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EPISODE REVIEW

Episode #2: Interactions
Original Airdate: March 8th, 2008

Peter Parker and Spider-Man both try to make connections. Nerdy Pete attempts to tutor the popular Liz Allan, while Spidey reaches out to stop a new menace: Electro.

Credits
Written by Kevin Hopps
Directed by Tony Adomitis
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Dongwoo animation

Voices
Josh Keaton as Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Crispin Freeman as Max Dillion/Electro
Lacey Chabert as Gwen Stacy
Grey Delisle as Sally Avril
John Dimaggio as Flint Marko, Hammerhead
Joshua Lebar as Flash Thompson
Deborah Strang as May Parker
James Arnold Taylor as Harry Osborn
Brian George as Aaron Warren
Dorian Harewood as Doc Bromwell
Kath Soucie as Martha Connors, Trina
Allana Ubach as Liz Allan
Tom Wilson as Stan Carter

Review: S.C.B - There was one thing that continually rebounded around my usually quiet, vapid head throughout this episode, and it stemmed from the welcome animated homage to Spider-Man 2 in the opening scenes.

This show… is fun.

Now, I’m not saying the movies weren’t fun, but they certainly lacked a light hearted atmosphere, instead opting for a more sombre, angst-y tone. Which is fair enough. It’s a part of Peter Parker as much as the wise-cracking is, and for an older audience, I suppose it makes more sense to go for a less comic (if you’ll excuse the expression) tone.

But did I smile more in this episode than I did in the aforementioned film? I’d say yes. Were most of those because of Spidey himself? Again, yes (especially “Uh… lightning butt?”).

This show, and this episode, really captured the tone of the comics as well as the character. It has more freedom to, since the 60s comics upon which it is based were intended for children (while appealing to older audiences), as is a cartoon. That said, it’s probably easier to get away with the happy-go-lucky attitude of the webslinger in this show than it would in the movies.

And the tone isn’t the only thing that has survived the transition from page to screen intact. The parallel development of a frankly ludicrous amount of characters is something I always admired about the Lee/Ditko/Romita Sr. years, and it has most definitely been continued here. Eddie Brock is being characterised as an all round nice guy, and with none of the ‘I’m definitely going to become a villain’ atmosphere that the 90s show and Spider-Man 3 gave the character. His friendship with Dillon, silent concern for Gwen (isn’t it great to have silent concern expressed in a cartoon?) and willingness to sacrifice himself for his friends make his inevitable fall from grace all the more tragic, even now.

What makes the process truly remarkable is that Eddie’s not even the main focus of the episode. Peter continues to endear himself with how much he generally messes up all over the place (the blurry pictures gag worked a treat), but without being a pushover as Peter. His dismissal of Liz before he went off to fight Electro elicited quite a smile from me, I’ll admit. As for Liz herself, I’ve seen more than a few comments already calling her the most annoying character on the show. I think she’s being given a chance to develop. Her regretful glance back at Peter at the end of the episode makes me think that she’ll be returning again, and probably changing for the better as time goes on.

Although the accent was a bit much. I can understand the network (or the producers of the show) wanting a bit more ethnic diversity in the cast. And changing Liz would seem to be the best of both worlds; instead of creating a brand new ethnic character a la Superfriends, change a character who isn’t that integral to Peter’s world. Therefore we still get a comic book character, and we still get the diversity. But it does feel like change for change’s sake. Although many thought the same of John Stewart in Justice League, and to many people he is now the Green Lantern.

Not that Liz is comparable to Green Lantern.

Which, of course, leaves us with Electro. To put it lightly, he blows other animated incarnations of the character away with an angry blast of awesome electricity energy. The 90s version was… nothing to do with the comics character except in costume and (exaggerated) powers, and didn’t have much depth to boot. The MTV version treaded the fine line between being annoying and having the audiences’ sympathy. And, let’s be honest, he fell off into the ‘annoying’ pit halfway through the episode, despite having a rather impressive and creepy look as Electro. This version, however, reminded me in many ways of villains from Batman: The Animated Series. He went back and forth from being cocky to sympathetic before finally just going nuts, and the journey was done very well. The fact that he didn’t really do anything (deliberately) and yet still somehow had Spider-Man and the police coming after him gives him a truly sympathetic vibe that impressed me. His look, while not as Silver Age-y as the Vulture’s, made sense for the character, and I appreciated how his uncovered head sometimes took the shape of the classic Electro mask. It’s the little details that the fanboys appreciate.

Peter, too, received a few moments that I couldn’t go without mentioning; his calls to Aunt May, his aforementioned abandonment of Liz, messing up every picture of himself… I cannot say enough good things about this incarnation of the character. It’s almost frustrating watching him mess up the things we know he will excel at in later life, while still knowing that some things will forever be out of his grasp.

Animation… what can be said? It goes without saying that these fights out-do anything the previous Spider-Man shows have done (although MTV did have some super scuffles), but these excel even when compared to other shows. They easily match some of the more kinetic fights from The Batman, and even have a stylistic edge that reminds me a little of Teen Titans. And the eyes aren’t that bad.

Overall, a strong follow-up to the first episode, and an indicator that the series will only get stronger. And it’s definitely keeping my attention more than other animated superhero fare at the moment.

And incidentally: I love the theme tune.




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