At some point in your early school days you inevitably have the careers conversation when a teacher asks what you would like to be in the future. Some kids will pick jobs such as train driver or astronaut, whilst the sensible pupils will choose jobs like lawyer or doctor.
Whenever I was asked I would always answer ‘Spider-Man’, followed by a stern bollocking for taking the mickey. But that was never my intention. As children you are always told fluff phrases like “nothing’s impossible” and “you can do anything as long as you put your mind into it”, and believe me when I say that, if that were true, then I would now be web-slinging my way around Manchester city centre in a lovely red and blue ensemble. Even now I use my Spider-Man toothbrush every morning and when I saw a replica Spider-Man costume on eBay for £1000 my first thought was how I could possibly get the money together to buy it, and I probably would’ve worn it for work. It’s safe to say that I’m quite a fan.
I’m pretty sure that I first became aware of Spider-Man (or at least became a fan) by watching Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends animated series in the early 80s. Me and two mates would always recreate the show, leading to fights about who would be which character, with one poor sod having to be Firestar (with I’m sure some concerned looks from our parents).
Throughout the years there have been what seems like an infinite number of Spider-Man cartoons, so I should probably let you know which one this is. This is the classic Spider-Man cartoon. The 60s Spider-Man. The one with the theme tune that everyone and his dog, and cat and ring tailed lemur knows.
Now, although I’m a massive Spider-Man fan, I wouldn’t say that I have what you would call an encyclopaedic brain on all things web related. Up against any uber fans I would be put firmly in my place, but I like to think I have a decent knowledge of storylines and characters. Not that it does me any good watching this DVD. Pretty much all plot developments are completely unrecognisable. Sure J Jonah Jameson pops up at the Daily Bugle and in one episode Captain Stacy makes an appearance, but most of the other characters I’m completely unfamiliar with.
After some exhaustive investigative work (well, five minutes on Wikipedia), I found out that between series one and two there was a change in personnel in the production. Ralph Bakshi (he of the animated versions of Fritz The Cat and Lord Of The Rings fame) came in and with him were some changes.
Once Bakshi took over the reins, out went the classic villains to be replaced with some truly bizarre agitators. Don’t be expecting to see Spidey tangle with Doc Ock or go toe to toe with the Green Goblin in these episodes.
I appreciate that in the late 60s and early 70s, folks were tinkering with mind altering substances but heck, they don’t excuse some of the random characters on display here.
Prepare to see Spidey face up against a conquistador in the Andes, a lightening throwing giant being used to rob banks, and don’t get me started on the green cavemen natives of a Skull Island -ype far away land.
He also comes across a lady with his powers that ends up belonging to a family of aliens that have crashed landed on Earth. Incidentally, Spidey finds this out by chasing her spaceship from New York to…fuck it, I have absolutely no idea where. It’s the cartoon equivalent a bad acid trip. Absolutely stark raving bloody mental.
Oh, and if you’ve ever wished to see Spider-Man fight a bright red Tyrannosaurus rex, then your dreams have been answered. As mentioned, mental.
When you add into the mix a script that sounds like a 60 -ear-old trying to write young hipster speak, a swinging coffee shop that even Austin Powers would shy away from, and Spider-Man himself talking in Shatner-speak, you end up with something that’s camper than a row of tents at a Hi-de-Hi convention.
There’s no denying the surreal entertainment value on offer here, and you’ll definitely come away with moments of unintentional laughter (keep an eye on the misspelt jewellers in the title sequence), but if you’re after familiar Spider-Man storylines I would suggest sticking to series one…
Has to be said, though, that the theme tune still frigging rules.
Bonus features? None. Nothing. Zilche. Nadda.
Spider-Man Season 2 Volume 3is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.