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TV Review: The Ultimate Spider-Man

In March 2012, Disney added the cartoon, “The Ultimate Spider-Man”. Since I am a huge Spidey fan, I added it to my DVR. I have always enjoyed the various Web Head cartoon in the past from the Original Spider-Man (1967) cartoons to Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends to Spider-Man The Animated Series to the Spectacular Spider-Man.  All of these brought a little different approach and I was at different stages of my life when I was introduced to them.

I will give a general overview and will not review specific episodes. This is through the first Eight Episodes.

Plot:
This series takes place in the Ultimate Universe (Universe for re-imaging the characters and telling different stories) and not in the standard 616 (normal Marvel Universe that most people have some familiarity with).  This series takes some liberties with characters from the Ultimate Universe but most cartoons based on comic books do take liberties.

The series starts about one year after Peter was bitten by the spider that gave him his powers. We are not subjugated to another retelling of Peter’s origin and Uncle Ben dying.  J.J. Jameson already disdains Spider-Man and has a mammoth screen in New York where he rants continually against the Wall Crawler.

Spider-Man is no longer a complete rookie but he does seem to have difficulty in effectively and efficiently taking down the bad guys without leaving destruction in his path. He is approached by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury to become a trainee of S.H.I.E.L.D.  After initially turning down Fury, Peter re-thinks it and agrees to join up.  Then Nick springs the news that Spider-Man will be part of a team (unnamed at this time) of young recruits including Iron Fist, Power Man, White Tiger, and Nova.  The Web Slinger is again resistant to the idea especially since Spidey has been crime fighting on his own for around a year. After the group saves the Web Head, Peter relents and agrees to join the group to help the others with his experience and so he can become better trained. This leads the rest of the group to become students at Mid-Town High School where Peter, Harry, and Mary Jane attend school with S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson taking over as Principal.

Meanwhile, Norman Osborn is intrigued with Spider-Man.  Norman has his mad scientist Doctor Otto Octavius (Doc Octopus) throw out super-villains to test Spider-Man. He steals a blood sample and creates the Venom symbiote.  So far, no appearance of Doc Ock as a criminal other than being Norman’s lap … (octopus?) and no sign of the Green Goblin.

What I liked:
The character of Peter Parker is well done in this series. They hit the right tone with his interactions in High School. They play to his insecurities and how he masks his abilities. He allows Flash Thompson to bully him still even though Peter now has the power to bully Flash. Pete’s friendships with Mary Jane and Harry is played well. I love the revision of Peter’s relationship with a revitalized Aunt May who is very vibrant in this series.

The other heroes are great.  Iron Fist is a master of Kung Fu and the special Iron Fist move but would rather find a way to resolve it peacefully. Power Man (Luke Cage) has always been a great character with his strength and invulnerability. The White Tiger is a fun character. I do really enjoy Nova but they play him a bit too slapstick.

This show has a ton of great Marvel heroes showing up as guest stars. So far, Iron Man and the Hulk have shown up. I am looking forward to seeing who else shows up.

Stan the Janitor is another one of my favorite characters. Stan the Janitor is voiced by the amazing Stan Lee. The animation is a great portrayal of Stan.  His whole role on the show is comic relief with Stan’s famous sense of humor (for anyone that remembers reading Stan’s monthly articles in Marvel comics back in the 80s).

I have to admit, I love Agent Coulson. He is a fun character in general and this show uses him for some comical relief as the Principal.

One of the constant gags on the show is the gigantic monitor with J.J. Jameson being destroyed every episode. It seems they find a new way to destroy it every week.

What I did not Like:
I have always loved Spider-Man teaming up with someone like in the Marvel Team Ups but I have never enjoyed Spidey being a member of a team.  Even though I loved Spidey and His Amazing Friends back in the Late 70 and early 80’s, it is not the same. I used to be upset with the Avengers because they would turn down his application for the team but once he joined in (now what 2 or 3 Avengers Team and the FF?), I realized the difficulty of putting him in a team book and allowing him to really shine.

When Spider-Man (or anyone on the show) becomes emotional or involved in deep thought, the character will show in anime style  I am not a fan of the anime children style where the bodies are disproportionate  and they jump up and down. It just simply annoys me with this cartoon.

Review:
I like this show, but I don’t love this show. It is fun and I will keep watching it. But the constant anime does distract and annoy me.  This series may be the “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon but it is not the “Ultimate” cartoon starring Spider-Man.

My Grade: B-

Other Reviews
IMDB: 6.4

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