-ego (voiced by Rob Zombie) was much more of a hateful misanthrope than the generally good natured (well, when he's not a reptile) comic version, the animated Lizard was probably even more terrifying and deadly than his comic counterpart as the computer animation captured the frighteningly fast and fluid movements that a human reptile might very well possess. And rather than a corrupt middle aged utility lineman in the comics, Max Dillon was a college age loser who uses the power of Electro - not to go on a crime spree after dressing up in an outlandish green and yellow costume (yeah - but that does work in the comic) - but as many young people might if given such an "opportunity" - to right the wrongs others have visited upon him. The Kingpin also appeared, but rather than the rotund white dude, he was black and voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan, thus slyly matching the representation of the character in the Daredevil movie. All of these variations actually worked well within the context of this particular series. The original villains weren't bad, either, and were actually better than the lame original villains in the older animated series (although I didn't care for "Talon"). Still, I would liked to have seen updated computer generated versions of such classic villains as the Vulture and Mysterio, whom I think would have made better use of the technology. Doctor Octopus and Venom were justifiably avoided because it was likely they were going to be used in subsequent motion pictures (which is why I was suprised the Lizard showed up, since he is an oft-rumored film villain). I would have liked to have seen some Green Goblin flashbacks, but there was a limit to what 13 episodes could achieve.

As it was shown late in the evening on MTV, it was definitely more mature than the other animated offerings over the years, with some true knuckle busting, a modest amount of profanity and the occassional gruesome death (although nothing graphic was ever really shown).

A lot of people didn't like the rather clunky look and computer movements of the humans in the series. Admittedly, while watching several episodes back to back, it does become a bit annoying to see certain character models being repeatedly used (due to time and budget constraints). Still, I liked the eerie way that Spider-Man crawled (almost slithered) up the walls and bounded from building to building.

However, the glaring weakness of this show was MTV's demands that the show not feature any "old people." The series focused exclusively on Peter's college life, and as a result there was no Aunt May (who appeared only in a picture on Peter's desk), very little JJJ, no Joe Robertson, who was often used in the comic to provide Peter with a more mature perspective on matters, and most appallingly and inexcuseably almost no reference to Uncle Ben, who's murder, after all, was Peter's primary motivation for donning those ridiculous red and blues! Mary Jane casually refers to Peter's "uncle's murder" in one episode and other than his picture in the same scene with Aunt May's - that is the ONLY reference to Ben! MTV also wanted most of the villains to be young people or tied to the campus environment in some fashion. Something was lost when it was just Peter, Harry, and MJ hanging out, being hip and funky (or was that funky and hip?), and drinking overpriced premium coffee. The series was really only half of Spider-Man. It had a lot of the humor and adventure, but was missing the heart.

Still, its faults notwithstanding, this series was a worthwhile effort, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing it continue after some needed re-working. However, for unspecified reasons, MTV decided not to request a second season, although the first one left off with the cliffhanger of Peter giving up being Spider-Man and chucking his costume into the bottom of the river (and no, he never mentioned Ben during this time either)! It was likely that the ratings were not strong enough to justify the cost of the series - but considering that MTV's brain trust scheduled the series for late Friday night - when the targeted youth audience is out doing those things that targeted youths do on a Friday night - what did they expect? Instead of teenagers with discretionary income watching the show, it was comprised of a lot of old guys like me who had already blown our paychecks on things like the mortgage, credit card payments, groceries and diapers. There were persistent rumors that the series would be picked up elsewhere, and Avi Arad often talked as if a deal was pending, but nothing ever materialized.

Unfortunately, the fan site I linked to when this article was originally written no longer exists, so if you want to learn more about this series, you can either google it, or check out The 2003 Spider-Man Animated Series on Wikipedia.

The 1970’s CBS television series
Sigh. A lot of people feel this show, which starred Nicholas Hammond, and after a 1977 movie debut, ran sporadically for 13 episodes in 1978 and 1979, has been given a bum rap over the years. A lot of other people feel this show was a piece of shit and a complete waste of time. I lean to the latter.

