We all loved cartoons as children, just a fact of life. I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t enjoyed cartoons. Today, I get to talk about one of my favorites that influenced my childhood immensely. A story that has great power and great responsibility. I am of course talking about Spider-Man. No, not the movies with Toby McGuire or the new ones with those other guys. I am talking about the 1994 animated series. A classic for me personally and the first time in my life time I got to see the world’s greatest heroes team up.
This show runs the gambit of Spider-Man lore. We don’t get the pivotal moment of him getting bit by the spider, but in all honesty does anyone want that anymore? Maybe in 1994 not everyone on the planet new Spider-man’s origins, but in 2018 after six movies across three timelines and a countless new TV programs, we all know his origin. So, Peter Parker is already Spider-Man, working for the Daily Bugle and going to college. How he gets any sleep is beyond me. He is living with elderly aunt May and deciding who to date Felicia Hardy or Mary Jane Watson. Kind of a nice life, except all the supervillains.
So, we have 5 seasons of 65 episodes. That means we need a lot of villains. While, Spider-man has a lot this show might just run through all of them. From Kingpin to Shocker to Rhino to Venom, almost every major villain from the lore of Spider-Man makes an appearance. The fact that every villain in the episodes could carry a season’s worth of story, but still come out fully flushed in a few episodes is amazing. Most of the villains return on a regular basis in new and interesting ways. Venom in particular is great as he comes in with a bang and keeps coming back for Parker. It is hard for a show to make returning villains feel fresh, but this one did every time. The cast of characters was decently sized, but felt huge because of how often you would see characters.
The show covered many arcs in Spider-Man’s history. Not his origin story, but almost every other major story and villain origin is covered. We get to see the beginning and end of Black Suit Spider-Man and the birth of Venom, the ballad of Mysterio, the creation of Doc Ock, and a whole host of other story lines. As the show progressed there were less origins stories and more full arcs. By the last season of the show we get to experience the full Secret Wars and Goblin Wars. Lot of war in the Spider-Man universe. For fans of the comic books or those who just want to see it first hand, this is the definitive experience. Even in like 6 twenty minute episodes this is the version everyone should see.
You got villains, you got epic stories, what else you missing? Epic heroes, besides Spider-Man. Obviously, Spider-Man is going to be all over the show as it is his show. Kind of goes hand in hand, but besides him there is a plethora of heroes. There are special guest appearances by Blade, Captain America, Iron Man and War Machine, Black Cat, The X-Men, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. MCU eat your heart out. This was the first time all these heroes were seen together on the TV screen. As a child this was the moment I lived for. Seeing my favorite hero, Spider-Man, meeting heroes he idolized. It was an event for all to see.
So, how does a series like this end? One that has done so much in not so long a period of time. Who is the one person Spider-Man should meet and talk to? Someone who adores Spider-Man. Someone who say created Spider-man. That is right, one of the earliest and down right emotional Stan Lee cameos is in the last episode of the show. Spider-Man meets his creator. They share a real moment as Spidy thanks him and Stan thanks him. It is really wonderful to see the character meet the man who made him. How often does that happen? Never really. Maybe, in a Stephen King book, but that is about it.
This show was amazing, better then most of the movies honestly. This was one of those touch stone cartoons that everyone in my age bracket watched. If you were born in the early 90s, this was your show. For young kids, particularly those who loved superheroes, this was like watching the TV event. One major takeaway from the show was how real Peter felt. He had hopes and dreams and feelings and was always looking to be the best version of himself possible. Christopher Daniel Barnes deserves all the awards, because his voice is the voice of Spider-Man. Just like how Kevin Conroy will always be Batman and Mark Hamill will always be the Joker, Barnes is Spider-Man. And no Toby, Andrew or Tom is going to convince me other wise.