Today’s new release Tuesday brings us the Bluray/DVD drop of Ultimate Spider-Man!
It seems like every week we hear of something getting canceled on the animation front. It’s really nice to see Marvel animation thriving and picking up their game in a market traditionally dominated by DC. Ultimate Spider-Man first aired April 1, 2012 on DisneyXD with little fanfare; I was only exposed to it after a Kevin Smith interview with the creator/writer team on the show: Man Of Action (Ben 10, Generator Rex). Spidey is getting some major comic heavyweight treatment with Paul Dini and Jeph Loeb as Executive Producers, animation credits from Joe Quesada, and cameos in every episode from Stan “The Man” Lee (who plays the school janitor of all things)! Suffice it to say that even out of the gate this isn’t your parents’ Spider-man!
This iteration of our favorite web-slinger features a Peter Parker still in high school, a younger version than his silver screen counterpart. It breaks quite a few “rules” of entertainment, all of which result in quite a funny base upon which to build each episode’s action. They break the fourth wall and do asides, narration, and back story directly to the audience.
The aforementioned asides take the form of almost Family-Guy-esque “hey, you remember the time…” type jokes which, surprisingly, don’t come off as stale, repetitive, or redundant. They even alter the animation style to more of a chibi anime to add that extra pinch of saccharin to those already cutesy scenes. The series opens up the entire Marvel world as a sandbox from which the creators pull characters, villains, and story lines. Of course, you get your Spidey-centric interactions through villains like Doc Oc, Venom, and Dr. Doom, but you can also expect to see mentions of Iron Man and Captain America, team-ups with The Hulk, Wolverine and Thor, and even an over-arching plot where Spidey is recruited, trained, and leads a squad for S.H.I.E.L.D.
What you wind up with is a smart, funny, and entertaining little show that comes off a little lighter than Young Justice and is entertaining for both kids and adults alike. The story lines are mostly self-contained which is good in a kids show, lest it gets bogged down in a serial episodic nature and self-imposed continuity, which help keeps the stories light.
There is a clear sense of good guys vs. bad guys which feeds perfectly into the shows style. The audience is also treated to some clever writing, puns, and one liners courtesy of SMODCO veteran Scott Mosier of View Askew notoriety, as well as some awesome action sequences.
It really is a joy to watch, perfect popcorn television (and this is coming from someone who is neither traditionally a fan of Marvel nor Spider-man). Ultimate Spider-man is entertaining without taking itself too seriously, all while carefully walking that line not to cross over into corny or condescending. Clean animation and well choreographed battles only add to the fun, as we see all the toys in the Marvel toy box come to life in what could be a nearly unending string of storylines.
Bonus features are set to include four shorts done as advise-centric PSA’s about teamwork, nutrition, the rules of the road, and texting while web-slinging. Corny? Yes, probably; but they should still be humorous and not bad advice for kids. I still have my old free Spider-man comics used as anti-drug campaigns, so it’s good to still see Supers used as role models. Excelsior!