"Spiderman. Spiderman. Does whatever a spider can. Spins a web, any size. Catches thieves- just like flies. Look out! Here comes the Spiderman! Is he strong? Listen, bud. He's got radioactive blood. Can he swing, from a thread? Take a look overhead. Hey, there! There goes the Spiderman! In the chill of night, at the scene of a crime. Like a streak of light, he arrives just in time! Spiderman. Spiderman. Friendly Neighbourhood Spiderman. Wealth and fame? He's ignored. Action is his reward. To him, life is a great big bang-up. Wherever there's a hang-up, you'll find the Spiderman!"The primary signature character for Marvel Comics, Spiderman, or Spider-Man (Spidey, for short), is the alter-ego of Peter Parker, science student at a New York City university. While witnessing a radiology experiment on one fateful day, Peter is bitten on his hand by a spider exposed to the radioactive field generated by the experiment and later finds that he has acquired the spider's wall-scaling, leaping, and extra-sensory abilities, in addition to increased endurance and strength. Peter knits for himself a red-and-blue costume and mask and produces a web-spinning fluid enabling him to swing from building to building above the streets of Manhattan.
Peter's Uncle Ben is murdered by a burglar, a criminal who earlier ran past Peter at a television studio to which Peter had come to exhibit his spider-abilities. Peter selfishly declined to help the police to stop the fleeing malefactor and is to a significant extent responsible for the death of his uncle. Peter, in his Spiderman guise, finds, punches, and webs the murderer. Now aware that he has received his powers for a higher purpose than exhibition for monetary gain, Peter accepts his duty as a costumed fighter of crime, a responsibility that he vows never again to fail. To financially support his Aunt May, Ben's widow, Peter becomes a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle newspaper as an aside to his continued studies and his responsibility as Spiderman to the good people of New York City. Peter does not allow anyone, not even his aunt, to know that he is Spiderman. The Daily Bugle publisher, a cigar-smoking, self-righteous, blustery chauvinist named J. Jonah Jameson, has a jaundiced view of Spiderman's heroism and wields considerable influence with the city government and police force. So, Spidey must constantly be wary of the police whom he is helping, usually retaining the villains that he catches in a web for police to apprehend after he has left the capture scene, and attaching a note with an appropriate pun in regard to the crook and which says that the capture was courtesy of "Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spiderman".
Peter often uses his intimate involvement with his alter-ego's pursuit of villains to obtain exclusive photographs of the criminals, their evil deeds, and their capture, and provides the photographs to an incredulous Jameson, who, though he prints the pictures, usually manages to negatively spin-doctor Spiderman's involvement and magnify his own importance, much to Spidey's good-natured annoyance and the objection of Spidey's admirer and Peter's friend, Betty Brant, Jameson's feisty secretary.
Meanwhile, in Peter's continued university life, he encounters eccentric professors whose unauthorised, dangerous experiments result in calamity that only Spiderman can remedy, and he experiences frustration with girl-friends who accuse him of cowardice every time that he must leave them in the midst of a dire situation so that he can privately change into Spiderman.
Spiderman is the creation of Marvel Comics' founder Stan Lee and one of the earliest super-heroes to be featured in graphically illustrated magazines, or comic books, under the Marvel Comics name. The protagonist being a youth still learning about the ways of the world was quite innovative as a comic book premise, because before the advent of Spidey, most super-heroes had been mature, fully educated scientists prior to gaining their special abilities, for instance the members of The Fantastic Four and atomic researcher Dr. Bruce Banner, who transforms whenever angered or outraged into the Incredible Hulk. The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and Spiderman were Marvel Comics' most successful magazine publications in the mid-1960s, but Spidey's popularity eclipsed that of the others, probably because children and teenagers, the majority of comic book buyers, identified best with young Peter Parker. Discussions commenced between Marvel Comics and the American television networks on a possible television life for Spidey, and, in 1967, Spiderman web-swung from comic book preeminence to his own television show.
The first season of Spiderman was the work of Grantray-Lawrence Animation, a cartoon factory in California founded by veteran Hollywood animators Grant Simmons and Ray Patterson. Simmons and Patterson hailed from the cartoon studios of Walt Disney, Walter Lantz, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and from arguably the best years of theatrical cartoon production, their work having included contribution to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's popular and highly acclaimed Tom and Jerry cartoon shorts. The third partner of their team, Robert Lawrence, was an accomplished administrator in Hollywood film studio operation. Under the employ of Grantray-Lawrence for Spiderman were director Clyde Geronimi, who had helmed several Walt Disney Productions feature films, and Warner Brothers cartoon veteran Sid Marcus, who also served as cartoon director on Spidey's first foray onto television. Among the Grantray-Lawrence Spiderman cartoon animation staff were former Walt Disney Productions animators Hal Ambro (The Jungle Book) and Harvey Toombs (Peter Pan). Grantray-Lawrence was contracted by Krantz Films and Marvel Comics to yield 52 half-hours of Spiderman for the U.S. ABC television network but went bankrupt after the first season of 20 instalments, and so was the remainder of the 1967-70 Spiderman television series completed in New York City at Krantz Films by new executive producer Ralph Bakshi.
Bakshi introduced to Spiderman techniques of economised cartoon animation, such as superimposing lip movement over otherwise static characters and repeating animated action against changing backgrounds, in strict adherence to the reducing production budget and to deliver episodes to ABC as per the increasingly rushed timetable specified by the television network. In the interest of variable background, Bakshi chose to guide the exploits of Spidey into the realm of outlandish and "trippy" science fiction and fantasy, resulting in a widely divergent contrast of style between Season 1 and the subsequent episodes of the Ralph Bakshi New York City unit.
Season 1 is more formulaic than its successors. It tends to focus on the interaction between Parker, Brant, and Jameson at the Daily Bugle; in fact, Brant and Jameson are in every episode of Season 1 and make only sporadic appearances in Seasons 2 and 3. Also, Season 1 usually features villains from Spidey's comic book adventures, among them Dr. Octopus, the Lizard, Mysterio, the Vulture, the Scorpion, the Green Goblin, and the Sandman. In the other two seasons, few of the classic comic book villains are used.
Stylistic changes between Seasons 1 and 2 are most evident in the look of the episodes. The Daily Bugle is a more spacious, less cosy workplace in Seasons 2 and 3, and several episodes have an autumnal motif coincident with such evidence of urban rot as tattered, old posters on fences and neglected alleys. Opposed to the cloudless, light-blue sky of most first season entries is the overcast gloom of Seasons 2 and 3. Seemingly impenetrable, multi-coloured, dark clouds serve as nihilistic backdrop to Peter's anxiety as a studious youth in the freewheeling, psychedelically sensual culture of the late 1960s, to Spidey's adventures in exotic places and times, and to his battles against madmen with somewhat more grandiose schemes than those of the man-creature (e.g. the Vulture, the Scorpion, the Rhino, etc.) antagonists of Season 1.
Titling of episodes is different, also. In Season 1, all stories begin with a brief prologue that reaches a high point of action or suspense, followed by a title card with unfancy, yellow letters set against a screen-spanning spider web, behind which are New York City metropolitan buildings and blue sky. Episodes of Seasons 2 and 3 are without prologue, their titles immediately appearing in typewriter-style, white lettering of various degrees of size, amid a Moonlit, nighttime pier. One could be tempted to refer to Season 1 entries as "web" episodes and to those of Seasons 2 and 3 as "piers". In "The Origin of Spiderman", the pier is the location to where Peter, having been bitten by the radiation-exposed arachnid, drives his motorcycle and pauses to think about the amazing feats of which he has found himself to be capable in the previous hours. In further episodes of the second season, Spidey web-swings past this same pier. The webbing-and-skyscrapers background was used for the closing credits in Season 1, and second and third season instalments all end with credits printed against the pier. Titles for third season Spidey adventures stay on screen somewhat longer than do those of Seasons 1 and 2. This may have been in reaction to complaints by younger viewers that they had not had enough time to fully read longer titles.
Due to limited budget and reduced time for production, many third season instalments reused cartoon animation heavily from episodes of Seasons 1 and 2, to the extent of practically repeating the storylines of episodes from the former seasons, and two episodes, one in Season 2 and the other in Season 3, incorporated a bulk of cartoon animation from the Rocket Robin Hood (1966-9) television series, whose grimly impressionistic visual style of later episodes is strikingly similar to the Season 2 and 3 Spiderman.
Before the closing credits of each episode, Spidey tells to the audience what will transpire on "next week's show". In Season 1, scenes from the upcoming episode accompany Spidey's description of his next adventure or, in most cases, adventures, in that 18 of the 20 Season 1 episodes consist of two self-contained, separate stories. In Seasons 2 and 3, there are no scenes from the upcoming episode coincident with Spidey's voice-over. Instead, a montage of rapid cuts from Season 1 was used. Spidey's descriptions are not always correct. His "next week's episode" statement for "Rhino"/"The Madness of Mysterio" erroneously forecasts the second of the two stories to be "The Scorpion and the Spider", featuring not Mysterio, but the Scorpion, no doubt in a planned reconstituted story using cartoon animation from one or both of Spidey's Season 1 conflicts with the Scorpion.