I remember how stoked I was when this thing first debuted back in 1977. Live action Spider-Man. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, the movie was disappointing, and the subsequent years have not been kind to it. The most glaring deficiency is that the entire Uncle Ben subplot was discarded. In the movie, graduate school student Peter Parker (at least they realized that Hammond was clearly too old to be playing a high school student, unlike other shows which like to cast 25 year olds as high school students. Yes, I realize that Tobey Maguire was too old at the time of the Spider-Man film to be playing an 18 year old - but he had a gangliness and awkwardness that Hammond did not have, which allowed him to play the role younger) is bitten by a radioactive spider - and once he discovers that he can crawl on walls and do funky things - viola! - he cooks up some web shooters and a costume and decides to go out and fight crime. Ain’t that special? Just the thing I'd do if I got superpowers - go fight crime and make my personal life even more of a train wreck than it already is. The absence of Uncle Ben was inconceivable and made Spider-Man a shallow, boring one-dimensional character. Ben is more important to the Spider-Man mythos than whether or not he was bitten by a radioactive spider or a genetically enhanced spider, or whether he created his web shooters or whether they were organic. Without Ben, and Peter's guilt over the matter, there really is no Spider-Man. And then there was the lame villain, some goofball demanding money from the city or he'd have people under his devious mind control kill themselves in goofy ways, after they’ve committed silly crimes, blah blah blah - an utter waste of a flamboyant character actor in Thayer David, who chewed more than his share of scenery in the old "Dark Shadows" soap opera. For some reason, CBS only gave the Spider-Man series pilot 90 minutes, whereas the Hulk (great TV pilot, so-so series), Doctor Strange (not bad, not great, either - but the film showed promise) and Captain America ("crap" and "suck" would be generous descriptions) got two full hours for their respective origin stories - which perhaps played a role in the gutting of Spidey's motivations. So, this was our first clue that the Spider-Man TV series, rather than trying to bring a classic character to the screen in the best way possible given the natural limitations of the medium, was nothing but hackwork.

Of course, the show already had a strike against it in that shows based on adaptations of existing comic book superheroes almost universally do not fare well on live action television (the current "Heroes" which is very successful, is not based on any existing franchise). In motion pictures, larger budgets, good special effects, and their relative infrequency, can make the inherent silliness tolerable. And of course, in animation you can do much more than in live action TV, which with limited budgets, rushed production schedules, and need for the "adventure of the week," is a much more unforgiving medium. And even a show that is well done, such as CBS' "The Flash" in the early 1990's, arguably the best overall effort at marrying the comic book and television mediums, lasted only one year because the ratings weren't high enough to justify the cost of the program. "Wonder Woman," in the 1970's, lasted as long as it did probably because it took much longer for young men with no lives on a Friday night (such as myself at that time - wait a minute - I still have no life on a Friday night) to tire of looking at Lynda Carter (sigh - what a woman) than it did to tire of the insipid plots. "The Incredible Hulk," starring popular long-time television actor Bill Bixby, and produced by the talented Kenneth Johnson (the man who gave us the compelling "V" mini-series - the first one - not the botched sequel or subsequent series) is still the only true Marvel prime time television series success story, but it virtually jettisoned everything about the character, even Dr. Banner's first name (changing it from "Bruce" to "David")! But then, never underestimate the value of a great catch phrase. The “don’t make me angry - you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,” coupled with Bixby’s anguished delivery, repeated on a weekly basis for four years in the opening credits, became a pop culture line, often satirized (the ultimate compliment), and still well known more than 25 years later. More recently, "Birds of Prey" was a casualty on the WB, barely surviving its initial season even after a promising debut. "Smallville" succeeds because it essentially turned the story of Superman into something like the vomit-inducing "Dawson's Creek," although admittedly with a higher IQ and better actors.

The whole debacle of the Spider-Man TV show reminds me of the “Prime Suspect” crime series on PBS’ Mystery that was imported from England, and very popular here in the USA. It was popular for three reasons (1) the performance of the lead, Helen Mirren, (2) the quality of the writing, and (3) the gray, moody English locales gave it a distinctive look and feel. Hollywood optioned it for a movie and true to form decided that (1) the movie would not star Helen Mirren (2) they would not use any of the show’s writers and (3) the movie would be set in California, not England. O.K. - so what was the point of optioning "Prime Suspect"? Apparently, this must have actually occurred to somebody during the developmental process because the project never materialized.

