Cartoon Retrospective: Spider-Man (1994)

For anyone reading this that's not informed: I'm writing a series of blogs about cartoons. My loose plan is to feature one cartoon per blog and tell you--dear reader--why I love each featured cartoon. We can then proceed to recall the 'good ole days' of our respective youths.

Full series:

  • Part 1 -- "Hey Arnold!"
  • Part 2 -- "The Magic School Bus"
  • Part 3 -- "Rugrats"
  • Part 4 -- "Spider-Man" (You're reading it!)

I’ve been going back and forth on how exactly I should approach this blog. Initially I wanted to tell you everything I could about the featured cartoon, but then I realized that that’s not really what this blog series is supposed to be about. Not to mention how totally boring the first 600 words I initially wrote ended up. I can be a little slow sometimes, but I eventually remembered what I initially wanted these blogs to be, and what I wanted them to accomplish when I first started this mini-series several months ago. I started this series to look back at a cartoon of my youth and have some fun remembering what exactly I spent so much time watching while growing up. My secondary objective was--and is--to hopefully entertain you all as well, while simultaneously sparking some interesting discussion about whatever cartoon I happen to be taking a look back at. Let’s all jump into my little text-based time machine and take a look at a one of the many cartoons that filled my childhood with joy. I hope you all can relate!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten one of these blogs out there. I’d always planned on continuing this series, but found my memory of certain cartoons to be lacking. Well, that’s not the case any longer with the 1994 Spider-Man animated series. A little while back I found myself frustrated with my routine internet-focused lifestyle. To combat this frustration, I decided to take a break from all normal internet activities. Of course I figured I had to entertain myself somehow, and that’s when I turned to Netflix and watched all 65 episodes of the 1994 Spider-Man, totalling approximately 21.6 hours of showtime. What better time than now to write about it, huh?

I guess we’ll get right down to it: The 1994 Spider-Man animated series is still an absolute delight to watch. Being able to say that even now probably explains why I loved watching it as a kid. Despite a few minor shortcomings like “framey” animations and the occasional cheesy one-liner dialog, this is a very well produced and interesting cartoon. For the record, I’m not the biggest comic book guy, but from what I hear this cartoon stays rather faithful to the comics in terms of plot points and whatnot. There’s a metric ton of interesting, recognizable characters that make appearances, and not exclusively from Spider-Man either, but from other Marvel properties as well. A gallery of important character photos can be found at the bottom of this post for your viewing--and hopefully nostalgic--pleasure. It really is an excellent cartoon, even to this day. Very entertaining and worth watching. With all of that said, let’s look at just a couple of individual episodes that I found to be particularly interesting.

The symbiote attacks the astronauts on their way back to Earth.

I’d have to say my favorite Spider-Man villain ever is pretty easily Venom. I always loved how crazy and scary he was as a kid. I remember having a Venom action figure or two as well. When you get right down to it, the whole symbiote plot is especially interesting. For these reasons, let’s talk about Season 1, Episode 7 - The Alien Costume: Part 1. In this episode you’re introduced to the symbiote that will eventually become Venom. The episode starts with a couple of astronauts mining some kind of asteroid. They get more than they bargained for when they accidentally bring a living black ooze onto their ship and back to earth. This ooze turns out to be an eeevil symbiote that must find a host to bond to in order to survive. Initially, it chooses Peter Parker. This is where the infamous black suit spidey comes from. This was something that was actually covered in the recent live action feature films as well. Anyway, this is a really fun episode and one of my favorites due to how Peter and Spider-Man alike change while under the influence of the symbiote. Black suit Spider-Man is much more powerful and able to do a lot more than OG Spider. Beyond that though, watching Peter act like a total dick is also a good time. It’s obviously a complete departure from his natural personality, and that makes it especially entertaining. Peter calling Flash Thompson a bonehead while they fight over Felicia Hardy is especially humorous. Peter just has a “take what I want” attitude that provides a nice little change of pace from his regular routine. I kind of wish there was a bit more of that. This episode ends before the symbiote has a chance to bond with Eddie Brock to form Venom, but it’s the start of all of that, and a great episode.

Spider-Man's chosen allies.