Spidey's first television series was initially broadcast in the U.S. on Saturday mornings on ABC. The first episode to be telecast was "The Power of Doctor Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey" on September 9, 1967. For the full run of Season 1 in 1967-8 and of the second season in 1968-9, Spidey was seen at 11 A.M. Atlantic Time. ABC's last Saturday morning broadcast of Spiderman was on August 30, 1969, with 39 half-hour episodes (many with two separate stories) having been transmitted. The web-swinger went on hiatus until the following March, when a third season began a six-month run, from March 22 to September 6, 1970, on Sunday mornings, at 11:30 Atlantic Time. "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension" was not included in ABC's broadcast of Season 3, and speculation is that incidence of death, spatial spookiness, and extreme psychedelia were the reasons for ABC's censorship of this episode. The first season adventures, "Sting of the Scorpion"/"Trick or Treachery", were repeated in its stead. Season 3's thirteen episodes were added to the 39 prior instalments in the syndication package to be distributed hereafter.
Spiderman's acting talent was based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, provided by members of a voice artist company led by Bernard Cowan. The rationale for eschewing Hollywood and opting for Canada with regard to voice work was purely monetary, as residuals over an indefinite time period were demanded by the Screen Actors' Guild in the United States, while no such requirement existed in the utilisation of Canadian talent. A lump sum of money paid to Cowan's group at the time of their involvement in the production was sufficient for perpetual television transmission of their services. Cowan was the dialogue director, narrator, and voice of some supporting characters. Paul Soles, remembered by Canadians as the Lawbreaker on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's mid-1970s television series, This is the Law, was both Peter Parker and Spiderman. Peg Dixon gave vocal life to Betty Brant and various of Peter's love interests, and Paul Kligman's distinctive, high-pitched, nasal voice is heard in the rants of J. Jonah Jameson and several villains. Gillie Fenwick, who voiced the Sheriff of N.O.T.T. in Rocket Robin Hood and played butler to Jack Palance in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968), went uncredited for his work as Doctors Smartyr and Conner and the catly sorcerer, Pardo. Likewise without credit were Len Carlson as Captain Stacy, Chris Wiggins, lead actor in television's The Swiss Family Robinson (1974-5), as Mysterio and Fifth Dimension overlord Infinata, and Tom Harvey, a regular cast member on the Bizarre comedy television series of the 1980s, as Master Vine in "Vine", the radiation specialist in "Specialists and Slaves", and some of the New York City officials and policemen.
Perhaps the most famous aspect to the 1967-70 Spiderman is its opening and closing theme song, which was performed by a vocal group to lyrics written by Paul Francis Webster and quick-tempo instrumentals performed by Bob Harris- and published by Buddah Music, Inc..
Episodic musical scores became increasingly moody from season to season, with particularly eerie compositions for "Menace From the Bottom of the World" and "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension", 1960s dance music for stories ("Swing City", "Criminals in the Clouds", "Diamond Dust") involving Parker's school life, dramatic drum music and symphonic bursts and crescendos for the onslaught of "Blotto", and horn toots accompanying the prowl of the giant cat in "Pardo Presents". Some of the tunes for Spiderman were library music used in The Fugitive (1963-7), Doctor Who (1963-89), and some American Public Service Announcements. The haunting melody heard when Spidey first enters Mole City in "Menace From the Bottom of the World" and while he is being "iced" in the nuclear freezer in "Cold Storage" was a regular fixture of the soundtrack for the 1980-1 season of Dallas (1978-91).
Below is a complete episode guide for Spiderman.
Season 1The most objectively accurate, least contentious notation that can be made of the first season of Spiderman is consistency. Quality of production began at a certain standard and, with few exceptions, stayed that way throughout the 20 instalments, among which, all but 2 of them with paired stories, there were no episodes that strayed from the level of limited though fairly polished cartoon animation and intricate storytelling that was there in the first televised unit of two stories. Grantray-Lawrence established an aural-visual aesthetic from which the first Spidey season never deviated, and that, from a nuts-and-bolts-production point of view, is perhaps the best compliment that can be extended to any cartoon animation team. Stories, for the most part, were dependably structured, even when a few times offering some quite uncanny foes for the web-spinner, by keeping the action within present-day and conventional Marvel Comic boundaries. There is no web-swinging into other times or dimensions, and the menace posed by the standard Marvel Comic type of criminal element or rare gigantic creature was mostly understated, and contained without a large degree of panic, mayhem or destruction. Mood stayed upbeat, even while some macabre machinations were afoot, for instance those of the Green Goblin. This is the most "workmanlike" of the three seasons, least experimental, and that is perhaps why the standard stayed "on the mark", and a reason why critical opinion at large seems to generally favour Season 1.
"The Power of Doctor Octopus" and "Sub-Zero For Spidey" seem to be an unusual pair of stories with which to launch the animated cartoon television version of the web-swinger. Though in one of them Spiderman is a captive of his enemy for awhile, which is unusual for Season 1, they do appear to be a couple of Spidey outings that could go anywhere in the first season. "The Menace of Mysterio" seems to better set the television series into motion, as the viewer is presented with a villain capable of impersonating the super-hero, and Spidey's extended effort to "clear his name", with some rather lengthy web-swinging scenes, affords to the viewer plenty of occasion to become acquainted with the milieus (e.g. the streets of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge) of Spiderman's home metropolis. Further, the first time that Peter and Betty Brant are shown together is with Betty on station in Jameson's office, so that the relationship of the two characters is immediately placed in context. And it is established by "The Menace of Mysterio" on Jameson's first appearance that J. Jonah is not an admirer of Spidey, that he has never believed in Spiderman, that he always thought Spidey to be a menace to society. Plus, the episode-ending scene with Spidey confronting J. Jonah defines the antagonism between them that would last through this season. Jameson's first dictate to Peter in "The Menace of Mysterio" establishes that Peter is a newspaper photographer as such is stated by Jameson. And Jameson's news report and his editorial portrayal of Spiderman as a self-seeker of criminal intent is clearly presented here as a valid reason for Spidey to be wary of law enforcement officials, even when he is, in many other cases, not under suspicion for a specific offence. In all of these ways, "The Menace of Mysterio" is a better candidate for first Season 1 broadcast than is "The Power of Doctor Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey".
Which is not to say that "The Power of Doctor Octopus" and "Sub-Zero For Spidey" are not effective Spidey stories in their own right. "The Power of Doctor Octopus" accurately presents a villain from the colourful pages of Marvel Comics, ensconced within a gadget-filled cavern, chaining Spidey and later Betty as captive, and proceeding with a plan to detonate the water, natural gas, and electrical outlets beneath the edifices of New York City as a demonstration of his capability to literally undermine the public security and economic health of the Western world. And "Sub-Zero For Spidey" is chillingly impressive in its depictions of trees, buildings, and the walls of a house turning to ice and rather bold to suggest that planet Pluto has Jack Frost-like iceman inhabitants of towering size. The resolutions to both stories are rather easy, in one of them bringing events to a conclusion because the alien beings are found not to have hostile intent and only wish to return to their home world, having abducted the one scientist capable of assisting them in this endeavour, and in the other finishing with Spidey discharging a key-like web into his and Betty's handcuff locks, shooting forth a sticky webbing to obstruct the vision of the tentacled antagonist, and then with more webs binding Doctor Octopus and all of his arms to a metal beam in the cave, with Betty summoning police to apprehend the evil doctor. But the excitement of watching Spidey in action against Doctor Octopus and against the as yet unknown motivation of the savant-capturing ice creatures, and the limited though polished animation and overall aural-visual stylishness of the entire two stories cannot be denied.
"Where Crawls the Lizard" offers a view of the Everglades in Florida, a lovely mix of yellows, browns, and greens, as background for another Marvel Comic storyline brought to animated cartoon format. Spidey travels to the southern U.S. state in response to reports of a Lizard Man lurking in the Everglade swamps, learns that a reptile researcher name of Conner is missing, and suspects that Conner's experimental swamp fever cure serum may have transmuted the Floridian scientist into the humanoid reptile. The man who changes into the Lizard in Marvel Comics' story is named Conners and not Conner and in Marvel Comics is without one of his arms whereas Conner in "Where Crawls the Lizard" has all of his limbs intact. Still, "Where Crawls the Lizard" offers a generally satisfying portrayal of an iconic Marvel Comics Spidey adventure, the web-spinner battling another man of science's biologically-induced alter-ego. However, its companion in the second instalment of Spiderman Season 1 is a rather un-distinctive and rather less inspired outing for Spidey. Indeed, Electro burglarising Jameson's house and jewelry stores in his introduction story, "Electro the Human Lightning Bolt", is not as interesting as his hijacking of the metropolitan power supply in "Kilowatt Kaper". Spidey is blamed by Jameson and sought by police for Electro's thievery, resulting in skirmish between Spidey and the N.Y.P.D., but the crimes of Electro in this episode still pale when compared to his attempt to control the entire New York City's stores of vital energy.
The trend in Season 1 is for villains to appear as Spidey's central adversary in two separate stories. One notable exception to this is the Sandman, whose only foray into the world of 1967-70 televised Spiderman is in "Sands of Crime". Of the two stories in which the other villains are performing their dastardly deeds, one tends to be much more exciting and memorable than the other, usually due to some more elaborate and imaginative condition, action, or intent of the antagonist, such as the Scorpion growing gigantic, or the Vulture holding Jameson as a hostage and a grudging information provider inside of a clock, or Electro being Manhattan's would-be energy baron, or the Rhino building a solid gold statue of himself. The other story, i.e. that without such cogent and distinctive elements, tends to be rather nondescript beyond perhaps introducing a Marvel Comics villain to viewers of the 1967-70 Spiderman. "Never Step On a Scorpion", for example, shows the standard-sized titled villain, newly conceived in collaboration between Jameson and a Doctor Stillwell, chasing and attacking Spidey and doing damage to a fuse box and a sign, then turning against Jameson, resulting in a pair of all-too-fleeting fights between super-hero and antagonist at the Daily Bugle office. Rather unsatisfying compared to "Sting of the Scorpion", i.e. the Scorpion becoming a colossus who carries Jameson away from the Daily Bugle building and into Central Park, where he is confronted by Spidey and the military.
