500th Post – Top 12 Episodes of Spider-Man (1994)
Can you believe it? I have hit 500 posts. That is me personally and not the website – that hit 500 here. It has been quite an experience getting to this point. When I started this it was just me putting my thoughts down on some of the the things I watch and now there’s more things to cover than I can reasonably handle so I have enlisted others to volunteer to help me so I’d like to say a big thanks to my contributors Jordan McIntyre, Gwen Penvellyn, Urfa Sarmad, Angus Ballantine and Aaron Billingham for volunteering their time to help me out. For the next 500 posts I hope to expand the team even more and cover even more content so if you’re interested then please get in touch and maybe we can work something out. I’ll consider everyone.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone who has supported me since the beginning. Thank you to everyone who has retweeted, favourited, liked, commented, passed on the information to their friends and family and of course, read the articles. There would be no website without all of that so I am genuinely humbled to have had the level of success I have had. I just hope that it continues to expand as time goes on.
That’s enough of the acceptance speech and now onto the plan I have to celebrate my 500th post. I had trouble thinking about what to do but ultimately I settled on doing a top 10 list of my favourite episodes of the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon. The animation was sometimes ropey and relied far too much on its own stock footage, some of the voice acting could be really cheesy at times and some of the dialogue was beyond ridiculous but I still love it to this day. Between the writing and the awesome music it’s something that should stick in the head of any Spider-Man fan. Turns out that narrowing it down to 10 was too hard so I decided to cheat and make it 12.
This show had a massive influence on me growing up and I’m glad that I get to share that with everyone. People who know me will be aware of how big a Spider-Man fan I am. He has always been my favourite superhero and probably always will be and a big part of why is watching this cartoon. John Semper and his team crafted a well written comic accurate animated portrayal of the character. It was updated for the 90s but a lot of the major comic arcs were there in altered forms. Watching this is probably largely why I expect everything I watch to be continuity driven as stories were often referred to, Spidey’s relationships deepened and the hatred for him felt by the villains grew in each subsequent encounter.
A massive example of how profoundly this show affected me is that when I read a Spider-Man comic I still hear the voice of Christopher Daniel Barnes when I read lines spoken by Peter Parker. Similarly for Jennifer Hale and Felicia Hardy/Black Cat as well as pretty much every other character that was featured with the exception of Mary Jane (Saratoga Ballantine) because I never felt like she sounded quite right. It’s not a bad performance but something about the voice never screamed “Mary Jane” to me.
Before I finally get to the list I’ll note a caveat because who doesn’t love a caveat? Many of these entries are part of a multiple part story but I’ve chosen to take the episode I felt was the strongest and note that rather than take the full story. I think I’ve cheated enough so need to challenge myself to narrow this down somehow. Now that I’ve gotten that over with I’ll get onto the list:
12 – Season 3 Episode 2 – “Sins of the Fathers Chapter II – Make a Wish”
First on the list is an adaptation of the classic story “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” originally published in 1984’s Amazing Spider-Man #248. There are some notable changes here such as the gender of the kid for one thing. In the comic it was a young boy named Tim Harrison but here it’s a young girl named Maria “Taina” Elozonda. The spirit of the original comic is the same, there’s a kid who loves Spider-Man and wants to meet him so Spidey turns up and does a few tricks as well as shares his origin story. It even ends with him revealing his identity though that doesn’t happen until the second part of this particular story. What made this episode and the original comic notable is that the kid has a terminal illness and only has a short time to live. It really makes for a powerful story as Spidey feels helpless about not being able to help a dying child so he makes sure that he lives up to being the hero that is seen through these innocent eyes.
This episode makes some significant changes to the original comic by coupling it with an adaptation of Amazing Spider-Man #55 and #56. In these issues Spidey loses his memory and works with Doctor Octopus (Efrem Zimbalist Jr ) after being convinced that they are partners in crime. That doesn’t really happen until the second part but the seeds are sown here. The reason I chose this part over the second one is that I really liked the idea of Spider-Man reaffirming his commitment to responsibility after being reminded why it’s important by a child who idolises him. At the start of the episode he makes a reckless mistake that causes a lot of damage to a medical facility and is all set to quit being Spider-Man as a result. One of the things I have always liked about this character is that he is just a normal guy who makes mistakes and lets the regret weigh on him heavily. It’s also a good vehicle to cover the origin story without devoting an entire episode to it. Having Spidey tell the origin to someone else gives him a reason to reflect on it in a different way and makes it part of the story. Taina could be quite annoying but she was a good character as she challenged Spidey in a way he wasn’t prepared for. This episode also introduces Madame Web (Joan Clayton) who would become a mainstay through the rest of the series.