Really, there aren’t many episodes NOT worth watching, but I’m going to go ahead and skip to one of the final episodes: Season 5, Episode 9 - Secret Was Chapter 1: Arrival: Part 1. They sure do know how to name titles; lots of colons, lots of dashes. Anyway, this is one of the last episodes in the series. The end of the series really goes out with a bang though, so I’d hate to not talk about these closers a bit. So there are three “Secret Wars” episodes. These involve Spider-Man being transported to another universe (or something) to be tested in an epic battle of good vs. evil. Spider-Man is taken by a man known only as The Beyonder and told he’s going to have to defend a planet from evil. Spider-Man doesn’t know that this is all just a test for his final challenge, taking place in the final two episodes of the series. But anyway, the reason I love this set of episodes so much is because of who all is involved. Over the course of the cartoon, several Marvel characters are introduced and fight alongside Spider-Man. Characters such as: Daredevil, Blade, The Punisher, Ironman, and the X-Men all make appearances. This episode brings great groups together on both sides of the fight. The Beyonder selects such villains as Doc Oc, The Lizard, Dr. Doom, and even the Red Skull. Spider-Man then gets a chance to select his own super team to help him take on these foes. Spider-Man brings in such characters as Storm, Ironman, the entire Fantastic 4, and of course Captain America. This is just a really fun episode full of super hero and super villain collaborations. Those are never not fun, and that holds true here. Just lots of good action as Spidey learns to be a leader in order to fight off all dat evil. One of the more interesting episodes for sure, and it leads into the final few episodes of the entire series, which are all great as well.

I’ve talked about a very early episode as well as a very late one. There’s mountains of amazing episodes between these two I chose to talk about, though. Really, I started watching this expecting to get through maybe six or seven episodes. Boy was I surprised to make it all of the way to the end. Despite my obvious nostalgia for this cartoon, I think my making it all of the way through is still a strong testament to how watchable and genuinely great this cartoon is, even still. I’d recommend going back and watching this if you were a fan, or better yet, if you missed out.

I guess that about wraps things up. Before I go though, I’ll of course remind you that I’d loooove to hear your thoughts on the 1994 Spider-Man series. Were you a fan like me? Did you hate the show for some odd reason? Let your voices be heard! And as is tradition, feel free to bring up ANY cartoon you’d like to reminisce about. Perhaps this blog reminded you of another similar cartoon that you loved. Let us know about it! All cartoon talk is welcome; encouraged, even. And don’t forget to look through the character gallery I quickly threw together, below!

<3

--JJWeatherman

40 Comments
41 Comments
Posted by JJWeatherman

For anyone reading this that's not informed: I'm writing a series of blogs about cartoons. My loose plan is to feature one cartoon per blog and tell you--dear reader--why I love each featured cartoon. We can then proceed to recall the 'good ole days' of our respective youths.

Full series:

  • Part 1 -- "Hey Arnold!"
  • Part 2 -- "The Magic School Bus"
  • Part 3 -- "Rugrats"
  • Part 4 -- "Spider-Man" (You're reading it!)

I’ve been going back and forth on how exactly I should approach this blog. Initially I wanted to tell you everything I could about the featured cartoon, but then I realized that that’s not really what this blog series is supposed to be about. Not to mention how totally boring the first 600 words I initially wrote ended up. I can be a little slow sometimes, but I eventually remembered what I initially wanted these blogs to be, and what I wanted them to accomplish when I first started this mini-series several months ago. I started this series to look back at a cartoon of my youth and have some fun remembering what exactly I spent so much time watching while growing up. My secondary objective was--and is--to hopefully entertain you all as well, while simultaneously sparking some interesting discussion about whatever cartoon I happen to be taking a look back at. Let’s all jump into my little text-based time machine and take a look at a one of the many cartoons that filled my childhood with joy. I hope you all can relate!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten one of these blogs out there. I’d always planned on continuing this series, but found my memory of certain cartoons to be lacking. Well, that’s not the case any longer with the 1994 Spider-Man animated series. A little while back I found myself frustrated with my routine internet-focused lifestyle. To combat this frustration, I decided to take a break from all normal internet activities. Of course I figured I had to entertain myself somehow, and that’s when I turned to Netflix and watched all 65 episodes of the 1994 Spider-Man, totalling approximately 21.6 hours of showtime. What better time than now to write about it, huh?