"Never Step On a Scorpion"/"Sands of Crime" is preceded by "The Sky is Falling"/"Captured By J. Jonah Jameson". "The Sky is Falling" presents the Vulture and his abilities of personal aviation and control over other flying creatures, but is otherwise a lacklustre offering. The arguably best part of it, a tussle between Spidey and Vulture on a building construction site, occurs not at climax but less than halfway through the story. The Vulture's intent of aerial hegemony over Manhattan is rather more compelling in the third season retread of much of this story because of the darker and more variable colour therein to the skies, a more apropos backdrop to the unnerving menace of increasing flocks of shrieking birds of prey than the clear, cloudless blue airspace of this first season entry. Spidey's solution to the Vulture's added two million dollar extortion scheme involves the placing of a transmission jammer onto the Vulture's head, thereby thwarting the Vulture's bird-control and turning the wrath of predatory fowl against the Vulture, is rather unsatisfying. How did Spidey attain such a device? How has it been attuned to the precise wavelength to obscure or block that of the Vulture's bird-control signal? And why do the birds then instantaneously turn against the Vulture? Retribution for his having dominated them? Do birds have such an impulse? It is a too-convenient outcome to a story that, despite the Hitchcockian threat of a massed feathered assault, lacks a palpable feel throughout of siege intensity and spreading fear. "The Vulture's Prey" is rather more iconic as a Spidey-against-Vulture story, for the Vulture has captured Jameson, holds the Daily Bugle publisher hostage inside of a clock, and is proceeding, with information provided under grudging duress by Jameson, to perpetrate heists of jewels and military equipment. It is not a flock of birds but the Vulture himself who perpetrates all of that story's villainy. And the threat throughout "The Vulture's Prey" to Jameson as Peter and Betty ponder as to their boss' whereabouts is conveyed with efficiency. Spidey's webbing and capture of the flying fiend is all too quick, unfortunately, but in the sum of its parts, "The Vulture's Prey" is the superior Vulture story.
"Captured By J. Jonah Jameson" is similar to the next instalment's "Never Step On a Scorpion" in that J. Jonah allies with a scientific genius to arrive at something capable of ridding the world of Spiderman. Jameson's associate here is a robot inventor named Smythe. This surname is same as that of the creator of Marvel Comics' Spider-Slayer machines. "Captured By J. Jonah Jameson" is a fast and furious story that grabs the viewer and never relents as Spidey desperately flees the powerful clutches of the Smythe device controlled by Jameson (whose face is imaged in the robot's head). Unless Spidey can elude the unrelenting mechanism, his secret dual identity and probably even his crime-fighting career will be ended. The title of the story suggests that Spidey may indeed lose in this harrowing encounter with his newspaper-publishing nemesis' weapon, preserving the suspenseful and exciting effect of the chase through Manhattan and to a beach and back into metropolitan areas. Spidey's climactic solution after being braced within the metal arms of the robot is to utilise his "brains and the suction power of (his) fingers" and pull open the hatch to the robot's circuitry and yank the wiring of the robot out of its sockets, and Jameson's despondent frustration at discovering that Spidey has outwitted him is played to perfection. The similar story premise of "Never Step On a Scorpion", in the next Season 1 instalment, aptly coincides with the happenings of "Captured By J. Jonah Jameson", going one step further with Jameson's intended Spidey-eradicator turning against J. Jonah, and the overweening Daily Bugle publisher needing Spidey's help against the lethality of the Scorpion's crushing tail, and then of course disregarding Spidey's heroic role in ending the frightful experience. Featuring a slinky, saline Marvel Comics villain's one and only appearance in this Spiderman television series, "Sands of Crime", paired with "Never Step On a Scorpion", is a rather humdrum jewel robbery and extortion caper, notable, if at all, for the climactic battle between Spidey and Sandman in a rock quarry.
"Diet of Destruction" presents a rare divergence from the visual style and story formula of Season 1. There is an experimental, unusual look to the character designs. Jameson, especially, is given high cheekbones and a more vertically elongated, rectangular face than usual, yielding a forbidding, austere appearance. With this combined with a wider than expected opening of the mouth during his rants, J. Jonah does look somewhat frightening. Parker's facial design is different also from Season 1 standard. Also more elongated, giving to him the impression of a still higher intelligence than already demonstrated. And there are scenes of Spidey in which there is starker contrast and reduced curvature of tips of his black eyes against the red of his head mask. Expansive, varied spacings between buildings and diverse architecture of some such edifices, some rather squat and square rather than the usual rectangles, is also a "Diet of Destruction" distinction. And the walking, 30-foot-tall, metal-eating, havoc-raising, uncommunicative "furnace mouth" is a monstrosity that would not be out of place in a Season 2 or Season 3 episode. Within the fairly "even keel" of Season 1's consistent-conventional visuals and thievery-criminality story style, "Diet of Destruction" is rather an anomaly. And its episodic mate, "The Witching Hour", contains a more saliently diabolical than usual machination by a villain and a notably nasty clash between him, the Green Goblin, and Spidey in Jameson's office, with Spidey being clobbered in the face at close range by a file cabinet component and one of the sides of Jameson's desk. The latter facial impact induces unconsciousness for the web-spinner, who is very nearly captured by the N.Y.P.D. summoned by Jameson to the Daily Bugle, and would have been in police custody had he not regained consciousness when he did. "The Witching Hour" has a rather subtle thematic connection to its instalment partner. Jameson becomes entranced while unwittingly reading the Goblin's written incantation, the last words thereof being "mondas infernus". Two words that imply a world afire. Coming after a story concerning a walking, flaming furnace, a hellish motif- albeit technological in its physical being, this allusion to Hades, from where the frowning-ghost demons of the spirit world are evidently being summoned by the Goblin, provides an exquisite coincidence between same-instalment stories. Visual style of "The Witching Hour" is more aligned to the overall look of the first season than is that of "Diet of Destruction", though the fight scene in Jameson's office is of a more violent nature than normal for Season 1.
"Kilowatt Kaper"/"The Peril of Parafino" are a pair of stories beginning with a prison inmate's escape. In his endeavour to bring the convicts back to jail, Spidey must be careful of where he steps for there might be electrical charge or sticky wax underfoot. In this duo of nocturnal, prison escape storylines, Jameson is more cantankerous with Peter than he has been until this time, going so far as to declare Peter's employment terminated, and is undeterred from this decision even after Betty reminds J. Jonah that Peter is a freelancer, and not a staff member. Electro's prison-break and subsequent commandeering of the New York City energy supply is punctuated by a distinctly harrowing encounter at the Manhattan power station, with Spidey nearly being sliced and diced by turbine blades after Electro's emitted energy bolt breaks the web-swinger's arachnid's tether directly above one of the power generators. The climactic battle between Spidey and Electro in Times Square, watched from the street by Jameson and N.Y.P.D., is exciting, although it is expected that Spidey's improvised new webbing formula, on which Peter has been busily occupied much to Jameson's frustration, will somehow withstand Electro's energy emissions and capture the live-wired n'eer-do-well. Red Dog Melvin, the on-the-lam convict in "The Peril of Parafino" is the secondary villain of that Spidey outing, covered in wax and in suspended animation for most of the story time frame. Parafino has centre stage as Spidey's ruthless antagonist. A wax artist who, in the tradition of the Vincent Price and Lionel Atwill movies about macabre goings-on at wax museums, has no qualms against exhibiting statuary of real human bodies beneath layers of the greasy, hydro-carbonic element. Spidey and Betty are captives of Parafino in a thrilling climax above huge vats of hot wax, pitting Spidey's web-power against the flex-resistance and dagger-forming capability of gobs of wax thrown by the sinister artist, followed by an unheralded, therefore surprising storyline twist just when Spidey and Betty believe that Parafino has been thwarted. Within "The Peril of Parafino" are some uncharacteristic, for Season 1, continuity errors, involving the names inscribed on pedestals in the Parafino wax museum. Red Dog Melvin is assigned a pedestal in Parafino's display room, but the name on the pedestal changes spelling from Melvin to Melvan from scene to scene, and Spidey's pedestal splits the two parts of his name onto two lines in some scenes but not in others.
