Dr. Octopus In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five - Part Six

Spider-Man didnít receive his own show in the 70ís and had to settle for a few guest spots on Spider-Woman, and since none of his rouges gallery showed up in that show, weíll have to move onto Spider-Manís 1980ís cartoons to view Dr. Octopusí next animated appearance.

Marvel decided to break into the animation business in the 1980ís and believed that the best way to do this was to create their own animation studio with the dream of getting Spider-Man on network TV. Marvel funded this entire operation themselves and set up a deal to syndicate the previous 67 Spider-Man series and add new episodes to freshen the deal. So, in 1981 a new Spider-Man cartoon debuted. Taking its cue from the 67 cartoon, the show followed college student Peter Parker and his exploits as Spider-Man whilst he worked for irate publisher J. Jonah Jameson taking pictures of Spider-Man and romancing his secretary Betty Brant. The show clearly had a bigger budget than the 60ís show (what didnít?) and because the show was to be recorded in the States, the show was recast and the models were changed. So Ďofficiallyí the show is in continuity with the 67 show but they have different tones, voices, models so itís pretty much a completely different show.

Going back to the models, they were a big improvement on all fronts. The show managed to translate the legendary artwork of John Romita Sr. nicely, with simple, clean models that animated fairly well. Spider-Man himself looked especially great, not too bulky but not too skinny either. Iím a sucker for Romita Srís work so I admit to being biased but I think that the Romita look works well in animation. With Spider-Man coming to DVD again next year, I wouldnít be upset if they went down this route again Ė hell, Iíd probably be thrilled.

The story is typical of the 80ís but still really enjoyable. I donít remember a whole lot about this show but this particular episode revolves around Dr. Octopus stealing things in order to make his tentacles more powerful. Ockís design is quite snazzy, I actually really like the black and orange colouring, it fits better than the green one suit of the comics. Thereís a few typical 80ís stuff in here the biggest one being Ockís submarine looking like it came straight from a toy shelf from Toys R Us. The episode isnít especially memorable but itís entertaining enough. Itís a shame the show never really went into the origins of itís villains, I think it wouldíve helped a lot of the episodes and Doc Ock is no exception.

The good Dr would appear once again in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends in a bit role but he would have a long wait ahead of him. Whilst Octavius was the first villain to be animated in both previous Spider-Man shows, he didnít appear until season three of Spidey friends! Spider-Man Meets The Girl From Tomorrow features Spidey falling in love upon sight with some bird from the future (itís not just a clever title folks) and helps them rebuild their spaceship. He later decides to leave everything behind and swan off this girl until her Father tells him that heíll pretty much kill their entire planet because heís none of them have the anti-bodies theyíd need to survive around him. The episode is perhaps best known for the small kiss Spider-Man and Firestar share after he decides to leave. Such a sweet little moment. Doc Ock does bugger all in the episode really. He is voiced by the legend that is Michael Bell, so they get bonus points anyway!

By far the greatest animated appearance of Dr. Octopus in the 80ís was oddly enough in The Incredible Hulk and oddly enough, he once again appears in the first episode in production order! Anyone whoís read any of the previous retrospectives Iíve done will no doubt be aware that I think The Incredible Hulk is the balls but if you want more on that, check out the Hulk retrospective (I warn you, I rattled on for some time). The episode in question sees Dr. Banner randomly changing into The Hulk due to radiation being emitted from Gamma base. Bell once again returns to voice Doc Ock, as of course, he voices Bruce Banner in the show to begin with. The show didnít have that many memorable villains and Doc Ock probably stands amongst the best of them. In a rather amusing scene, The Hulk ties Ockís tentacles together to defeat him and Ock is shown still struggling to untangle them in prison in the epilogue.

Given that he appeared in all three Marvel shows that Marvel produced in the 80's, he could be considered one of the biggest villains of the decade. None of the appearances were especially brilliant, but considering the time the shows aired we were lucky he wasn't completely butchered. Networks were notoriously fickle about supervillains in the 1980's, most of them were demanded to be comic relief rather than truly threatening. Thankfully, Ock's next animated appearance faired better.