Retro Marvel TV
Marvel's Not-So-Awful Animation of the 80s

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 27 Aug 2014 12:15
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SPIDER-MAN (1981-82)
Alright, let's clear this up: Marvel Productions made two different Spider-Man cartoons in the 1981. The better known of the two, Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, aired on NBC on Saturday mornings. But this series, featuring a solo Spidey and a singular title (but the same basic style, animation assets and similar sound/music) debuted at the same time but aired in syndication markets. An episode of Amazing Friends' third season established it as a sequel to this series, though the continuity doesn't precisely line up.

As for the show? It's pretty good -- effectively a faithful but kiddie-friendly adaptation of the college-age Spidey stories of the (then) most-recent comics. It's also the first time that Peter Parker appears in animation with a modern hairstyle (he'd typically kept his 60s crew-cut) and the turtleneck shirts John Romita is said to have preferred drawing for him -- the better to hide a spider-suit.

Marvel's edict for its 80s shows was to go whole-hog on the Universe angle, and Spider-Man sets the example by packing its episodes with Marvel guest stars. Along with plenty of classic Spider-Man friends and foes, other Marvel fixtures like Doctor Doom, Magneto, Ka-Zar, Sub-Mariner and even Thor's mortal identity of Dr. Donald Blake make appearances. Of note: The episodes featuring Doom formed an overarching story about the dictator trying to ransom the U.N. while Spidey worked with a Latverian resistance movement to undermine him.

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