Next in the run of Season 1 episodes, "Horn of the Rhino" is a full-length story with Peter grappling with a viral respiratory infection and frequent sneezes during his effort to halt the Rhino's thefts of component parts to a weapon, whilst Jameson's frets constantly about Peter's unavailability for photographic missions, due to Parker's illness as reported to Jameson by a feisty Aunt May. J. Jonah eventually decides to himself do photographer's duties, beneath the guise of a fake beard so as not to be recognised as a revered newspaper publisher stooping to the plebeian duty of cameraman. Jameson's beard falls from his face directly in front of a member of the Military Police, one who does not know Jameson's identity and thinks that he has caught a "real, live spy." The ranting and raving J. Jonah is jailed, eventually bellowing within his prison cell that, "It's all the fault of that hypochondriac teenager." All of this yields an entertaining, episode-spanning Spidey story. However, what the Rhino is doing, and his motivation, could be better conveyed to the viewer. The device that he is assembling, though said to be the most powerful weapon in the world, is a rather unimpressive, hand-held cube. Yes, sometimes size matters not, but the weapon lacks any defining markings, circuitry, gears, or other protuberances that usually signify a weapon of mass destruction. There is no indication of how this obscure, hand-held cube can ravage the world more effectively than the bulky atomic warheads in the arsenals of the superpowers. And what, exactly, does the Rhino plan to destroy with it, anyway? How much destruction? And to what exact purpose? Extortion of money with which to control the world? Killing world leaders so that he can usurp their position? The audience puzzles as to the Rhino's motivation and to the weapon's specific means and capacity of destructive power. The Rhino's gold heists and vain construction of a glittery self-image in "The Golden Rhino", though nowhere near as threatening as an assembled weapon of large-scale-destructive capability, forms a rather more lasting visual imprint upon the minds of viewers, in addition to offering a more cogent, self-gratifying motivation for the antagonist. And "The Golden Rhino" features as many Spidey-versus-Rhino confrontations of battle over a shorter period of screen time. What "Horn of the Rhino" has in its favour is an as-usual fairly competent standard of animation and character design, efficient portrayal of building frustration in Jameson's world, leading to an amusing predicament for the hot-tempered publisher, and a clever, climactic application by Spidey of sneeze-inducing pepper, added to Peter's soup by Aunt May in earlier scenes of this episode, to bring the Rhino's muddy world crashing down around the horned villain. It is a pity, though, that the contested object, the assembled weapon, of "Horn of the Rhino" has such an unimpressive appearance, and the Rhino's plans for it insufficiently defined.
Following "Horn of the Rhino" was a veering away from Marvel Comic villains for four instalments in which the foes for the web-swinger are unique to this Spidey television series. First came the Jameson-robbing Australian hunter, Harley Clivendon, and his Aborigine accomplice, the latter a stereotype for savage natives of exotic lands and the reason why "The One-Eyed Idol" and its instalment companion, "Fifth Avenue Phantom", have been barred from broadcast in some television markets. By anonymously bestowing to Jameson the gift of an small idol, Clivendon has injected a Trojan Horse in the wealthy newspaper publisher's midst. The idol projects from its eye a beam of light that hypnotises Jameson, rendering him susceptible to Clivendon's radioed (through the idol) suggestions that Jameson loot his own wall safe and place the money in the head of the idol for the wall-scaling Aborigine to collect at a later time. The graven image-object's light beam emitted from its eye is a motif link to what the Phantom's feminine robots do with their optical areas. They, too, discharge lights from their eyes. In their case, shrink rays. Like the Jawa creatures of Star Wars, the Phantom is garbed in a hooded cloak, his face represented within the darkness of the hood only by a pair of sparkly eyes. Miniaturisation, the method of the Phantom's elaborate scheme to plunder full-scale furs, furniture, and automobiles from metropolitan department stores and smuggle the merchandise in the guise of toys out of the targeted vendors' places, is a quite bold concept for the first season of this Spidey television offering. It recurs in a rather more menacing vein in Ralph Bakshi's third season story, "The Birth of Microman". The Phantom's robots posing as department store mannequins, giving him instant access to the interiors of department stores and the there-contained inventory, accords with the Trojan Horse's purpose of Clivendon's idol. Presented here is an interesting pair of stories with original villains, an un-politically-correct henchman, and feminine robots that predate the ones on American television's The Bionic Woman by 9 years. Yet, there are some quibbles to be had with "The One-Eyed Idol"/"Fifth Avenue Phantom". Peter's voice in one scene sounds like that of Spiderman while he talks for several seconds without having first donned the Spidey mask, there is an exaggeratedly thick, black outline of the Daily Bugle building during a nighttime scene, and Spidey's super-heroic resolution of the criminality before him is in both cases rather dubiously choreographed. In the midst of climactic battle between Spidey and Clivendon, Spidey is shown as being able to dodge Clivendon's handgun bullets and to halt in mid-motion and disable in mid-air a spear thrown at him at fairly close range by the roguish stalker of the Outback, abilities that one would think would be beyond the scope of Spidey's radioactive-spider-transferred power. And in the action scene at the climax of "Fifth Avenue Phantom", Spidey too easily, by a few jerky moves, evades the combined assault of the shrink rays of three of the Phantom's robots and web-swings rather slowly over them to a position from which he has an unobstructed web-spin aim at the Phantom, who merely stands still as though caught by surprise by Spidey's speed of movement. Yes, the Phantom obligingly stands still with his back to Spidey, turning around too late to avoid the encumbering webbing that denotes his capture. He also conveniently drops his robot control for Spidey to pick up and switch off. The animation is polished, but the action is unsatisfying.
"The Revenge of Dr. Magneto" and "The Sinister Prime Minister" constitute the next instalment in this Spidey television series. Both involve ordinary (i.e. non-hybridised) men as antagonists. Dr. Magneto could be seen as something of a template for many of the villains of Seasons 2 and 3. A disgraced and vengeful genius with a pseudo-scientific way of causing amazing and menacing things to happen. A magnetising gun is Magneto's instrument, and it can instantaneously induce magnetic properties in anything specifically selected and de-magnetise objects with equal precision, enabling Magneto to wreak havoc on lighthouse beacons, railway tracks, and statues perched precariously at high altitude. In the climactic meeting of superhero and villain at a science Hall of Fame, whose interior layout will be reused for the Cosmopolitan Museum in Season 2's "Diamond Dust", Spidey asks whether Magneto ever considered helping people with his scientifically engineered power, as Spidey has done with the abilities that he has. Peter Parker, as will be presented in Season 2, was selfishly tempted to pursue selfish goals but learned early in his life as Spiderman that he requires a social conscience and an unswerving sense of public responsibility. Alas, some extraordinarily endowed individuals are unable to transcend the desires of their own egos, and their abilities become perverted and evil. Says Spidey on the note that he attaches to the webbing-entangled Magneto following the confrontation at the Hall of Fame, with Spidey's anti-magnetic web fluid prevailing over the doctor's gun, "For the most misguided use of scientific knowledge your Friendly Neighbourhood Spiderman elects this candidate."
"The Sinister Prime Minister" is a run-of-the-mill impostor storyline, not as interesting as its sequel, "Double Identity", because here the impersonator, renowned actor Charles Cameo, is effecting his make-up-disguised and deceptive techniques on only one usurped personality, that of the leader of an obscure foreign country. Jameson, of course, is bamboozled by Cameo's performance, prepared to donate two million dollars to that country, and in Cameo's scheme, directly to Cameo's evil coffers. This story, however by-the-numbers and bland in concept, boasts some excellent scenes, with Spidey using his webbing as a dog muzzler and, attached to a couple of trees, as an armoured-truck-stopping roadblock, and thwarting Cameo on board an aeroplane by lassoing his webbing to blocks of gold bullion and thrusting said gold into Cameo's rotating-blade cane weapon and then webbing Cameo and cane. And immediately following such dramatic statements by Peter/Spidey as, "Time for Spiderman to swing," and "The airport's my last chance," is some quite rousing music.
Parafino returned for "The Night of the Villains" wherein Spidey is confronted by some of history's most fearsome personages, i.e. Blackbeard the Pirate, Jesse James, and the Executioner of Paris, all automated wax figures conceived by Parafino, who remains in the shadows at his museum for the majority of this story. How Parafino managed to avoid or leave prison after his prior machinations had resulted in his capture, is not stated. Spidey suspects that the historical figures committing daring robberies are of wax construction, but only during his tussle with the Parisian beheadder, the last of the three infamous evil-doers to face Spiderman in battle, does Spidey act on his astute theory, scraping his finger along the arm of the webbing-encumbered Executioner and finding on said finger a drippy, milky substance. "Yup, just as I thought. Wax." The time at which Spidey started to consider that the "outdated villains" are made of wax and that he is not hallucinating due to lack of a needed, overdue vacation, is not precisely shown. It would seem, though, to be sometime between the encounters with Jesse James and the Executioner. The inevitable Spidey visit to Parafino's museum for the climactic battle with the criminal mastermind, is rather disappointing for the ease by which Spidey immobilises the historic villains trio and pins Parafino to a wall with Parafino's own wax. And how did the Executioner escape Spidey's webbing and return to the museum in advance of Spidey's arrival there? Unless Parafino has another Executioner wax robot, this is a problem of story. Spidey destroys the robot controls, doing so with swift and un-stalled action, putting Parafino's "robotised dummies" out of commission, and Parafino throws gobs of wax at Spidey, who spins a giant webbing scoop to hurl the accumulated wax at Parafino. Some climaxes could do with a bit of protracting, and this is one of them, for it is a suggested impending fight, Spidey versus the combined forces of Parafino and the villains, that does not quite deliver in the excitement department. Common of 1967-70 Spiderman's first season, Spidey presents the captured wrong-doer to Jameson, who spent the bulk of this story blaming Spidey for the robberies being committed by Parafino's villainous minions. Animation throughout the story is efficient, and the museum is ably rendered eerily atmospheric. Story structure, unfortunately, has a niggle or two, and it, though providing some engaging intrigue about "history's greatest villains", comes across as rather less thrilling than "The Peril of Parafino".
