Mysterio In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

If you were to look up nostalgia in the dictionary, it would say something along the lines of “A sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time”. If you were to ask me what nostalgia meant, I would answer “Return Of The Flying Dutchman”, baby. Way before Spider-Man: The Animated Series enthralled me as small child, I used to watch a VHS that featured two episodes of 67 Spider-Man, Return Of The Flying Dutchman and Farewell Performance and an episode of Spider-Woman where the heroine teamed up with ol’ webhead to fight mummies from outer space. This was what I watched over and over and over again as a child, to the point where the poor tape is now completely and utterly battered. Looking back through the DVD set, there are probably a handful of episodes better than Return Of The Flying Dutchman but none of them will ever top this episode for me.

For you unfortunate souls that haven’t seen it, the episode features Spider-Man investigating a disturbance on Smuggler’s Cove as the fisherman have spotted the mysterious ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman floating over the harbour each time there’s a storm. He soon realises that Mysterio would be able to project an image like that, and correctly assumes he is the one behind it. I just love it. I can’t describe it any other way and it would only be foolish to try. Mere words and bad grammar can't describe it.

The episode features a few hilarious scenes, such as Spidey belting out a tune as he sails his boat back to shore and him using his webbing to create a sword to fight off Mysterio’s clueless goons. The episode is nostalgia personified to me and I was thrilled when I was able to sit down and watch it again in 2004 in its digitally re-mastered glory.

Unfortunately, the same set also brought less pleasant memories to mind, for you see, in the second season of 67 Spider-Man, the production company behind the show went out of business, and a new producer, Ralph Bashki was brought in to take over the show’s production with what would be generously described as a shoe string budget. The small budget they had clearly went into the wrong places. The smooth, clean models were re-designed, and looked crap. I can’t describe it any other way they are simply terrible. The somewhat charming visuals of the show now just looked tacky. The colourful backgrounds now looked like a child’s finger painting, with no attempt at style or originality involved – they looked like random colours, literally thrown over a drawing. Add this to the endless minutes of stock footage, a string of the worst original villains you’ve ever seen and the fact the show had all it’s humour sucked out of it and you get a dismal low point in Marvel’s animation history.

The comic villains were replaced, with the odd exception. The Kingpin appeared in both seasons two and three and parts of the first season episodes Rhino, Where Crawls The Lizard and The Sky Is Falling where made into “new” episodes. For some stupid unknown reason, Mysterio made a final appearance in season three but… wasn’t actually Mysterio. It’s simply mind-boggling watching it. The voice actor who (excellently) portrayed Mysterio returned, but the model was changed. No longer did he have a green suit and a cape, he simply had green skin and ginger hair. Even his famous fishbowl was absent!! The strangest thing was that Spider-Man still took the piss out of him, calling him “bowl head”. The plot, and I use the term loosely, features Mysterio tricking Spider-Man into thinking he has shrunken him down to only a few small inches in size, or some nonsense. I’d sooner not bring back bad memories of the episode by remembering it, so I’ll simply quote what I said in my review of the here at Marvel Animation Age;

“I managed to make it to the end of the episode and after watching it, I've decided that I never, ever want to see it again. God, it was painful.”

Poetic, Stu, as always.

Mysterio would return to animation decades later and would have both good and had appearances. Would any of them live up to Return Of The Flying Dutchman? Is such a task possible?