Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nature vs. Nurture

Season: 1
Episode Number: 13
Season Episode Number: 13
Production Number: 113
Airdate: June 24, 2008

Writer: Kevin Hopps
Director: Victor Cook

Voices: Josh Keaton (Spider-Man), Lacey Chabert (Gwen Stacy), Vanessa Marshall (Mary Jane Watson), Alanna Ubach (Liz Allen), Joshua LeBar (Flash Thompson), Phil Lamarr (Rand Robertson), Grey Delisle (Stacy Avril), Kevin Michael Richardson (Tombstone), Benjamin Diskin (Venom), Dorian Harewood (Doc Bromwell), Deborah Strang (Aunt May Parker), Clancy Brown (Captain George Stacy).

Plot: The black alien symbiote has bonded with Eddie Brock and they share a hatred for Peter Parker. They plan to attack the people closest to Peter, starting with Aunt May and Gwen Stacy!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): The whole first season of Spectacular Spider-Man has been building to this moment! Starting with the third episode where Eddie first starts to think twice about his friendship with Peter, Eddie's decent into madness has been a gradual one making us truly believe that he hates Peter.

As with most of the series, I'm glad the creative team has opted to simply use the characters and write their own stories. Sticking close to the original comics usually only leads to disappointment because it's just not as good. But creating their own stories often leaves the viewer saying 'what a great take on the story'. Such is the case with this Venom story.

A few episodes ago we had a fight with the Sinister Six. It was an intense battle with Spidey kicking butt. How could you top Spider-Man fighting six of his deadliest enemies? With Spider-Man fighting his most deadly enemy of all!

The whole episode is basically one big fight scene and it is one of the best scripted and choreographed fight scenes I've seen in superhero animation. I can't imagine what it would be like to storyboard something like this! The animation has been super consistent throughout the entire season and this episode is no exception. Watching this is more fun than watching the big-budget Spider-Man movies!

While I'm a big fan of the character designs of the show, I can't say that I'm too keen on Venom's design. I like the big arms and skinny legs, but the head and mouth are designed in a way that looks awkward when animated. The tongue is always popping in and out of the mouth and the teeth seem to just get in the way of the mouth movements. I guess Venom is hard to animate if you want to include the sharp teeth and tongue, because I had the same beef with the design from the 90s Spider-Man series. Oh well. Minor detail.

The episode end off with a nice Thanksgiving dinner. In case you didn't notice, this season spans the autumn months, September to November, in Peter's first year as Spider-Man. Peter starts his school year, we see the Fall Formal, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Next season will bring us the winter months, December to February.

The relationship between Gwen and Peter has been building for some time now, even though Peter doesn't know it. It has become the case that Gwen is often sidestepped to focus on the relationship between Peter and Mary Jane. After all, the two eventually get married and have a nice long life together. But let's not forget that Gwen was Peter's first girlfriend in the comics. A fact that the writers of this series haven't forgotten.

I'm looking forward to seeing their relationship grow and how it will eventually end. Will this show dare to bring us the Death of Gwen Stacy?
DVD Releases:
  • Spectacular Spider-Man, The Complete First Season
  • Spectacular Spider-Man, Volume Four

  • Back to Episode Guide

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