In any case, "The Night of the Villains" is a compelling companion to this same instalment's "Here Comes Trubble", these two stories presenting post-Renaissance or ancient mythic creatures as fantastic thieves, their criminal acts instigated by a person lurking within a building in Manhattan's business district. Miss Trubble, bookstore owner, is an aficionado of antiquities and all things mythological. She possesses a magic chest from which she summons into present-day reality a centaur, Cyclops, and Great Vulcan, God of Fire. Each of these denizens of mythological domain are given a thoroughly white appearance to appear statuesque, and each disappears in a billow of smoke following their manifestation in Manhattan. Miss Trubble orchestrates the theft of a three-headed dragon-like figurine, Sir Baris, Watchdog of Hades, and it comes alive in the same way as Trubble's other mythological menaces, by way of the power of the magic chest, to protect her bookshop from a probing visit by Spidey, who is suspicious of Miss Trubble because of her incessant pestering of uninterested Jameson that she write a regular column on mythology for the Daily Bugle. Miss Trubble interrupts Spidey's search of her premises, and this story's climax is truly frightening as Spidey's legs and hands are wrapped in gold chains thrown at him by Vulcan and is then the target of hot coals hurled in his direction by the same Fire God. Spidey dodges the coals, which hit the Trubble store's bookshelves, turning Miss Trubble's Book Corner into an inferno. Vulcan strikes Miss Trubble into a dazed condition on the bookshop floor when she tries to order him back into the magic chest. An indeed rare instance of physical violence against a woman in this animated cartoon Spidey television series of the 1960s. Vulcan and the chains binding Spidey disappear as the magic chest overheats in the fire, and Spidey carries Miss Trubble outside of the blazing building in narrow advance of an explosion. "Here Comes Trubble" is a triumph of visual design of settings and mythological monsters, compelling references to ancient myths and motifs, adept characterisation (Miss Trubble, says Jameson, is one woman who, "...lives up to her name.", and Peter says that the austere dragon-lady Trubble reminds him of Jameson), aptly creepy atmosphere, and riveting, tension-building story structure. Outstanding Season 1 Spiderman.
Same cannot be said of what is offered in the next instalment. "Spiderman Meets Dr. Noah Boddy" revisits the ridiculed, disgraced scientist motivated by revenge type of storytelling territory pioneered by "The Revenge of Dr. Magneto", but less interestingly, for all that Noah Boddy seems interested in doing is avenging himself upon Jameson, who had negatively editorialised Boddy's theories of invisibility. The resultant storyline consists of a series of thieving crimes committed by the unviewable Noah Boddy (kudos at least go to the witty name given to the transparent villain), with circumstances invisibly manipulated by Dr. Boddy to portray Jameson as culprit. What destruction or threat thereof occurs is in the Daily Bugle press room as canisters of ink and printing presses are thrown by Noah Boddy at Jameson. Invisibility is a daring concept, but it could do with rather more widespread menace than the humiliation and false incrimination of one man, and Jameson's blaming of Spidey for the evil quantity's deeds and Spidey's unthanked efforts to help Jameson against a villain's wrath is more than a little predictable and tiresome by this stage in this Spiderman television series. "The Fantastic Fakir" is a clunky story of jewel theft and impersonation of a foreign leader by immobile facsimile, perpetrated by a horde of turban-and-dagger Arab stereotypes led by one of their ilk who possesses a magic, animal-and-lifeless-object-manipulating flute. All that Spidey needs to do is kick the flute out of the hands of "The Fantastic Fakir" and expose said Fakir's masquerade of a mannequin-like dummy Maharajah of Jin Jhamir, for the stolen jewel to be returned to its rightful owner. The viewer is subjected to 8 mainly plodding minutes before such does happen.
Yet more infamous historio-literary-mythical figures surface in "Return of the Flying Dutchman"/"Farewell Performance", this time as hoaxes. Projection from a piece of filmic equipment or a magician's trickery. Both of the presumed apparitions, the famed ghost ship- the Flying Dutchman, and Mr. Hyde of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", hail from the nineteenth century. Mr. Hyde seems to creepily advance out of the paper fibre of a theatre poster. A faithful viewer by the time that he is watching these two stories is likely to remark a few things. There does seem to be quite a propensity for thunderstorms in the New York state region shown in Grantray-Lawrence's Spiderman. Previously captured and presumably convicted villains tend to reappear in this Spidey television series with no mention of how they came to be free of incarceration. And Jameson seems to be not only a publisher of a newspaper but a wielder of some considerable sway in municipal affairs. It does often seem like he himself governs New York City. These are two quite charming and appealing stories, the full resolution of one achieved with the opportune assistance of a likable sea Captain and the other concluded with Spidey joining, or collaborating, with the portrayed antagonists of most of the story, in aid of a worthy cause.
"I think ghosts are fun," says Betty. And although proven fake, they indeed are fun, especially when presented with the slyly menacing aplomb as they are in these stories. The return of Mysterio in "Return of the Flying Dutchman", though not as exciting and problematic on a personal level for Spiderman as his initial appearance, heralds a pair of fairly lengthy and fun to watch tussles between him and Spidey at sea and in a cave, and "Farewell Performance" introduces Blackwell the Magician, a charismatic conjurer and stage performer, who is not above some rather mischievous behaviour, i.e. intimidating cloak-and-dagger theatricals in his and a couple of actors' bid of preserving a theatre slated for demolition. A Dove of Peace appears at the behest of Blackwell's magic wand and is transformed by said wand into a hawk. It is ironic, also somewhat curious and fascinating, that a white-plumed bird should grace a story that contains a reference to "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". In two Warner Brothers cartoons in which Dr. Jekyll, Jekyll's laboratory, Mr. Hyde, and characters metamorphosing into monsters are primary constituent elements, those cartoons being "Hyde and Hare" and "Hyde and Go Tweet", the disturbing and frightening events are preceded by a scene with white birds, alluding, it would seem, to the same purity, ironic and exquisite in terms of the overall story that is unfolding. Dove changing to hawk in "Farewell Performance" represents placidity turning to aggression. That the motif of such baleful transmutation should be manifest in an story with an early scene of Mr. Hyde's spectre in a poster, is quite an artistic flourish. Season 1 Spidey 1967-70 stories do have a propensity to allude to provocative classical symbols, concepts, or archetypes. Here is one such instance.
In his graven image does his projected evil lurk. "The Golden Rhino" is already mentioned above as the horned, rampaging villain's definitive story. An ultimate portrayal of criminal vanity accentuated by a series of scenery-devastating, brutal battles with Spidey in the heart of Manhattan. "Blueprint For Crime" is an interesting instalment mate for "The Golden Rhino" in as much as one of the henchmen in the sinister Plotter's missile-blueprint heist, is called Ox, name for another hulking animal, and charges on the run toward his intended target for violence with his head lowered in ramming position. This mode of attack is same as the Rhino's. The theft of strategic and top-secret document storyline for "Blueprint For Crime" is rather run-of-the-mill and uninspired. All that the Plotter needs is a Persian cat to complete his duplication of a James Bond villain. The action, while abundant and by times witty, lacks a sustained level of excitement, and the climax of the story consists of clumsy Ox colliding with his Cowboy cohort, Spidey easily webbing them as, "...two for the corral," and Spidey negating the Plotter's force field with an unheralded special kind of web fluid and then likewise swiftly web-encumbering the defeated Plotter. Apart from the Ox and Rhino similarity, "Blueprint For Crime" could be said to be of interest for but one, highly amusing scene, with a pair of hippies who comment on Spidey's garb and wall-crawling ability. "Roll your eyes over those crazy pyjamas," and, "Nothing like crawling the walls, man." Spiderman is a super-hero of the 1960s, and this smile-inducing, little scene firmly establishes this Spidey television series within the "groovy" sensibilities of that decade.
Villains in black garb confront Spidey in both halves of the instalment consisting of "The Spider and the Fly" and "The Slippery Doctor Von Schlick". The first story here involves a series of wealthy-society robberies committed by a man capable of climbing walls and moving from building to building by walking on spun wires. Jameson, of course, pegs Spiderman as the one and only suspect in these daring crimes, and Spidey finds himself in intense combat with a super-nimble, black-suited "Human Fly". "Whistling webs, but he's fast," remarks Spidey of his foe. And this only begins to describe Spidey's amazement as the story progresses. Somehow, "the Fly" is able to execute his brazen misdeeds in too quick a succession for a man to move so rapidly from place to place. Still, Spidey believes his nemesis to be one super-swift man, and an effective sense of confounding mystery is conveyed, until a dramatic reveal of the twin "Flies" at a time when Spidey believes that he has captured his foe in the commission and at scene of a crime. "I had to find out there were two of them... the hard way." Sometimes trouble can come in pairs. Once Spidey is completely "in the know" about the two-fold enemy that he is fighting, he plants a transmitter device on the expected next object to be stolen by the "Flies". Spidey finds the abandoned-amusement-park hideout of the costumed criminals and in the ensuing battle finds a novel, repetitive villain-pummelling-on-ground use for a Ferris wheel. The titled character of "The Slippery Doctor Von Schlick", dressed in a black, stick-resistant wet suit impervious to Spidey's regular webbing fluid and propelling adhesive oil and petroleum bubbles from his index finger to slow Spidey's pursuit of him, is an alchemist capable of sneakily heisting streams of oil, pulling the black fossil fuel through contrary currents of water by a "magnetic oiloscope", to his lair, and refining oil into concentrated pellets of an awesome potency. And his ambitions by means of these pellets extend not only to dominating New York City or America or even the world, but to control the universe! Fuel shortages resulting from Von Schlick's "black gold" thievery form the basis of comedic interplay between a fretting Jameson ("Why does everything happen to me?") and a matter-of-fact-stating Betty Brant at the Daily Bugle building whose oil-powered printing presses cannot function. Oil and water may not mix but Spidey, having found Von Schlick's lair, releases a cascade of H20 to flood and destabilise a reactor, with the outcome being a modest explosion that sends Spidey and Von Schlick atop a surge of water, onto a Manhattan avenue. This and Spidey's stick-to-anything web formula brings an end to the petroleum plunder and devious scheming of the villain in black.