The Spider-Man TV show lacked (1) his motivation for going into crime fighting (2) his entire supporting cast except for JJJ (and even then, it really wasn't JJJ - just an old grumpy guy who was called J. Jonah Jameson - he didn't even run an anti-Spider-man campaign!) (3) any of his great villains, and after the initial movie (4) any of the humor, pathos, or irony of the comic. The original movie gave Spider-Man an allergy and a few moments of humor (such as being unable to get a cab ride home and having to stow away on a garbage truck), but with the exception of one self-pitying speech in the first episode - that was all forgotten as the series continued. So why do a series called Spider-Man if you aren't going to use any of the attributes that made the character popular in the first place?

Nicholas Hammond gets blasted by a lot of folks because he didn't exactly turn in an Emmy winning performance in the role - but this is hardly fair. I think Hammond was a good choice for the role, the shaggy 70's hair notwithstanding. But Tom Cruise could have played Peter Parker and the show would still have failed because there was simply nothing to play. The plots that were used had already worn themselves out long ago on regular TV series (a show about a prison riot, another about a plot to steal the Guttenberg Bible, another with terrorists kidnapping the attractive young daughter of an unpopular foreign leader - yaaawwwwwnnn) - so they certainly were going to be underwhelming on a show about a superhero. Spidey was all too routinely beat up by average thugs, or thunked on the head and knocked out, or simply had way too much trouble disposing of your average criminal. I mean, come one, this is a guy who can pick up and toss cars, and he can't put down a brainwashed college student? That kind of crap was a real pain in the ass to watch.

As far as villains, while I didn’t really expect the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus to make an appearance, I would have expected Norman Osborn, or the Kingpin, or Silvermane, or some of the more human and down to earth villains instead of the usual lame-ass con men or thieves that bedeviled T.J. Hooker. And I would have thought they would have given him a romantic interest, or even some of his friends, from the comics. But, no, they didn't give him any of those either. The producers went to the trouble of creating a new romantic interest in rival newspaper photog by the name of Julie Masters (o.k. - so I thought actress Ellen Bry was cute - something about dark haired women) but they didn't give her a personality. So, as you can see - without much of a character written for him, and certain no decent characters to play off of - Hammond didn't have a prayer. The show barely even featured Aunt May, thus removing another one of Spidey’s connections to reality. And, in a particularly egregious moment, Aunt May refers to Peter’s “Uncle Max,” the final twist of the knife and the demonstration that whoever was writing this series didn't give a flying f**k about the character or his fans. What was also whacked is that one of the regulars in the series was JJJ’s African American secretary – o.k. - JJJ had one in the comics by the name of Gloria Grant. But on TV, she was called Rita Conway. Huh?

The closest this show came to taking anything from the comics was the episode featuring a Spider-Man clone. But he was an evil clone, because, well, he was a clone, so he had to be evil. The mad scientist involved wasn’t even Professor Miles Warren (the clone master in the comics), but a Dr. Moon! (no, he didn’t go around flashing his ass – although that might have livened the show up a bit). This was the same episode that featured Peter going to a Halloween party where half the attendees are dressed as Spider-Man - including J. Jonah Jameson! Whaaaat? Jonah wouldn't be caught dead wearing a Spider-Man costume any more than he would be wearing a tutu.

The so-called "special effects" didn't bother me too much since the producers didn't have CGI or a $200 million budget to worth with every week - but that costume! It was on the same level as that piece of crap you can get for $25 (which is NOT one size fits all - I'm telling you right now), it kept splitting apart around the shoulders (what - no seamstress on the set?) and we won't even talk about the web shooters and the belt being on THE OUTSIDE. But I think you get my drift. I’m not very forgiving of the 70’s TV show because it’s apparent to me that no one involved in its production (not counting the actors) gave a damn about the property entrusted to them, and didn’t even try to make it work. Even though the 1960’s animated series is wretched in spots, it’s apparent that someone involved with that production had at least read some of the original stories and bothered to use some of the original characters.

Although the series apparently scored modestly successful ratings, it was ultimately dumped because CBS felt it had too many superhero shows and pilots (in addition to Wonder Woman, Spidey, the Hulk, Captain America, and Doctor Stange - the network had also optioned the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner, but those never moved beyond the conceptual stage). This proved to be a mercy killing rather than a cancellation.