I guess we’ll get right down to it: The 1994 Spider-Man animated series is still an absolute delight to watch. Being able to say that even now probably explains why I loved watching it as a kid. Despite a few minor shortcomings like “framey” animations and the occasional cheesy one-liner dialog, this is a very well produced and interesting cartoon. For the record, I’m not the biggest comic book guy, but from what I hear this cartoon stays rather faithful to the comics in terms of plot points and whatnot. There’s a metric ton of interesting, recognizable characters that make appearances, and not exclusively from Spider-Man either, but from other Marvel properties as well. A gallery of important character photos can be found at the bottom of this post for your viewing--and hopefully nostalgic--pleasure. It really is an excellent cartoon, even to this day. Very entertaining and worth watching. With all of that said, let’s look at just a couple of individual episodes that I found to be particularly interesting.

The symbiote attacks the astronauts on their way back to Earth.

I’d have to say my favorite Spider-Man villain ever is pretty easily Venom. I always loved how crazy and scary he was as a kid. I remember having a Venom action figure or two as well. When you get right down to it, the whole symbiote plot is especially interesting. For these reasons, let’s talk about Season 1, Episode 7 - The Alien Costume: Part 1. In this episode you’re introduced to the symbiote that will eventually become Venom. The episode starts with a couple of astronauts mining some kind of asteroid. They get more than they bargained for when they accidentally bring a living black ooze onto their ship and back to earth. This ooze turns out to be an eeevil symbiote that must find a host to bond to in order to survive. Initially, it chooses Peter Parker. This is where the infamous black suit spidey comes from. This was something that was actually covered in the recent live action feature films as well. Anyway, this is a really fun episode and one of my favorites due to how Peter and Spider-Man alike change while under the influence of the symbiote. Black suit Spider-Man is much more powerful and able to do a lot more than OG Spider. Beyond that though, watching Peter act like a total dick is also a good time. It’s obviously a complete departure from his natural personality, and that makes it especially entertaining. Peter calling Flash Thompson a bonehead while they fight over Felicia Hardy is especially humorous. Peter just has a “take what I want” attitude that provides a nice little change of pace from his regular routine. I kind of wish there was a bit more of that. This episode ends before the symbiote has a chance to bond with Eddie Brock to form Venom, but it’s the start of all of that, and a great episode.

Spider-Man's chosen allies.

Really, there aren’t many episodes NOT worth watching, but I’m going to go ahead and skip to one of the final episodes: Season 5, Episode 9 - Secret Was Chapter 1: Arrival: Part 1. They sure do know how to name titles; lots of colons, lots of dashes. Anyway, this is one of the last episodes in the series. The end of the series really goes out with a bang though, so I’d hate to not talk about these closers a bit. So there are three “Secret Wars” episodes. These involve Spider-Man being transported to another universe (or something) to be tested in an epic battle of good vs. evil. Spider-Man is taken by a man known only as The Beyonder and told he’s going to have to defend a planet from evil. Spider-Man doesn’t know that this is all just a test for his final challenge, taking place in the final two episodes of the series. But anyway, the reason I love this set of episodes so much is because of who all is involved. Over the course of the cartoon, several Marvel characters are introduced and fight alongside Spider-Man. Characters such as: Daredevil, Blade, The Punisher, Ironman, and the X-Men all make appearances. This episode brings great groups together on both sides of the fight. The Beyonder selects such villains as Doc Oc, The Lizard, Dr. Doom, and even the Red Skull. Spider-Man then gets a chance to select his own super team to help him take on these foes. Spider-Man brings in such characters as Storm, Ironman, the entire Fantastic 4, and of course Captain America. This is just a really fun episode full of super hero and super villain collaborations. Those are never not fun, and that holds true here. Just lots of good action as Spidey learns to be a leader in order to fight off all dat evil. One of the more interesting episodes for sure, and it leads into the final few episodes of the entire series, which are all great as well.

