It seems like every week I stumble across some new and awesome cartoon; this weeks being the Ultimate Spiderman. It first aired April 1 on DisneyXD, so I know I’m a bit late to the game on this one; but 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 EP’s, animation cred 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 Spiderman!
This iteration of our favorite web slinger features Peter Parker still in high school, a younger role than his silver screen counterpart. It breaks quite a few “rules” of entertainment all which result in a quite funny base upon which to build each episodes action. They break the 4th wall and do asides, narration, and backstory directly to the audience.
The aforementioned asides take the form of almost family-guyesque “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 on that extra pinch of sacrin to those already cutesy scenes. They open up the entire Marvel world as a sandbox from which they pull characters, villains, and storylines. Of course you get your Spidey centric interactions thru 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 and Thor, and even an over arcing plot where Spidey is recruited, trained, and leads a squad for SHIELD.
What you wind up with is a smart, funny, and entertaining little show that comes off a little lighter than Young Justice and is totally entertaining for both kids and adults alike. The storylines are mostly self contained which is good in a kids show least it gets bogged down in a serial episodic nature and self imposed continuity (which I think works awesome in a more serious show, again like Young Justice) and keeps the story’s 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 curtesy of smodco veteran Scott Mosier of View Askew notoriety; as well as some awesome art and animation.
It really is a joy to watch, perfect popcorn television; and this is coming from someone who is neither traditionally a fan of Marvel or Spiderman. Ultimate Spider man is entertaining without taking itself too seriously, all while carefully walking that line not to cross over into corny or condescending. Clear animation and well choreographed battles only add to the fun; as we see all the toys in the Marvel toybox come to life in what could be a nearly unending spring of storylines. Check it out currently OnDemand or Sundays at 11am on DisneyXD!