11 – Season 5 Episode 13 – “Spider Wars, Chapter II: Farewell, Spider-Man”
The series finale of the show also turned out to be one of the best episodes. In the first part Madame Web and the Beyonder (Earl Boen) pulled together a collection of Spider-Men from different realities to help bring down a crazed version of himself possessed by the Carnage symbiote. Naturally the Spidey from the reality the audience follows is chosen to lead the team and fight to save reality from himself. The first part is really good but I chose the second because it delivered a story that gets to the root of what Spidey is all about and gives an ending to the series that proves worthy.
It’s a lot of fun to see a reality where Spider-Man is adored by the public and a complete success in his personal and professional life. There’s also an appearance from Gwen Stacy (Mary Kay Bergman) who is completely absent from the reality that “our” Spider-Man inhabits and some cool action involving Spidey fighting a twisted version of himself as well as the remaining group fighting the monstrous Man-Spider at the beginning of the episode. This was Spider-Verse before Dan Slott even got to it. As a side note it’s a shame that this universe wasn’t represented in those comics.
Spidey’s method for getting through to his other self was incredibly sentimental but also really clever. He correctly assumed that the reason his alternate self was so arrogant is because he has never suffered a loss of any kind. This means that Uncle Ben (Brian Keith) is alive and well in this reality so can be used to remind the crazed version of the difference between right and wrong. The result is a short but moving scene where the alternate Peter is talked out of his plan to destroy reality by the one man who can get through to him. Sadly it results in him committing suicide but maybe it was the only way for him to find peace. As a side benefit “our” Peter gets assurance from the man that he constantly tries to live up to that he’s doing a good job.
While not being an adaptation of any specific comic book it does borrow heavily from the infamous Clone Saga in a way that is far less horrifying than having to read it. There are even elements that make fun of it but it is never done at the expense of the story at hand. This also happens to be the episode where Spidey gets to go to a reality where he is a character in fiction and meet Stan Lee himself. It’s pretty out there and works as almost total fan service but it’s actually pretty great. It gives Peter further affirmation that he’s a good man and allows real life husband and wife Stan Lee and Joan Clayton to flirt in character for a great meta exchange. A good note to end on but I wish there had been more.
10 – Season 2 Episode 12 – “Neogenic Nightmare Chapter XII – Ravages of Time”
This episode concludes the Tablet of Time arc begun in the episode of the same name. The tablet first turned up in Amazing Spider-Man #68 but this version of the story is very different in a really good way. Desire for the tablet and its power sparks a shooting war between rival Crime Lords Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin (Roscoe Lee Brown) and Silvermane (Jeff Corey) who both want it for their own reasons. Silvermane is perhaps more desperate as he is convinced it can restore his lost youth.
A lot happens in this episode and there are villains all over the place. Tombstone (Dorian Harewood) and Hammerhead (Nicky Blair) both act as henchmen for Fisk and Silvermane with Tombstone working for Silvermane and Hammerhead switching sides on various occasions but the Lizard also makes an appearance as well as Alistair Smythe (Maxwell Caulfield) and his Megaslayer robot.
You’d think that there would be a lot to keep track of here and there is but none of it ever feels overpowering. By this time in the run of the series it had been accepted that Spider-Man gets stuck in situations like this all the time so it all feels a little routine in a good way. There are some particularly memorable sequences such as a prisoner exchange that turns into a firefight after an obvious double cross and a really cool fight in Silvermane’s base while he ages backwards all the way to being a baby. It’s a very powerful reminder of “be careful what you wish for”.
Some of it is a little questionable such as Doctor Curt Connors (Joseph Campanella) turning into the Lizard and people wondering where he came from despite the fact that he’s wearing the distinctive lab coat and name tag. It really shouldn’t be difficult to figure out even in a stressful situation. It doesn’t hurt the episode too much but it pretty funny to witness.
