Mysterio In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

With Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men introducing Saturday morning audiences to a much more sophisticated level of entertainment come the early 1990ís, expectations were high for Spider-Man: The Animated Series debut, and the November sneak peek airing of Night Of The Lizard drew unprecedented ratings in itís timeslot. The show returned to air in February and continued to draw huge ratings and decent reviews from the critics. The pressure was on behind the scenes though, as several people each had different views on what they wanted the show to be and the first season was especially difficult to get moving.

The Spider-Man movie, to be directed by James Cameron and featuring Spider-Man battling Electro and Sandman meant that the creative werenít allowed to start with Spider-Manís origin so they simply had Peter already be in college and each time a supervillain appeared, it would be their first meeting with the web slinger (like The Batman is now).

Mysterio makes his debut in the early part of the first season in an episode called The Menace Of Mysterio, which is the same title for his debut in the 60ís show.

I remember really looking forward to seeing Mysterio on the show. I knew a small amount about a handful of the villains before the show premiered (Mysterio, Doc Ock and Venom being the prominent ones). The episode in question is pretty much just an update version of the 60ís episode, which in turn, was almost a carbon copy of Amazing Spider-Man #13. The real difference is that this episode introduces an original character to the mix Ė Detective Terri Lee, a cop who believes Spider-Man is innocent and that someone is out to frame him for these robberies. Iím not sure why they decided to go down the original route with this character but I saw no harm in it Ė it just meant we had a recurring cop character rather than just some nameless bloke in a uniform every time the police were involved in the episode.

Thereís also something more than a little different about this version of Mysterio Ė heís much, much more bitter than Iíve ever seen him which I think works wonderfully. He blames Spider-Man for his downfall and becomes obsessed with revenge against Spidey and wants to be the one responsible for Spider-Manís downfall, one he would like to make as embarrassing as possible.

Mysterio is looking great here. Itís not quite the costume from the comics but itís certainly inspired by it. Everything is there Ė the green bodysuit, the fishbowl and the purple cape but the boots, gloves and belt look a little different. I actually really like the design; I donít have any complaints towards it. The casting is superb, Greg Berger brings a great amount of bitterness to the role and a booming effect was added to his voice whenever he wore the fishbowl that I thought sounded great. It added a certain theatrical element to the villain.

The episode itself looks stunning. TMS outdid themselves them here as everything simply pops on screen, whether itís the fight on the bridge, the smoke that surrounds Mysterio whenever he makes his presence felt and even Spider-Manís complicated model. Add this to a great musical theme for Mysterio and you have a very memorable villain on your hands.

He, like most of the villains from the first season would go on to join the Insidious Six in an attempt to stop Spider-Man once and for all. Unfortunately, as expected when you have six supervillains, the Kingpin, Hammerhead and Silvermaine all struggling for airtime with a powerless Spider-Man, Mysterio wasnít given much to do other than be part of a clog in the machine that was the episodes fight scenes. As one of the original Sinister Six, he did deserve to be included though, and it was great to see him again. Oddly enough, they dropped the really cool booming effect on his voice that was found in The Menace Of Mysterio. Most of his lines were movie based puns, which was something different. Unlike most puns, they didnít really sound that corny either.

He would make his final appearance in animation as one of the few highlights of season four in an episode entitled The Haunting Of Mary Jane Watson in which Mary Jane gets a part working as stand in to complete a film which was being shot at Wonder Studios, Mysterioís old stomping grounds. When she goes missing from the stage, Spider-Man searches beneath the catacombs and discovers robotic versions of his villains attacking him, and oddly enough, the real Mysterio aiding him. Spider-Man had defeated Mysterio earlier on in the episode but he later escaped.

As it turns out, Mysterio had also fallen for a redhead and was doing what he could to keep her alive after she had taking a nasty fall off a bridge and spent weeks hiding in the sewers. (This was the weird part of the episode Ė imagine, a villain with a fishbowl for a head and his girlfriend is the weirdo!). The episode had a few great twists and had me going for a while as I kept expecting Mysterio to turn on Spidey. Add that to all the cool cameos from the villains and youíve got a pretty good episode on your hands. Surprisingly enough, Mysterio died at the end of the episode. No cop out, nor was there any ďshockingĒ return, he said that he was staying with Miranda as she blew the building on top of them up and he did.

And thatís that. Mysterio hasnít been animated since. I have high hopes that he will make his presence felt on the upcoming Direct To DVD series next fall, but given how little is known about the project beyond Chris Yostís involvement, itís too early to say.

Now where did I put Chrisí email addressÖ?

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