I’ve talked about a very early episode as well as a very late one. There’s mountains of amazing episodes between these two I chose to talk about, though. Really, I started watching this expecting to get through maybe six or seven episodes. Boy was I surprised to make it all of the way to the end. Despite my obvious nostalgia for this cartoon, I think my making it all of the way through is still a strong testament to how watchable and genuinely great this cartoon is, even still. I’d recommend going back and watching this if you were a fan, or better yet, if you missed out.

I guess that about wraps things up. Before I go though, I’ll of course remind you that I’d loooove to hear your thoughts on the 1994 Spider-Man series. Were you a fan like me? Did you hate the show for some odd reason? Let your voices be heard! And as is tradition, feel free to bring up ANY cartoon you’d like to reminisce about. Perhaps this blog reminded you of another similar cartoon that you loved. Let us know about it! All cartoon talk is welcome; encouraged, even. And don’t forget to look through the character gallery I quickly threw together, below!

<3

--JJWeatherman

Posted by FinalDasa

Wow, this would be great on some sort of TV and Movie website :P

Online
Posted by JJWeatherman

@FinalDasa said:

Wow, this would be great on some sort of TV and Movie website :P

Hey, yeah! Or better yet, a comic book site! I wish I knew of some sites like that...

Posted by FinalDasa

@JJWeatherman: :P

Online
Posted by Lucifer

As Someone who grew up with the 90's cartoon and is a huge Spider-man fan. I honestly think that... 
 
The spectacular spider-man show was better. 
  

Posted by Mento

Why isn't this called Cloudy With A Chance of Cartoons?

If you're doing any more animated superheroes, you should probably cover Bananaman. Skip to 1:30 if you need an explanation why.

Moderator
Posted by JJWeatherman

@Lucifer: Haven't seen it yet! The first season's on Netflix, but I haven't started it yet. It looks good, so I'll take your word for it. BTW, new Spider-Man is coming this Fall. Voiced by Drake Bell. ...Yeah.

Posted by JJWeatherman

@Mento said:

Why isn't this called Cloudy With A Chance of Cartoons?

If you're doing any more animated superheroes, you should probably cover Bananaman. Skip to 1:30 if you need an explanation why.

Because that would be too easy. And too lame. And things.

Also, dear lord, Bananaman...

Posted by Sarumarine

Yeah, this cartoon was awesome. I always enjoyed that opening theme.

And this goes for most shows, but my favorite seasons are usually in the style of the early X-Files where it's just a main character (or a crew) go around running into strange things and solving cases. The first time Spider Man goes up against The Lizard and Mysterio are pretty memorable to me. I tend not to like when things get so serious with some crazy plot (or more so than usual) where the stakes are ratcheted up so high it's hard to have fun anymore. The stuff with Venom was alright, but the plot with Madam Web, side dimensions, and other Spider-Men got old quickly.

Still, when they did their crossover with the X-Men that was fantastic.

Posted by Yamoto

Comics are trash and so is comic vine  
thats all i have to say

Edited by Lucifer
@JJWeatherman: It's not wastly more superior by any means. It pretty much comes down to preference really. Both shows have their strong points, not being cancelled is one of the 90's show. But the incrediblie attention to detail and respect to the source material just makes me like the spectacular version a bit more. Did i mention the animation in Spectacular is absolutely stunning? Totally crushes any doubts i had about the series artstyle and a small sacrifice for such fluid looks. 
 
Also the whole Drake Bell thing.. Well, I guess we just have to wait and see.
Posted by RandomInternetUser

I fucking loved that series!  I've watched almost the entire thing again on Netflix.  Very enjoyable.

Posted by Ramone

@Yamoto said:

Comics are trash and so is comic vine thats all i have to say

Bellend

Posted by JJWeatherman

@Sarumarine:

but the plot with Madam Web, side dimensions, and other Spider-Men got old quickly.

All that stuff was also mostly right at the end of the series, though. If it got old, show was over anyway. :P

@Lucifer said:

@JJWeatherman: It's not wastly more superior by any means. It pretty much comes down to preference really. Both shows have their strong points, not being cancelled is one of the 90's show. But the incrediblie attention to detail and respect to the source material just makes me like the spectacular version a bit more. Did i mention the animation in Spectacular is absolutely stunning? Totally crushes any doubts i had about the series artstyle and a small sacrifice for such fluid looks. Also the whole Drake Bell thing.. Well, I guess we just have to wait and see.