Black or dark antagonists recur in the next instalment's second offering, in the possibly most surreal entry in the first season's run of stories. The nefarious Phantom's latest gadget is a pair of glasses that conjure and cast shadows of any shape or size, shadows that, although impervious to Spidey's webs and punches (which pass straight through the shadows), have a living reality- and behave precisely as would the creature or object being represented. "If this is shadow boxing, I'll take mine in the gym," says Spidey while trying in vain to incapacitate one of the Phantom's obscure projections. "The Dark Terrors" is suggestive of one of the key tenets in Swiss psychologist Carl Jung's theory of a dual, inclined-to-being-polar human mind. Dr. Jung posited the need to conquer the regressive impulses of the psyche, which Jung called "the shadow", and channel them toward higher goals. Fighting shadows which assume monstrous shapes is the ultimate Jungian allegory for "battle for deliverance" against the dark demons of the unconscious id.
"Fountain of Terror" revisits the Conner family in Florida, enabling Grantray-Lawrence to utilise Everglades backgrounds that had been designed for "Where Crawls the Lizard", plus some Spidey swimming animation from "The Fantastic Fakir". What is presented in "Fountain of Terror" is a quite tender tale of friendship between Spidey and Billy Conner as they search for Billy's father, who is held prisoner by Ponce de Leon in the Spanish fort first shown in "Where Crawls the Lizard". Instalment companion to "Fountain of Terror" is "Fiddler On the Loose", an absurd but enjoyable story involving a strings musician with a fiddle emitting destructive sonic waves, exploiting this uncanny instrument for vengeance against an impresario blamed by this fiddler for having superseded classical music with "rock and roll rabble".
Evidently, near the end of Season 1, Grantray-Lawrence was in want of engaging story ideas for Spidey's scheming foes from Marvel Comics. "The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus" is a somewhat lacklustre second appearance for the scientist of many a grip, concerning the multi-armed malefactor's theft of a rocket-attacking missile followed by a protracted and mostly rather boring search by Spidey for Doctor Octopus' lair and an all-too-brief battle there between Spidey and Octopus. And "Magic Malice" reduces the formerly evil-spirit-summoning Green Goblin to robber of a parking meter, jewelry store, and bank, using a magician's book of tricks to perpetrate his crimes of thievery. In a sense, "Magic Malice" repeats the Goblin's modus operandi of "The Witching Hour", i.e. the Goblin invading the residence of a noted performer of ostensibly occult feats to access the secrets of a book belonging to said performer. Said residence, although belonging to two different men, looks the same in exterior and some interior views in both Goblin outings. It is possible that it is the same place and that it changed owners, both of whom interested in metaphysics and occult power.
Further, "Sting of the Scorpion", while certainly more interesting than the first Scorpion story due to the Scorpion's enormous size, is a rehash of part of the earlier "Scorpy" scenario, the Scorpion escaping prison and stalking Jameson and Spidey. Money must also have been becoming scarce by this time, for Dr. Stillwell's residence and laboratory is from exterior perspective identical to that of Dr. Smartyr from "Sub-Zero For Spidey". Production quality was still of a high standard, even if economising was in evidence. Minimising production costs could also explain the tedious "Trick or Treachery", another go at clever criminality by the paroled Human Fly Twins, with recycled animation of them and the likewise re-utilised background of their "old hangout". Their Spidey-incriminating, thieving shenanigans are not very much distinguishable from those in "The Spider and the Fly", and are punctuated by Daily Bugle scenes of Jameson's predictable anti-Spiderman arguments that have become more than a little tiresome. "I've told you and Parker a thousand times..." Indeed!
In apparent desperation for a new and exciting storyline, there was conceived an ingenious premise of several of Spidey's antagonists assembling into a formidable team of vengeful intent. Led by Dr. Noah Boddy, who frees them from prison, the Vulture, Electro, and the Green Goblin separately fight Spidey before a concentrated, combined attack at a prearranged time and place. Hence, an extended, viewer-on-edge-of-seat climax, Spidey versus all comers, during which the crafty web-swinger turns his foes against one another by way of carefully applied ventriloquism. "To Catch a Spider" is of an admirable pedigree, that of one hero put into the position of having to combat multiple enemies all at once, and is forerunner to a superlative two-part thriller, titled "The Insidious Six", in the 1990s' Spider-Man animated cartoon television series. "Double Identity", instalment partner to "To Catch a Spider", is also an enjoyable, creative gem of a story, in which Spidey must determine who is who in order to stop the art heists of actor and impostor extraordinaire, Charles Cameo. It begins on a most intriguing note as what appears to be Peter Parker is committing robbery of a rare book and is confronted on the street outside of the book dealer's establishment by an astonished Spidey. "Whallopin' websnappers! It's... me?!!" Even if just a Jungian strand of symbolism underlying a conventional Spidey against impostor storyline, a dual-identity hero confronting his alter-ego is a recurrent image in super-hero lore. The 1978-82 television show rendition of The Incredible Hulk, with actors Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, explored this concept a couple of times, and Christopher Reeve's versions of Superman and Clark Kent waged violent conflict in a scrap yard in 1983's Superman III. Peter was concerned in "The Menace of Mysterio" that he may be becoming a "split personality", an understandable worry for anyone living every day with a dual identity. It is a fascinating premise, if only hinted beneath an outwardly ordinary storyline for Season 1 of 1967-70 Spiderman. If Spidey were to develop a dichotomy of motivation or of personality, might Peter be more inclined to be the selfish and acquisitive side of the coin? Some early episodes of Season 2 dramatise such a potential for a divergence, though not in a direction of a criminal nature, between the personal aims of Peter and the responsibilities of Spidey.
The final first season instalment's "Sting of the Scorpion" is a sizably superior but all-too-obvious revisiting of the jailbreak storyline of the latter half of "Never Step On a Scorpion", and "Trick or Treachery" is a lazy, unimaginative sequel to "The Spider and the Fly". A number of the first season's final episodes are replete with evidence of a production team grappling with decreased funds and waning creativity. Spidey was in need of a different approach along with a hitherto untapped current for story ideas, and this is what came in the form of Ralph Bakshi and his team of writers.
"The Power of Doctor Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey" Peter Parker is on assignment for J. Jonah Jameson, investigating mystery lights outside of the New York City limits for possible Daily Bugle pictures, when a rock avalanche forces his car off of a road and onto a tree part-way down a cliff. Peter changes to Spiderman and uses webbing to gently bring his car to a landing at the base of the cliff, where he notices light emanating from an opening in the rock, revealing a gadget-filled cave wherein the multi-mechanical-armed Doctor Octopus is scheming to trigger a series of underground explosions in Manhattan. Octopus surprises Spidey by dropping an entangling chain around the super-hero, then confines Spidey behind a descending set of jail cell bars. When Peter is overdue at the Bugle, Betty Brant drives her car to the same location and is also captured by Octopus. With his back turned from Spidey and Brant, Octopus initiates his diabolical plan as proof of his power to devastate New York. Spidey sprays his webbing into the jail cell locks that imprison himself and Betty, the webbing serves as a key, and Betty is free to run for help, while Spidey fights Octopus, shooting webbing at Octopus' glasses and blinding the villain so that he can be webbed to a wooden beam in the cave. The police, summoned to the scene by Betty, arrest Octopus, and Betty is reunited with Peter, who tells to her that he has been looking for a mechanic to repair his car... A group of giant ice creatures situate in New York Harbour in their damaged, diamond-like spaceship and abduct Dr. Smartyr, a noted scientist. Spidey boards the alien space vessel, passes through a maze of perilous, icy tunnels, and finds the aliens' control room, where Smartyr, an expert in propulsion, is helping the creatures, friendly Plutonians who were forced to land on Earth for repairs to their spaceship. With his new invention, a space warp control device, Smartyr assists the Plutonians to launch their spacecraft out of New York Harbour, leave Earth, and return to Pluto. But neither Smartyr nor Spidey will tell anyone about their encounter with aliens. "Where Crawls the Lizard"/"Electro the Human Lightning Bolt" Reports of a lizard-man terrorising the Everglades bring Spiderman to Florida, where he finds that a Doctor Conner, by testing a swamp fever serum upon himself, has changed into an intelligent lizard. The lizard that Conner has become intends to use a beaker containing the serum, which it confiscates from Conner's laboratory, to convert alligators into reptiles that share its level of intelligence, to follow it in conquest of humanity. Spidey applies his knowledge of science to conceive an antidote to the serum and confronts Conner's lizard alter-ego at an old, Spanish fort, webbing the bipedal reptile before it can release the serum into the Florida swamps, and forcing it to drink the antidote that changes it back to Conner, who does not remember any of his acts as the Lizard but is immensely grateful for Spidey's help, as are his wife and son... Electro, a villain capable of emitting energy bolts from his hands, robs J. Jonah Jameson's wall safe as the beginning of a crime wave which is investigated by Spiderman and ends in a confrontation with Electro in an amusement park. By his reflections, Spidey draws Electro's fire in a hall of mirrors, then startles Electro with an electricity-negating, asbestos-laced