In terms of character development for Spider-Man there isn’t a lot but his interest in getting the tablet back extends to the potential it has to cure him of the mutation disease that he was struggling with at this point. He is also given further reason to feel bad about his love life when the cute girl at college Alisa Silver (Leigh Allyn Baker) turns out to be the daughter of Silvermane. That’s just the Parker luck at its finest.
09 – Season 3 Episode 10 – “Sins of the Fathers Chapter X – Venom Returns”
It took a long time but the Venom symbiote finally came back to bond with Eddie Brock (Hank Azaria) after being banished into outer space by Spidey when they first tussled. Eddie Brock has been locked up in Ravencroft as he is believed to be criminally insane with the Venom persona being a delusion brought on by his hatred of Spider-Man. He is being treated by Dr. Ashley Kafka (Barbara Goodson) who tries to convince him of this but I have to wonder if she’s trying to talk him into believing a lie as Venom was on the news so would surely be confirmed as something that exists at the very least.
Eddie Brock is further developed in this episode as someone who believes in justice and protecting the innocent just like his comic counterpart. His hatred for Spider-Man distracted him from that but Brock wasn’t always a bad guy. For this version his desire for justice was a new development at this point since he had always been selfish and entitled when he featured heavily in the first season. It could have been bubbling beneath the surface or have been something he developed when incarcerated in Ravencroft.
The Doctor Strange villain Baron Mordo (Tony Jay) and his extradimensional master Dormammu (Phil LaMarr) is used to bring the symbiote back to Earth to rebond with Brock and steal a device from Tony Stark (Robert Hays) that will allow Dormammu to come through to our dimension so that he can consume it. It’s a pretty grim plan but surely they can find easier help than the effort expended in recruiting Venom. Considering Mordo was able to easily brainwash people and give them magical powers in his last appearance I would think that’s an easier plan. Having said that I won’t argue with bringing back Venom no matter how contrived.
Venom is used excellently here with the full range of his powers on display as he takes on tanks as well as other high powered Stark security forces. His battle with both Spider-Man and War Machine (James Avery) is must see despite the use of repeat footage during the fight that sticks out because it had been seen minutes earlier. One of the strengths of this series was Spider-Man teaming up with other heroes and his team up with War Machine is a good fit.
This episode introduces Cletus Cassidy/Carnage (Scott Cleverdon) who fares no better than he does in the comics. It is ambitious to introduce a character known for being a cold blooded murderer into a kids TV show but he doesn’t really work. This is the first part of a two part story with the second part focusing on Carnage but I chose the first part for this list as Venom actually feels like a character where Carnage feels like a caricature. At least Venom gets a proper showing in this episode before being unduly dispensed with in the next one.
08 – Season 4 Episode 05 – “Partners In Danger Chapter V – Partners”
Throughout season 4 Spidey was struggling to deal with the loss of Mary Jane at the end of the third season. He would constantly question why he bothered putting on the costume since all it does is get the people he loves hurt and impacts his life negatively. Despite all of that his sense of responsibility wins out and the first few episodes seem to have a “one last time” vibe for him without any natural end point for him.
Unwittingly helping him through the grief is the gorgeous adventurer the Black Cat (Jennifer Hale) who is secretly his college classmate Felicia Hardy. Neither of them know the other’s identity but they find themselves in the same situations more often and not and end up working together as a result. Black Cat’s free spirited nature and strong sense of responsibility is something that Spidey is instantly attracted to no matter how much he tries to deny it. He resists her becoming his partner because he doesn’t want to be responsible for ruining another life but doesn’t respect that it’s not up to him whether she risks her life or not.
Black Cat is very different from her comic incarnation who started out as a self obsessed thief and warmed to the crime fighting ways in order to impress Spidey to win his heart. This version was developed from early on with Felicia Hardy being a spoiled rich girl with her head in the clouds before she learns more about her family’s past and has a few wrongs she needs to right on behalf of her family. The Black Cat identity arrives much later when she is given the same serum that gave Captain America his powers which marks a radical departure from the comics where she initially didn’t have any powers and when she eventually got some they didn’t resemble Cap at all.