Still, I suppose I could calm down long enough to watch this again if it were available on DVD - but it is not available, nor is there any indication it ever will be. VHS tapes were available years ago, but now you have to go to EBay to get them. I fully expected them to be re-released at the same time as the motion picture, much like the TV series and movies of the Hulk were re-released when the motion picture of the same name came out in 2003. The only reason I can think of for it not re-appearing is that there are legal issues precluding that from happening - which considering how Marvel is suing everyone and their brother these days because it failed to negotiate better upfront deals in the first place - wouldn't surprise me.

Probably the best internet-related rundown of this series is at The Amazing Spider-Man Live Action Television Series Page .

Spider-Man: The Movies
Spider-Man fans spent more than a decade waiting for the first film due to its exile into legal limbo, the unfortunate result of the original studio that purchased the movie rights going bankrupt and selling off all of the other auxiliary rights (video, TV, etc.) for quick cash – thus taking an army of lawyers to bring all the rights together under one roof, which ultimately turned out to be Sony. Famed Terminator director James Cameron really wanted to do a Spider-Man film, and even wrote a scriptment (short for script treatment – it’s not a full script, but is more than just an outline) that virtually every spider-fan has read, and was the first place that the organic webshooters appeared. However, Cameron grew tired of waiting for the legal mess to be settled and left the project, which was probably best for both him and us, because he went on to do Titanic, and Sony hired a fellow by the name of Sam Raimi to direct Spider-Man.

I've already written a lot about the Spidey films (see Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2), which has all of my fretting and worrying about the casting and the scripts, and the Green Goblin's ridiculous Power Ranger costume, and so I would rather steer you there than repeat what I've already written.

But in a nutshell - although I thought that the scripts have each been pretty weak, the roles have been well cast (I had misgivings about James Franco's lackluster final scene as Harry Osborn in the first film, but otherwise he has done the role justice - and I like Kirsten Dunst less and less every time I see her), and these are probably about as faithful adaptations of the comic book as possible. Director Raimi clearly has a respect for the original material and made only one misstep - the organic webshooters. Although they didn't seriously mar the movies for me (fortunately they were downplayed), they just presented either an element of "ick" (Cameron first introduced the organic webbing as a not very subtle reference to masturbation) or ventures into X-Men mutant ("I'm so different from the rest of humanity" which was actually where Cameron and Raimi were originally going) territory that it would have been just as well to have had Peter Parker invent the things himself. True, not even 3M can develop such a product, but there's no such thing as the planet Krypton either (that we know of, I guess), but we were able to suspend our disbelief over that to get past it and enjoy the rest of Superman. And, I actually thought that the death of Uncle Ben was handled better in the movie than in the original comic. In the comic, Peter finds out about Ben only after he has already died. In the movie, Peter is able to connect with Ben very briefly before his death - but his guilt over letting the burglar get by him is further intensified by the fact that his last conversation with Ben is blackened by a bit of spite and immaturity on his part, which he will never be able to take back.

And then there's the cumulative $1.6 billion in worldwide theater grosses, which needs no further elaboration.

Unfortunately, not all of these series are available on VHS or DVD. The original 1960's show, the MTV series, and inexplicably, just one third of the Fox series, is available. A quick scouring of EBay, however will turn up several entrepreneurs selling complete DVD and VHS versions of all of the animated series. Some copies of the 1970's CBS series are also available from these same sources, but at last check, I didn't seen anyone selling the movie and all 13 episodes. Now, mentioning that these exist is neither an endorsement (nor a condemnation) of what they are or how they were obtained. I’m assuming that most of these were private tapings and collections that technically astute people have recorded. The quality does seem to vary and is often less than pristine. Like everything else on EBay, caveat emptor.

NEXT TIME: The Men who Made Spider-Man - a look at some of the more notable writers and artists that have contributed to the Spider-Man mythology over the last 45 years. Stan Lee's legacy is secure, but who are some of the others who have left their indelible footprint upon Spidey for the better - and those who simply stomped all over him? Go to Part 5 - The Men Who Made Spider-Man.

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Copyright © 1998-2007 The MadGoblin's Ward. All Rights Reserved. All original content is the exclusive property of the MadGoblin's Ward. Spider-Man, the Green Goblin and everyone else who appears in the Spider-Man comics is the property of Marvel Entertainment, and are used in these articles for the purpose of analysis and commentary.