“You don’t find the Fantastic Four in the sewers” - A quote by Spider-man (one of several) referencing the greater Marvel Universe, within his 1994 Animated Series. The MCU before the MCU. For me, like for so many others of my generation, Spiderman 1994 was my main introduction to the franchise that is "Spider-Man."

Now, granted, at the age of seven years old, I did actually purchase my first ever Spider-Man comic book at a flea market for fifty pence (UK). But for the most part, (two years later, when I was nine) this animated show was my first step into this hobby and the world of Marvel.

The book I originally purchased was Amazing Spider-Man #6. (The first appearance of The Lizard - my all-time favourite Marvel character!)

This show is still a PERFECT entry point for new (young) fans!

This show offered us kids a streamlined set of stories, very much like those of the comic books before it. Splicing the otherwise individual tales, smoothly together to make a concise and continuous series.Producer John Semper (A true Believer, whom we all owe a lot to!) wrote/co-wrote sixty of sixty-five episodes, and was determined to not simply make this show "just one large toy advertisement for toy biz" (whom had a controlling stake in Marvel at the time).

Side Note: John Semper made the Spider-verse long before Dan Slott had written any Spider-man comics and long before Sony made any movies.

Now, despite being a faithful addition to the already established Spider-man law set out by Marvel Comics, the show did actually make some changes. Changes I would argue that a lot of Spidey fans believe to be comic book cannon to this day.
These include but are not limited to:

  • Eddie Brock being a news reporter, an occupation that was never his in the original comics but has since been included in the movies.
  • Deborah Whitman no longer being a love interest to Peter; within the comics, she works out that Peter is Spider-man and is driven crazy because of it.
  • The Neogenic Recombinator (A radiation machine); This plot device was completely made up for the show and was used to explain multiple story events. Within the series, this device transforms Peter into Spider-Man, Doctors Connors into The Lizard, and Michael Morbius into the Living Vampire.
  • No Gwen Stacy (Well, she is in one episode...); Instead, we have Felicia Hardy being brought into the story early as a love interest,  filling in for that role before becoming The Black Cat. This also spared the studio from having to do the iconic death scene for the character.
  • Uncle Ben is never said to have been murdered, but the weight of these emotions is there with our hero. This obviously makes a lot of sense, what with it being a kid's show.
  • The Hobgoblin was introduced before the Green Goblin in order to sell more toys. Avi Arad, the owner of Toybiz, who held a large controlling stake in Marvel at the time was extremely eager to push new toys and wanted to use the animated show simply as an advertisement to children.
  • Censorship from network; Over the years, John Semper has defended this case, stating that Spiderman didn't receive any additional restrictions from the network regarding violence compared to any other animated show at the time. However, rewatching the show now as an adult you can certainly notice that Spider-man barely throws or lands any punches and kicks. Instead choosing to simply web his victims. Guns are (for the most part) drawn in a futuristic style and fire laser beams. No glass is ever broken. Villainous characters want to "Destroy" Spider-man as opposed to "kill" him and Michael Morbius: the living Vampire, feeds upon “Plasma” via suction cups on his hands instead of using his Fangs...
  • Despite the above-mentioned Censorship, They nailed the Venom and Carnage Stories!
    - Obviously being a kid's show, they couldn’t have characters such as Venom and Carnage going around on killing sprees. So instead of making Carnage a Serial Killer (As with the Comics) they instead paired him off with the demonic character Dormammu and had him absorb "life force.

The show was near perfect with cool animation and an epic soundtrack! Yes, a few scenes here and there were clearly re-used animation and the CGI cityscapes are questionable nowadays, but for its time, this was up there with the likes of the X-Men animated TV series and Batman.

In fact, the title font and logo from this show were actually used in the comics,
as well as on all other memorabilia released at the time.

Speaking of comics, the show received its own adaption titled: Spider-Man Adventures. Weird, right? A show based on a comic getting its own comic?

This comic book run, based on the popular Fox kids television series, sadly only ran for fifteen issues and was published between December 1994 and January 1996.

These comics were directly adapted from all thirteen episodes of the first season of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (With the exception of the final two issues, which were original stories.)Spider-Man Adventures #1 "Night of the Lizard" (December 1994)Spider-Man Adventures #2 "The Sting of the Scorpion" (January 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #3 "The Spider Slayer" (February 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #4 "Return of the Spider Slayer" (March 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #5 "The Menace of Mysterio" (April 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #6 "Kraven the Hunter" (May 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #7 "Doctor Octopus: Armed and Dangerous" (June 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #8 "The Alien Costume, Part I" (July 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #9 "The Alien Costume, Part II: Paint it Black" (July 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #10 "The Alien Costume, Part III: Coming of Venom" (September 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #11 "The Hobgoblin, Part I: Bad Luck & Trouble" (October 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #12 "The Hobgoblin, Part II: Takin' it to the Streets" (November 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #13 "Day of the Chameleon" (December 1995)Spider-Man Adventures #14 "Ock Rocks" "Into the Mystic" (January 1996)Spider-Man Adventures #15 "Jungle Stalkings" (January 1996)Fun Side note: Mini versions of the first four issues were later released with boxes of the cereal Froot Loops!

The animated show ended after five Seasons and unfortunately left us on a HUGE cliffhanger. Yes, they did return for a new series; Spider-Man Unlimited - See my previous article: The Forgotten Spider-Man, for more on that. But we fans want and NEED to know what happened to Mary Jane!

The X-men are returning to Disney Plus soon with an updated series: X-men '97, which is set to be a continuation of their animated show that runs alongside Spider-man. Could we maybe see Disney do the same with this one? Do the rights with Sony even allow it? I hope so!

Additional Notes:

The voice acting in this show is incredible and should Disney choose to bring it back for Disney Plus, I really hope we can convince some of this talent to return. Christopher Daniel Barns was, pardon my pun: AMAZING as Spider-Man and is still the voice I hear in my head as I read Spider-Man in comics. Mark Hamil as the Hobgoblin was Superb! Hank Azaria (of Simpsons fame) was incredible as Venom, And the voice actor for Wolverine is also the voice I hear for that character when I read comics too.

Tell me, Do you younger readers of this blog hear animated Wolverine or Hugh Jackman in your heads when you read the comics?

I LOVE this show and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. So much so, in fact, that one of my most valued possessions within my collection is John Semper's original copy of Episode One's Storyboards: Night of the Lizard.

*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.