This episode marks a major step in Spidey’s emotional healing as he comes round to the idea of having a partner help him fight crime. It takes Black Cat being kidnapped by Smythe for him to realise this and he is completely driven to get her back and tell her how he feels. It’s a good point for Spidey’s development to take that turn as it stops the angst from completely overpowering the series. Of course he isn’t over Mary Jane’s disappearance but the healing process has begun.
In just over 20 minutes this episode manages to juggle 3 (arguably even 5) villains better than either Spider-Man 3 or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ever did, granted they had all been previously established but in the context of the story they all serve a defined purpose. Smythe has chosen to ally with Silvermane who is still a baby but is keen to age to his prime quickly. Alisa is back and does the adult stuff where her infant father is incapable. Scorpion (Richard Moll) and the Vulture (Eddie Albert as the old and Alan Johnson as the young) also appear but mostly serve as catalysts for the story. Scorpion is treated with a bit more sympathy as he is reluctantly led back to a life of crime in order to get money together to fix his mutated condition. He wants to be normal and live with his girlfriend but feels that forces are beyond his control. Vulture is pretty self serving but that is consistent with his last appearance. Smythe is also treated as a sympathetic figure who only wants to revive his father. He has a great line where he says that he is “working for promises”. The tragedy surrounding Smythe’s desires was a common device used in the show and it always worked well.
There’s some pretty cool action here as a chaotic battle erupts in Silvermane’s facility where everyone is fighting everyone else until the place is about to explode and everyone needs to leave. Silvermane accomplishes his objective…sort of when he is made as old as he was when he started. There’s even a really funny joke that suggests that he soiled himself. All in all this is a great blend of character drama and action that furthers Spidey’s story to deal with his grief and begins a short chapter of partnership between him and the Black Cat with the possibility of a relationship.
07 – Season 2 Episode 02 – “Neogenic Nightmare Chapter II – Battle of the Insidious Six”
The second part of the season 2 opener sees Spidey take on the Insidious Six (a random name change from the comics where they were known as the Sinister Six). The roster in this case is Doctor Octopus, Mysterio (Gregg Berger), Rhino (Don Stark), Chameleon (everyone voices him but his base form has no voice), Shocker (Jim Cummings) and the Scorpion who are brought together by the Kingpin to take down Silvermane.
Beyond having the ultimate villain team-up to deal with Spidey is also losing his powers and unknown to him at this point is starting to mutate into a horrific creature. The second part deals with Spidey having to take down the villains without the benefit of his powers. To make it worse Doc Ock has taken his Aunt May (Linda Gary) prisoner without her really knowing about it as she has convinced her that Peter is ill. In an amusing twist Ock unmasks Spidey but doesn’t believe that he could really be Peter Parker as he put up such a pitiful fight without his powers in a reference to Amazing Spider-Man #12 where the same happens with the notable differences of Ock being on his own in that issue and Spidey being depowered by having a bad cold.
This episode really shows Spidey’s creativity as a combatant as he manages to use the tense team-up of the villains against them. A few choice phrases uttered by him is able to throw enough doubt into the mix to start turning them against each other. It’s a great testament of the intelligence that is as important a trait of the character as any of his powers and the way he tricks the villains is amusing to watch. Naturally he gets his powers back by the end and uses them to finish the job but his strategy is what wins the day here.
There are lots of fight sequences here that make good use of the previous footage featuring some of these villains. I don’t hold it against the show as I understand that animation can be expensive and it had to be made on the budget. It’s only become more obvious to me in more recent years and I hold it as part of the charm that comes with watching this show.
06 – Season 2 Episode 06 – “Neogenic Nightmare Chapter VI – Morbius”
Morbius was a villain that I was never fussed about in the comics. He was always a sympathetic figure but something about him always seemed lacking to me. That isn’t the case with this version as he is developed as being a tragic character who just had something bad happen to him.
He is introduced as genius level foreign student Michael Morbius (Nick Jameson) who has come to America in order to learn enough about science and medicine to find a cure for a plague infecting his home village. As a result he is incredibly competitive to a point that makes people dislike him intensely. In particular Peter feels threatened by him especially after he manages to win the heart of Felicia Hardy after his antics as Spider-Man cause him to miss another date.
