There's a "Spider-Man"
cartoon on MTV. I found it surprising -- the only thing weirder than seeing
a "Spider-Man" cartoon on MTV would be seeing a music video on MTV.
As I watched, I expected a teenage girl to appear in a bubble at the bottom
of the screen and go "I'm Kristin from New Jersey and I think Spider-Man
is cool because he rocks! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
MTV used to be a hotbed for animation, with not-for-children animation like
"Aeon Flux." But that was back in the old days, when a jackass was
a person who hurt himself doing stupid things, not a show about people who hurt
themselves doing stupid things. "Spider-Man" might be the first show
to get me to watch MTV for a whole 30 minutes since "Remote Control."
One of the good parts of the show is that one of the guys in charge is Brian
Michael Bendis, the writer of Marvel Comics' "Ultimate Spider-Man."
How novel; someone from the source directly working on an adaptation. I don't
really know if the series exhibits any of Bendis' particular writerly skill.
But the dialogue of the main characters, all young college age, doesn't seem
stilted and Spider-Man's lines are very funny.
So far, the show's opening montage ("You think being a superhero is hard?
Try going to college" or something like that) has dealt with Peter Parker's
troubles moreso than the actual series, which has been mostly action-stuffed.
It's more actiony than the Spidey cartoon from the '90s. That one really got
into Peter Parker's emotional stuff, and was really good. But it's most notable
to me for figuring out a way to bring the The Punisher to a Saturday morning
cartoon. So far the only angst on the MTV cartoon is Harry Osborn's, who spends
every moment when he's not with the other characters mumbling "Spider-Man
killed my father...."
My compliments on the voice casting. Spidey and Harry are played by former
TV "dramedy" actors. Neil Patrick Harris, the actor who's probaby
sick of people thinking his name is Doogie Howser, is a good Pete. Ian Ziering
is born to play rich brat Harry Osborn. He had lots of practice for the role,
since Ziering played rich brat Steve for several decades on "90210."
Everyone else is played by musicians. Mary Jane Watson is Lisa Loeb, who sang
"Stay (I Missed You)" in that movie where I learned to hate Ethan
Hawke. Rapper Eve is Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat. Rob Zombie will play Curt
Conners, the Lizard. Consider this a suggestion that they get Marilyn Manson
to play Morbius, the Living Vampire. (Actually I'd rather hear Alice Cooper.
C'mon. He's available.)
The only non-musician villain is Kingpin, played by Michael Clarke Duncan
in a neat bit of synchronicity with the "Daredevil" movie (he's black
here, too, but he's drawn as the sumo-size comic Kingpin with different flesh-tone).
Unlike "X-Men: Evolution," which is good in its right but pretty
different from the source, this series is perfect for people whose only exposure
to the characters is the Spider-movie. The series seems to directly sequelize
the movie -- the three main people are in college, Harry's father is dead, Pete
and MJ are just friends. The strongest episode I've seen takes a well-known
Spidey enemy from the comics and recasts him as a troubled college kid.
The animation is all done on them new-fangledy computers, like "Final
Fantasy" and "Reboot." The Spider-Man scenes are awesome -- totally
cool. Spidey fights and zips around on his web line in energetic, dizzying style.
Spider-Man vs. Bad Guys In A Car is a classic set piece in the comics, done
and redone lots of times. In the above-mentioned episode, it's a thrill ride.
But the animation backfires during the non-Spidey scenes. Every character
moves like they're doing The Robot, and they all have wandering, googley eyes.
Too bad Spidey can't be Spidey the whole time. So really, it's good that the
show is action-centric and not talky. Otherwise, it's like staring at video
game cut-scenes and you can't make them stop.
So now "Spider-Man" is all big-time, on MTV, with celebrity voices.
Good. But it seems way over the heads of the MTV audience. I hope it lasts despite
its total lack of people going into alcoholic comas or groping each other in