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Review By Krankyboy, Media By Stu

Episode #44 - Diamond Dust

Tired of his role as a mild-mannered student, Peter Parker tries out for the college baseball team as a pitcher. But if he doesn't get into the game later that day, he won't make the team at all.

“Diamond Dust” is one of the rare occasions where the goals of Peter Parker and the need for Spider-Man collide during a single episode. Such conflicts were often commonplace in comic book stories and would later be fleshed out to a greater extent in Spider-Man: The Animated Series on Fox Television. But the storyline, despite having the trappings of a fairly weak villain in Shakespeare, works quite well.

For the first time, Peter gets to be something more than a soft-spoken college student or a beleaguered photographer for the Daily Bugle. Fans of the comic book won't be thrilled that Peter is momentarily a jock with a heck of a fastball (due to his spider strength) or that he seems pretty close to being the team's star (this also puts him in a slightly better position than his failed attempts at being a football hero in a similar episode, “Criminals in the Clouds). Ralph Bakshi might not have been an expert on the character of Peter Parker or Spider-Man in general, but in this episode, he certainly understands Peter's conflicts with his larger responsibilities in his role as Spider-Man. And that's not a bad thing for a series aimed at little kids.

Of course, there are places where the episode excels and fails. When Spider-Man is trying to web-swing his way to the game on time, he takes forever - a result of poor pacing and overuse of stock footage due to budget constraints. But there are a few fine bits of animation, including the rather Noir-ish moments where Peter's silhouette or shadow is thrown upon an alley wall as he changes into Spider-Man (which also briefly serve as a throwback to the “Superman” cartoon shorts of Max Fleischer).

One of the better episodes of the second season, before the series completely fell apart in the nearly worthless third.