Morbius’ competitive nature causes him to steal a vial of Peter Parker’s mutated blood from his locker wrongly assuming that it is part of the experiment he is going to use to win the chance to be Doctor Connors’ assistant. Michael experiments on the blood but is bitten by a bat that is exposed to the sample as well as radiation. The result is that he becomes a vampire who needs to feast on the plasma of others to survive.
Since this is a kids show some notable changes have been made. Morbius doesn’t use his fangs to feast on the blood of innocents despite still having them. Instead he has suckers on his hands that he uses to drain his victims and his sympathetic nature is always intact. He is seen to be fighting against his nature and desiring a cure. In many ways this represents a version of Peter Parker that could have been. He can relate to Morbius as he is equally as desperate to cure his own mutation but he doesn’t really know that to begin with. Morbius is a lot like Peter without the moral lessons that define him. It also gives Peter the guilt associated with battling a villain that he is indirectly responsible for creating.
This is the beginning of a fairly sizeable arc that culminates with Morbius flying away to be alone and not hurt anyone but this is the strongest entry as it keeps things focused on the binary problems of Morbius and Peter Parker dealing with their respective mutations. The episode even ends with Spidey using the events of this episode as a catalyst for him to use an experimental serum that can accelerate his mutation, remove his powers completely or simply kill him. Naturally it makes things worse and he grows 4 extra arms. Effectively Peter’s desperation makes him no better than Morbius and that is something he has to deal with along with everything else that’s going on. As a last point, Morbius has one of the coolest pieces of theme music ever associated with a character. Sadly it doesn’t seem to be on youtube on its own but it’s easy enough to find.
05 – Season 2 Episode 05 – “Neogenic Nightmare Chapter V – Mutants’ Revenge”
Simply put this episode is a lot of fun. It’s the second of a two part story where Spidey goes to visit the X-Men in search of a cure for his mutant condition. He has misunderstood what Xavier’s work is concerning and quickly finds that he won’t find a cure there as Xavier is all about teaching people how to live with a mutation rather than getting rid of it.
The second part begins with a misunderstanding between Spidey and Wolverine (Cal Dodd) who thinks that he is involved in the kidnapping of Beast (George Buza). They have a brief fight but are interrupted by an attack from the Hobgoblin (Mark Hamill) which causes them to put their differences aside and work together to get to the bottom of this. Wolvie still doesn’t trust Spidey but decides to work with him while keeping an eye on him.
Most of the episode is concerned with them infiltrating Landon’s (David Warner) facility and it’s awesome. The two of them bounce off each other perfectly with some genuinely funny one liners normally at the expense of the other. Spidey also learns some valuable lessons such as “claws are definitely more fun than doors”. There’s some great musical work as the themes from both this show and X-Men are combined seamlessly.
The end of the episode even features a really cool collaboration between Spidey and the entire X-Men team where he gets to use his scientific skills to have a dialogue with Beast that puts them on an intellectual par as they work together to solve the problem. The dynamic between all of these characters is just so much fun to watch and it’s a shame that it didn’t ever happen again.
Beyond that the episode develops a theme that is seen throughout season 2. Spidey has always been a bit of a loner but through his interactions with many other characters he learns that he doesn’t need to be alone and can turn to others for help when he needs it. There is a touching moment between him and the X-Men where they all proclaim their friendship for him. It’s just a fantastic superhero romp all round.
04 – Season 2 Episode 08 – “Neogenic Nightmare Chapter VIII – Duel of the Hunters”
Speaking of Spidey turning to his friends. There is no better example than this episode. Spidey’s worst fear comes true and he mutates into the horrific Man-Spider creature and starts terrorising the city. The Punisher (John Beck) and Kraven the Hunter (Gregg Berger) reluctantly team up to stop him. Initially the Punisher is trying to go it alone because he has the misfortune of being near him when the transformation takes place though in fairness he was trying to kill Spidey so he does sorta deserve to be attacked.
This is the only episode where other characters perform the bulk of the heroics with Spidey acting as the villain of the piece. The Man-Spider looks monstrous and therefore terrifies everyone that sees it but there’s more than a little spark of Peter Parker in there. As can be seen when he looks for familiar faces like Mary Jane and even goes home. It also only seems to attack in self defence and generally seems to want to be left alone.