Yeah, if there was one pretty weak point for me in this 1994 series, it was the animation. Usually it was decent, but sometimes it was kinda awful.

And yeah, Drake Bell. I actually heard a clip of him doing the voice and it wasn't too bad, so we'll see.

Posted by Daveyo520

I was watching some of this last night. I loved that show as a kid.

Posted by TurboMan

Yup... this show rocked my seven-year-old-world

Posted by JackSukeru

Having never read any of the comics, this show is the basis of my knowledge of anything spiderman. I really dug it, though I never saw more than the first episode of those final heroes vs villains episodes unfortunally.

I really liked the Venom episodes too, but I remember that due to some weird episode scheduling on the channel where I watched it, I wasn't able to catch the third part of the series for a long while.

Posted by Galiant

Nice read! I should watch the entire show sometime, I only caught a few episodes when I was a kid. I remember liking the part where his mutation gets out of hand...and Venom, ofcourse.

Will you be taking a look at Batman: TAS as well? That would be awesome =)

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Isn't this the Spider Man cartoon where he was never allowed to swing a punch thanks to the television sanitation push of the early 90s? Just saying, as someone who never really watched much of this (or X-Men, for that matter) as a kid, that doesn't seem to bode confidence for "Quality superhero cartoon!" in my book. But maybe I'm wrong, considering that the general quality of superhero cartoons in the mid-00's wasn't so hot either. Ah well. We all know that Batman The Animated Series is the gold standard of any sort of superhero cartoon or cartoon in general anyways.

Posted by JJWeatherman

@Galiant said:

Nice read! I should watch the entire show sometime, I only caught a few episodes when I was a kid. I remember liking the part where his mutation gets out of hand...and Venom, ofcourse. Will you be taking a look at Batman: TAS as well? That would be awesome =)

Ah, yes. I forgot to include a picture of giant nasty mutant Spider-Man. Then again, I forgot a lot of pictures. But yeah, those were good episodes.

And I'm not sure I'll do one on Batman. I remember that one fondly too, but my mind has saved almost no details. Maybe that's on Netflix too!

@ArbitraryWater said:

Isn't this the Spider Man cartoon where he was never allowed to swing a punch thanks to the television sanitation push of the early 90s? Just saying, as someone who never really watched much of this (or X-Men, for that matter) as a kid, that doesn't seem to bode confidence for "Quality superhero cartoon!" in my book. But maybe I'm wrong, considering that the general quality of superhero cartoons in the mid-00's wasn't so hot either. Ah well. We all know that Batman The Animated Series is the gold standard of any sort of superhero cartoon or cartoon in general anyways.

Who needs punches when he's swing-kicking and web-blasting his way to victory? It works. Doesn't feel like anything's lacking.

Edited by JCTango
@JJWeatherman: Sweet, JJ!  I loves me some good ol' cartoons from back in the day for us 20-30 somethings xD.  I never did get to watch much of Spider-Man back then, but I did watch a crap tonne of TMNT and Batman TAS!  Hope those will be down the pipeline soon :D.
 
BTW did they ever make a cartoon series just based on Venom or Carnage themselves?  I always digged those two characters... wish there were more cartoons based on villains or antivillains/heroes these days...  I mean there ARE cartoons for teens+ :)
Posted by jkuc316
I couldn't get into this, I saw some episodes on Disney before and never liked it. Spectacular Spider Man, however,  I loved. Oh and the old X-Men, that was my favorite Superhero cartoon back then.
 
I am also excited about the new ULTIMATE Spider Man. Thanks for showing to me the vid before @JJWeatherman!
Posted by firewrkninja

i vote you do teenage mutant ninja turtles next

Posted by N7

I loved this show to no end when I was a kid. I sat there every day for Fox Kids and I watched it happily so.

I can remember almost all of them too.