webbing dropped from above onto the villain. Spidey gives the webbed Electro to Jameson for the New York Police Department (the N.Y.P.D.) to apprehend. "The Menace of Mysterio" A villain named Mysterio robs the Midtown Museum in the guise of Spiderman, with intent of ruining the web-swinger's reputation. Mysterio then forms a mercenary agreement with J. Jonah Jameson, who has printed a front-page story in the Daily Bugle pronouncing Spiderman guilty of the museum heist, to rid the world of Spiderman. Jameson has always believed Spidey to be a duplicitous menace and deemed all of the masked crime-fighter's captures of villains to be a deception to gain the city's confidence, yet is content to ally with the even more preposterously garbed and clearly greedy Mysterio. Mysterio challenges Spidey to a duel atop the Brooklyn Bridge, observed from below by Jameson and by the N.Y.P.D., who want to apprehend Spiderman for the Midtown Museum thievery. Though Spidey seems to be foiled by Mysterio's ability to dissolve into clouds of smoke, he maintains that Mysterio's power of illusion is artificial while his spider-power is natural. Spidey executes a clever illusion of his own. He appears to fall to his death from bridge-top into the East River but, unseen by anyone, webs himself to the bridge's underside, then dives from there into the water and swims ashore. The next confrontation with Mysterio will be on Spidey's terms. As Peter, he places a spider-shaped tracing device on Mysterio's cape when Mysterio is visiting Jameson at the Bugle to demand payment for destroying Spiderman. Jameson only gives to Mysterio half of the money, promising the remainder when Spidey's body is found. Spidey locates and surprises Mysterio at a television studio, where Mysterio works as a stunt-man, and tricks the bragger into admitting on cassette audiotape to robbing the Midtown Museum. Mysterio and Spidey battle on a Wild West set, until Spidey slides down the handhold of a flight of stairs and kicks Mysterio, then webs him for police capture, with the audiotape-recording of his confession sure to convict him. A humiliated Jameson is webbed in his office by Spidey until he finally consents to print a formal apology to the web-swinger. "The Sky is Falling"/"Captured By J. Jonah Jameson" The Vulture, a man-bird villain, possesses an electronic device inducing huge flocks of birds to join him in attacking New York City. Unless the mayor bestows to the Vulture 2 million dollars, the Vulture promises to continue his reign of terror from the sky. Scientifically astute and resourceful Spidey drops a device that disrupts the bird-controlling transmissions, onto the Vulture's head, and provokes the bird-man into giving to the birds the attack signal, which causes the confused birds to attack the Vulture and force the flying criminal to flee, without the 2 million dollars that he tried to extort... Jameson employs a brilliant scientist named Henry Smythe in an effort to catch and unmask Spiderman by means of a relentless robot that speaks in Jameson's voice and has an image of Jameson's face in its head. After a lengthy chase that leaves Spidey fatigued, short of breath, and easily captured by the robot, Spidey uses the suction power of his fingers to open the lid to the robot's control centre and removes the spider-detecting circuitry that initially put the robot onto his trail, and when Jameson and Smythe arrive at the place of Spidey's apparent capture, Jameson removes the mask of what he thinks is Spiderman and finds a straw dummy in a Spiderman costume, in the arms of a non-functional robot. The frustrated Jameson never wants to see Smythe or Smythe's robot ever again. "Never Step On a Scorpion"/"Sands of Crime" Jameson's latest Spiderman-catching scheme involves a genetically mutated humanoid scorpion created by a scientist named Dr. Stillwell, but the Scorpion's allegiances are fickle, the monster soon declares Jameson as his number one enemy, and Spiderman must rescue his newspaper-publishing nemesis from the beast's murderous clutches. Fortunately, the Scorpion is vulnerable to Spidey's webbing, and Spidey captures the Scorpion for police capture, not once but twice, after the Scorpion escapes prison and attempts again to kill Jameson... The Sandman, a villain capable of dissolving into a moving heap of sand, slips under the defence mechanisms at a police-guarded exhibit and robs the Goliath Diamond. When the Sandman demands a two million dollar ransom for returning the diamond and specifies a rock quarry as a money-for-diamond transfer place, Spidey arrives there with the money in a suitcase and stickily webs the bottom of the suitcase to a rock, from which the Sandman is thus unable to lift the suitcase. In the ensuing battle, Spidey's makeshift web-shield deflects the boulders falling upon him from a bulldozer controlled by the Sandman. Spidey then spins his webbing into a huge slingshot that deflects the bulldozer's wrecking ball back at the bulldozer, throwing the Sandman from the vehicle and into a vat of water, where the Sandman becomes soggy and weak and drops the diamond. Spidey gives diamond and soggy Sandman to the police. "Diet of Destruction"/"The Witching Hour" A gigantic, walking blast furnace that feasts on metal from lampposts, cars, and power transformers, is loose in New York City. Spidey webs its two legs, ties a rope around its middle, and pilots a tugboat to pull it into the water of New York Harbour. Water douses its fire... A ghoulish villain, the Green Goblin, plans to conjure demons of the spirit world to do his bidding and to this end uses J. Jonah Jameson as a hypnotised medium to the evil realm. Spidey trails the Goblin and Jameson to a cemetery to battle the green-skinned ghoul. He webs and tips the Goblin's cauldron from which the evil spirits are emerging. The spirits disappear as the cauldron's liquid contents seep into the ground, and Spidey webs the Goblin. The recuperating Jameson has no memory of any of these events. "Kilowatt Kaper"/"The Peril of Parafino" Electro exploits an electrical storm to recharge his energy powers and escape jail. He hijacks the New York City power station and intends to blackmail the city into accepting his demand of total rule. Spiderman confronts Electro first at the power station and then in Times Square. In Times Square, Spidey spins his special, electricity-resistant webbing formula to form a large net, then webs a personal shield to deflect one of Electro's bolts so that the bolt blasts a hole through a wooden ledge. Electro, walking confidently toward Spidey, falls through the hole and into the net, where Spidey's electricity-resistant webbing traps Electro for police to recapture him... A convict named Red Dog Melvin escapes jail and is granted asylum at Parafino's Wax Museum, where Red Dog is put in suspended animation and coated with wax by fanatical wax artist Parafino, whose advertised exhibit of Red Dog lures Spidey to the museum for a nighttime visit. Planning to turn the web-swinger into a wax-covered exhibit, Parafino throws an ultra-sticky wax at Spidey's hands and feet, pinning Spidey on a pedestal. Betty Brant arrives at the museum in search for Peter, who told to her that he was going to investigate the museum, and Parafino captures her too. However, Spidey uses heat to his advantage, first from a lamp above his pedestal to melt the wax on his hands (thus enabling him to pull his feet free from the wax bonding them to the pedestal), then by hitting with his webbing a wax temperature control that increases heat to cause Parafino to melt! The real Parafino emerges to continue the work of his melted wax self-image, but Red Dog reanimates and grabs Parafino, and Spidey webs them both. "Horn of the Rhino" Sick with a cold, Spiderman must battle the Rhino, a powerful, horned villain capable of ramming through trains, trucks, and submarines. Though Peter's Aunt May forbids her ailing nephew to procure pictures for Jameson of the Rhino's wrath, Peter leaves his bed to become Spiderman each time that a component to a top-secret military weapon is due to arrive in New York City, because the Rhino wants the weapon and will stop at nothing to steal the components, three in total, coming to New York by train, aeroplane, and submarine. But the sneezing Spidey is unable to stop the Rhino from snatching the components. Finally, as the Rhino is assembling the weapon from the three heisted components, Spidey obtains a can of pepper from Aunt May's cupboard, finds the Rhino's hideout, a cave at the New York City Zoo, and webs the can of pepper onto the Rhino's horn, which punctures the can, and pepper drops in the Rhino's face so that the Rhino now too has a sneezing handicap. An avalanche of mud falls upon the Rhino, and Spidey bakes the mud with a heat ray to trap the horned criminal, then gains possession of the weapon to return it to the military. The Rhino is apprehended by the N.Y.P.D., and Peter confines himself to bed to allow Aunt May to fully treat his cold. "The One-Eyed Idol"/"Fifth Avenue Phantom" Australian hunter Harley Clivendon pretends to be secret admirer of J. Jonah Jameson and gives as a "token of (his) esteem" to the cantankerous newspaper publisher a weird, hypnotic idol, which entrances Jameson into robbing his own wall safe and placing the money inside of the idol for Clivendon's aborigine helper to collect. When Spidey discovers Clivendon's scheme, Clivendon throws a boomerang to strike Spidey unconscious and binds Spidey beneath an elevator carriage to be crushed when the carriage reaches ground level, but Spidey breaks his bindings to escape from the descending carriage and confronts Clivendon. After dodging the spears hurled and bullets fired at him by Clivendon, Spidey throws the advancing aborigine at Clivendon and webs them both for police capture- and Jameson has his money back... The Phantom, a faceless, hooded villain, orchestrates a trio of female robots, all with reducing rays, to steal merchandise from Bennet's Department Store. Intending to catch the Phantom, Spiderman trails the beautiful robots and a stolen doll house containing the shrunken items. He is captured by one of the robots toting a laser gun and brought to the Phantom's headquarters, where the robots restore the merchandise to full size. Spidey springs into action, deactivates the robots, and webs the Phantom. The police return the stolen items to Bennet's. "The Revenge of Dr. Magneto"/"The Sinister Prime Minister" Dr. Magneto, a scientist with a gun capable of magnetising and demagnetising various objects, plans revenge upon