Naturally, the Punisher wants to see it dead but Kraven won’t have any part of it. He and Maria Crawford owe Spidey big time after all he did to help them when Kraven was dosed on his serum and had pretty much gone feral. They repay this by making sure that he can be brought back from this nightmare.
I’ve never really liked Kraven all that much but the version in this cartoon is probably the best. He’s not a villain as such and only acts as one as a result of the unstable serum he took. In this episode he uses his considerable skills to act as an ally of Spider-Man and keep the Punisher in check. Kraven and the Punisher are a great team-up who bounce off each other really well. They disagree more often than they agree which makes for a tenuous yet entertaining partnership. I’d have loved to see more of this as I agree with Kraven’s sentiment about them being “magnificent together”.
Spidey in his human form is largely absent from this episode as he takes on the role of the villain but everything is about him. It’s clear how much influence he has had on those around them as evidenced by Kraven and Dr. Crawford’s desire to help him. Similarly Flash Thompson is unflinching in his support for his hero. All of this really compliments the notion of Spider-Man having friends and allies that he can count on.
03 – Season 5 Episode 06 – “Six Forgotten Warriors, Chapter V: The Price of Heroism”
How could any list concerning this show ignore the appearance of the living legend Captain America (David Hayter) himself. This episode is the concluding part in a 5 part story where Spidey is in the middle of a plot focused on finding an old WWII doomsday weapon that could cause untold destruction across the world.
Spidey finds himself interacting with heroes who are more than a little past their prime but still willing to fight the good fight. They are a team who used to work with Captain America and have since gone their separate ways until being brought together by the secret they all share. At the end of the fourth part both Cap and the Red Skull (Earl Boen) are released from suspended animation and awesomeness ensues.
This episode mostly focuses on the team trying to take down the doomsday weapon in the form of Electro (Phil Proctor) with particular attention paid to the dynamic between Cap and Spidey. Cap embodies the spirit of heroism and inspires everyone around him to be the best that they can be. Spidey in particular finds renewed strength in the presence of this hero and learns important lessons about what really matters when it comes to saving the world. Mary Jane is hurt by Electro and Cap is sympathetic as he realises that she is important to Spidey but reminds him that being a hero is about making the hard choices and sometimes losing something personally important. It’s a lesson that Spidey has reinforced time and time again but I feel that this is the episode that causes him to truly understand what it really means.
There are some really cool fights in the episode such as Cap’s old team taking on a squadron of robots at the United Nations and Spidey’s final defeat of Electro. He doubts his abilities to deal with someone that powerful but Cap tells him that he has to do it as there as nobody else will be able to right before sacrificing himself to rid the world of the Red Skull. This allows Spidey to use his intelligence to trick Electro into engineering his own defeat. It’s really powerful stuff and puts forwards a faithful adaptation of Captain America without him coming across as too cheesy or self righteous.
02 – Season 1 Episode 10 – “The Alien Costume (Part 3)
Venom’s second appearance appeared earlier on this list but his first appearance was far superior. This episode acts as the ending of two distinct stories. The first is the 3 part “Alien Costume” story that ends with this episode and the second is the story of Eddie Brock as set up since the first episode “Night of the Lizard”.
It was a close call between the second part of this three parter and this episode but ultimately I chose this one as I like how Venom was handled. This was the first villain in this series to learn Peter Parker’s true identity and the episode plays out a lot like a horror story. Venom is a relentless presence that doesn’t show up on Peter’s spider sense so can sneak up on him with absolutely no warning and the knowledge gifted to Eddie Brock by the symbiote after being bonded with Peter means that he knows Peter as well as he knows himself.
There’s a sense of unease throughout the episode as Peter is constantly looking over his shoulder for when Venom will show up next. It gets to him so much that he is unable to concentrate due to the hallucinations of his foe that he constantly experiences.
His worst fears about the situation do come true when Venom shows up at all the places Peter doesn’t want him to. He shows up at his home, at the Daily Bugle and when he is out with Mary Jane. It’s a constant reminder that Peter will never be rid of him and that Venom is much stronger than he is. There’s a particularly great scene where Venom unmasks him and dangles him above the city inviting Jameson (Ed Asner) to zoom in with a camera to learn his identity. Of course he doesn’t but the threat is there. I think a story along these lines would be a great idea for a Spider-Man film where Venom was the main villain.