Ah, Spider-Man. <3

Posted by JCTango
@firewrkninja: Heh yeah!  TMNT and X-Men  :).
Posted by jewunit

I was in the middle of a Spider-Man-induced comic frenzy when this show started, so I regard this show quite fondly.  One of the aspects of the comic that the show does well is characterizing the heroes and villains with motives, good or bad, that drive them in appropriate ways.  It was a joy to watch all these characters that I had read in the comics in full motion.  However, the show did have a couple slow spots.  I was not a big fan of the Smythes and the Madame Web episodes dragged a bit too.  The show took plenty of liberties with the comics, but they did so in interesting ways captured the spirit and could be summarized in an episode or episodes.  I remember the show having a lot of multi-part episodes.  It was generally pretty good about putting together cliffhangers, but it made waiting until the next Saturday such a pain.  I guess that's the sign of a good TV show.

Edited by I_smell

I came here to read about Spider-Man but I just read the first 2 paragraphs and this is a blog about some dude on the internet!

I finally got to the bit where you started talkin about the cartoon, and the first thing you said was that it had "framey animation". ugh!

Anyway this was my favourite cartoon for a while when I was in school, and it solidified everything about Spider-Man to me. Now when I see him crackin wise and clownin around all the damn time I'm like "come on Pete, what the fuck, that's not Spider-Man". I get that he's a teenager and he's a pretty casual guy, but in stuff like Marvel Ultimate Alliance he's just annoying.

I think everyone in this show did a great job with voices. Peter Parker had a great voice for being cool-fun-adventure guy, but he had this specific terrifying voice that he kept reserved for certain situations, like when Mary Jane went missing, or when he fought the symbiote. It really freaked me out as a kid and it made the characters feel more real than in any other cartoon.

I thought the last few episodes were just about the most badass thing in the world, and OMG HE MEETS STAN LEE.

This cartoon had a few characters that just felt super weird: Kraven the Hunter? That whole episode about vampires? What was that about!? But it was nowhere near as bad as the X-Men cartoon. I couldn't watch X-Men cos it just got too nuts. They'd go to a different dimension in another galaxy every damn episode.

Posted by Gerhabio

I watched this but always thought it rather ugly. It was ok.

Posted by wefwefasdf

@Yamoto said:

Comics are trash and so is comic vine thats all i have to say

I would expect someone who can barely type to not like something that requires some basic reading skills.

I'm loading up Netflix now to start re-watching this show. I forgot how good it is!

Posted by crusader8463

95% of what I know about the marvel universe I learned from growing up watching that show and the X-Men cartoon. I loved the hell out of them. I have been wanting to give it a watch, but I'm pretty sure it will fall into the category of being one of those shows that don't hold up as well as I remember it. So I'm going to keep putting it off for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Hizang

This is my favourite cartoon, I really love it, the Hob Goblin is the best!

Posted by JJWeatherman

@Hizang said:

This is my favourite cartoon, I really love it, the Hob Goblin is the best!

Did you know he was voiced by Mark Hamill? I thought that was pretty crazy. I guess it explains how his Joker voice was so good in Arkham Asylum.

Posted by Hizang

@JJWeatherman: Yup, man I loved that show, it has the best Spider-Man as far as I'm concerend. Also that episode that featured the X-Men was really awesome because I loved that show too.

Posted by donkeyscrotes

Ah man, Spectacular Spider-man is so good. If you enjoyed this series you'll love Spectacular. Shame it got cancelled...

Posted by GetEveryone

Aw, man, I'm getting a severe nostalgia hit now. 
 
Between this, the other Spider-man show and Batman: TAS, I have a load of 90s cartoons to rewatch. There go my evenings...
Posted by GetEveryone

Did anybody ever watch Gargoyles? I remember absolutely loving that when I was 7 or 8. 
 
No idea if it holds up... 
 
Fairly sure my undying love for TMNT is completely unwarranted.
Posted by JJWeatherman

@GetEveryone: Gargoyles was great. It may still hold up, but I haven't seen it in a while.

Posted by CaptainObvious

Oh man I fucking loved that show as a kid.

Posted by rbysjti

I'm so happy Spider-Man chose Storm to help him

Posted by TaliciaDragonsong

I liked the episode where all the different spideys get together a lot, great fun.

Posted by CaptainTightPants

When I found out this  series was on Netflix I dropped EVERYTHING. I loved watching the show when I was younger but I only ever saw some episodes here and there ( A lot of the time they were repeats.)