Review by Jon T, Media By Stu
Episode #16 - Along Came Spidey
Written By: Donald F Glut
Music Composed By: John Douglas
Guest Starring: John Stephenson as The Shocker and Uncle Ben
Every series has an episode which is its jewel in the crown, easily the best of all the episodes. This is Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends' jewel. As a viewer, I liked all of the Spider-Friends, but first and foremost, I naturally liked Spider-Man the most, since he was the star. So, on that level this episode automatically gets bonus points for showing exactly who Spider-Man is, and how he came to be.
But unlike other versions of the famous tale, this episode has so much more to recommend about it. Whereas the 1967 version of the story was undeniably very faithful to the source material, we don't immediately see just how Spider-Man's initial experiences relate to his present-day activities. Writer Donald F. Glut has always been a big fan of Spider-Man, and even related a brief account of some of Spider-Man's origin in the 1981 solo Spider-Man episode "Arsenic and Aunt May".
Here, we get a brilliant framing story involving Spider-Man's old adversary, the Shocker, who in battle causes Aunt May to be injured, and Peter questioning his entire life as Spider-Man. The painful lesson of where there is great power there must always be great responsibility has never been stated so clearly in any other interpretation of his origin. To actually see a Spider-Man who is so wrapped up in himself that he can't even be bothered to stop a simple thief, only to dearly regret that mistake for the rest of his life is something that was burned into my memory upon seeing this episode for the first time.
To this day, when I think of the true origin of Spider-Man, I picture this episode in my mind. The 1990s series version sadly didn't quite work for me due to various factors (the main one being a very weak framing story). The 1967 version comes close, but is hampered by the extremely low quality of animation (even for its time). Spider-Man, the movie, while keeping many of the origin story's trappings, missed the point altogether, as it was merely Peter's feelings of revenge rather than pure arrogance that ultimately lead to his Uncle's murder.
There are also lots of wonderful touches to this episode, first and foremost being the fantastic and sadly seldom-used animation from Toei Doga in Japan. The animators even went to the trouble of designing a subtly different animation model for young Peter. Even the script itself has some nice touches, such as some of the flashback dialogue being based on the 1967 series episode "The Origin of Spiderman".