Spidey again uses his brain to solve the problem and tries to get at Venom through his pride. Throughout the episode he gets angrier when referred to as Brock so Spidey uses that to his advantage by trying to humiliate him and get him angry enough to slip up. Naturally Spidey wins but he is unsettled by the experience as he now has to deal with the fact that he created his most challenging enemy.
01 – Season 4 Episode 14 – “Partners in Danger Chapter XIV – Turning Point”
My number 1 pick is another instance of an enemy learning Spider-Man’s true identity. In this case it is Norman Osborn’s (Neil Ross) alter ego the Green Goblin who uses his portal device to follow Spidey until he changes into Peter Parker. Like Venom the Green Goblin uses that knowledge to attack Peter Parker’s personal life and alter it in profound ways.
This episode is actually an adaptation of 3 different Spider-Man stories featuring the Green Goblin. Amazing Spider-Man #39, Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2 and Amazing Spider-Man #121 & #122 are all represented here. You would think trying to adapt so many stories into one episode of a cartoon that isn’t much longer than 20 minutes long would be impossible but this episode pulls it off in spades.
It manages to do this without wasting any time messing around. We go from the reveal of the identity to the tense dinner party and from there to the infamous bridge scene with ease. This story is all about urgency and it never lets up for a second.
The unmasking scene is a little silly as Peter doesn’t seem all that concerned about the fact that his spider sense is blaring heavily. I would think he would know that he should pay attention to it particularly when he is about to unmask. It serves its purpose but could have been done a lot better.
All of this is forgiven by the excellent dinner scene where Norman has a lot of fun dropping hints as to Peter’s identity and is always on the verge of outing it to the other guests. I particularly enjoyed how sinister he seemed when Peter excused himself for feeling a little ill and Osborn replies with a wide grin while saying “Only a little?”. He clearly enjoys hating Spider-Man and making him stew through his mockery by using subtext.
When he kidnaps Mary Jane and takes her to the bridge the episode is at its absolute strongest. Spidey is doing everything he can to stay close to her and save her but Osborn isn’t making it easy. Spidey is distracted by her presence and makes a lot of mistakes as well as allowing his desperation to give Osborn the upper hand more than once. Eventually the inevitable happens and she is sucked into a portal to who knows where. This loss tips Spidey over the edge and he goes after Osborn with the intention of killing him. He is so overcome with anger and Christopher Daniel Barnes’ vocal performance portrays it perfectly. Spidey becomes almost terrifying as he relentlessly attacks Osborn to make him pay for what he’s done.
The fight sequences are perfectly executed with a real sense of urgency and desperation. To this day I still feel the anticipation kick in when I watch this episode even though I know what’s coming.
Just like in the comic version of this story Spidey comes to his senses at the last second and realises that he’s not the sort of man who can kill because he can’t sink to that level or he’ll lose a big part of himself. Osborn unwittingly causes his own “death” by trying to attack Spidey with his glider but being hit by it instead. Osborn follows Mary Jane to wherever it is she goes and seems to be gone forever leading Spider-Man to beg Madame Web for help only to have her refuse due to his arrogance earlier in the episode that sets him up for this massive fall.
In terms of Spider-Man adaptations this episode is pretty much as good as it gets. It seamlessly blends, characterisation, writing, voice acting, tension, drama and tragedy in a way that makes for a very fine viewing experience. I am impressed at the skill involved in adapting “The Night that Gwen Stacy Died” without actually killing off a character.
So there we have it, my 500th post is complete and I’ve hopefully done justice to my favourite cartoon growing up. It might be a little dated to anything other than nostalgic eyes but I’d say if you can look past the occasionally dodgy animation, repeated use of stock footage and cheesy dialogue at times then you’ll find a version of Spider-Man that more than does the character justice. If you’re reading this and loved the show then please do hit me up in the comments section below or on my two twitter accounts here and here. There’s also a facebook page here. Please keep spreading the love and letting more people find me. Thank you to everyone who continues to support me.