the world for ridiculing his theories. He causes a rail bridge to collapse, then lifts and drops a statue from high altitude, but Spidey arrives on the scene and prevents Magneto's schemes from causing loss of life. Then, Spidey confronts Magneto in a museum and, with a dense, anti-magnetic webbing, smashes Magneto's magnetising gun. He then webs Magneto in the usual manner and places the disgraced scientist on a pedestal in the museum for police to apprehend... Spiderman discovers that the visiting Prime Minister of Rutania is an impostor and must by himself battle the identity-usurper, whose cane is a veritable arsenal! The phony Prime Minister, under the pretence of obtaining a multi-million dollar loan to aid the impoverished people of his country, has duped the American government and J. Jonah Jameson into bestowing upon him a fortune in gold bullion. While battling the impostor Prime Minister aboard an aeroplane, Spidey uses his webbing to knock the cane out of the impostor's hand and pin it to the fuselage's wall. He webs the impostor and, with armed guards as witnesses, removes the impostor's make-up to reveal actor Charles Cameo. Spidey also releases the real Prime Minister alive from a trunk aboard the aeroplane. "The Night of the Villains"/"Here Comes Trubble" Historic villains Blackbeard the Pirate, Jesse James, and the Executioner of Paris are committing robberies in New York City, and Spidey tracks them to their lair- Parafino's Wax Museum, where Spidey's wax-master enemy is scheming to besiege and plunder the city with robotised wax villains. By destroying Parafino's control box for his robots, Spidey easily foils the wax artist's latest scheme... Miss Trubble, a book dealer obsessed with mythology, is owner of a magical chest from which she summons a succession of mythological figures, from centaurs to the Cyclops to Diana the Hunter-Goddess, to commit robberies of ancient artifacts on her behalf. A curious Spiderman, investigating Miss Trubble's bookshop, is captured in chains by the lady's mythic minion, Great Vulcan, God of Fire, who hurls hot coals at Spidey. Spidey dodges the thrown coals, and they hit Miss Trubble's books, rapidly converting the nasty lady's bookshop into an inferno. By attaching his web to the magic chest, Spidey breaks its power, Vulcan disappears, and Spidey carries the unconscious Miss Trubble out of the bookstore before an explosion. "Spiderman Meets Dr. Noah Boddy"/"The Fantastic Fakir" A scientist, Dr. Noah Boddy, renders himself invisible by means of a machine, then acts to avenge himself upon Jameson, who publicly maligned his theory of invisibility. Twice, Noah Boddy tries to "frame" Jameson for theft, of a prized painting from an art gallery and a diamond from a jewelry store, by arranging to meet Jameson at these places, putting the lifted item on Jameson's person, and "tipping" the police to arrive at the locales and catch Jameson with the painting and jewel. Noah Boddy then attempts to kill the free-on-bail Jameson in the Daily Bugle press room. Spidey interrupts Noah Boddy's attack on Jameson and pours black ink on the press room floor so that Noah Boddy walks through the ink to escape, leaving a shoe print trail for Spidey to follow. A confrontation at Noah Boddy's laboratory ends with Spidey webbing Noah Boddy, who reveals his position by training a flame-thrower against Spidey. Police collect the invisible man inside of Spidey's web, and Jameson is cleared of attempted theft charges... Spiderman battles an Arabian jewel thief, whose magical flute induces animals into attacking Spidey. Spidey boards a yacht occupied by the slinky Arab, web-swings past the criminal, and kicks the flute out of his hand, then webs him to end his scheme involving a dummy maharajah and a wealthy lady's sapphire. "Return of the Flying Dutchman"/"Farewell Performance" Reports of a legendary, flying ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman, being sighted near Smuggler's Cove summon Spidey to the area, where his investigation into the phantom ship's appearance leads him to a cave in which he finds his sworn adversary, Mysterio, plotting with a pair of thugs. The Flying Dutchman is a hoax by which Mysterio and henchmen plan to panic the locals, so that they can easily snatch a huge treasure. With a web-sword, Spidey out-duels Mysterio's two stooges, then plugs with his webbing a cannon that Mysterio is about to fire at him. The cannon backfires, throwing Mysterio backwards, and Spidey traps Mysterio with one web and the two thugs with another web... When a Jekyll-and-Hyde poster comes to life at the soon-to-be-demolished Castle Theatre, Spidey visits the theatre and encounters a mischievous Blackwell the Magician, who is trying to attract public attention to the theatre in hope of preventing its demolition. Spidey agrees to help Blackwell by contacting the Daily Bugle's rival newspaper to print a statement from Spidey advocating demolition and thereby prompting influential Jameson to champion the cause of preserving the theatre. "The Golden Rhino"/"Blueprint For Crime" Spiderman's old enemy, the rampaging Rhino, is stealing gold bullion to mold an auric likeness of himself. Spidey's spider-sense helps him to locate the Rhino's hideout, where the Rhino has completed his golden statue. Spidey falls through the weak roof of the old, wooden building, the Rhino attacks him, and wooden beams are shattered by the reckless Rhino's horn, causing the building's total collapse. Spidey battles the Rhino in Manhattan's business district, with the Rhino's horn wrecking a fish and produce store and exploding a gasoline truck. Spidey webs the Rhino and places Rhino and Rhino statue at the entrance to the Daily Bugle for police to obtain... A bald-headed mastermind named the Plotter employs two ridiculous criminals, Cowboy and Ox, to steal a blueprint to a missile. When Spidey interferes, he is lassoed by Cowboy and delivered to the "skin head" Plotter. After defeating Cowboy and Ox by tricking Ox to collide with Cowboy so that he can web the pair, Spidey uses an electricity-neutralising webbing to deactivate an electronic force field positioned around him by the Plotter, whom he webs also. "The Spider and the Fly"/"The Slippery Doctor Von Schlick" Spidey chases the culprit in an attempted theft of jewels from a countess and is surprised to find that his opponent, dressed in a black "Human Fly" costume, also has the ability to scale walls and can cross thin wires between buildings. The black-garbed thief escapes, then successfully robs a visiting maharajah and an eccentric millionaire. When Spidey thinks that he has trapped the Fly in the act of the latter theft, he is struck from behind by the Fly's identical twin! Spidey's pursuit of the Fly Twins brings him to an abandoned amusement park for a confrontation with his two foes, ending with Spidey webbing the criminal pair and attaching them to a moving Ferris wheel... Oil is being stolen in huge quantities by Dr. Von Schlick, a chemist villain garbed in a rubber, non-stick suit and armed with petroleum-based bubbles that he fires from his fingers to envelope Spidey. Von Schlick is scheming to control the world with concentrated oil pellets of immense destructive power. However, Spidey wears an oxygen mask to follow Von Schlick through the oil slick that the slinky criminal is diverting into the underground reservoir adjacent to his refinery-laboratory. Dressed in an oil-proof costume, Spidey resists Von Schlick's petroleum-based bubbles, webs Von Schlick with all-stick webbing, jumps to a water valve, and deluges Von Schlick's refinery-laboratory with water that causes the oil-concentration machinery to explode. Spidey and Von Schlick are geysered into Manhattan's streets through a manhole. Spidey gives Von Schlick to the N.Y.P.D., and Von Schlick's concentrated oil pellets are found and destroyed. "The Vulture's Prey"/"The Dark Terrors" The nefarious Vulture traps Jameson inside of a tower-clock and uses the well-informed Daily Bugle publisher as a source of information on the whereabouts of a visiting diamond merchant and the testing of military equipment- two prospective heists for the greedy bird-man. Peter and Betty are perplexed by Jameson's prolonged absence from work. The Vulture succeeds in stealing a suitcase full of gems from the diamond merchant but is stopped by Spidey from filching a military laser gun. Back at the tower-clock, Jameson signals for help by operating a gear to disrupt the clock's mechanisms and cause its hands and chimes to go haywire, and the Vulture, returning from his failed attempt to heist the laser gun, angrily ties Jameson to the clock's main wheel. Spidey arrives at the clock, surprises, and webs the Vulture to the clock's bell, then frees Jameson and returns the stolen gems to their rightful owner... Life-like and substantial shadows of beasts are projected in various locations in New York City by the Phantom's new Shadow-Scope glasses to cause panic and enable the Phantom to effect unconstrained bank and jewelry store robberies. Spidey follows one of the Phantom's shadows and locates the Phantom's hideout, where the Phantom tries to turn Spidey into a shadow by training the beams of his glasses directly onto the intrepid super-hero. Spidey shoots his webbing to remove the glasses from the Phantom and capture the faceless, hooded criminal, whose shadows all disappear. "The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus"/"Magic Malice" Doctor Octopus imposes upon Dr. Smartyr's Nullifier rocket test and steals the ultra-powerful destructor missile, with possession thereof Octopus plans to force all nations to bow to his will. Spiderman is unable to prevent Octopus from perpetrating the heinous theft but does acquire a fragment of Octopus' cape, thereby facilitating Spidey's effort, Automated Bloodhound Detector in hand, to locate Octopus' hideout in an abandoned New York City tunnel. Spidey webs Octopus' metal arms to an electrically charged wall in the evil one's laboratory. The shock of the electricity paralyses Octopus, and the police, summoned by Spidey to Octopus' lair, recover the Nullifier and imprison Octopus... While Blackwell the Magician is entertaining at the Castle Theatre, his house is invaded by the Green Goblin, who swipes some of Blackwell's props and peruses Blackwell's book of magic spells and incantations. When Spidey interrupts the Goblin's illicit visit to home of Blackwell, the Goblin magically chains and places Spidey in a glass tank with a rising water level, then manipulates Blackwell's enchanted props to rob a jewelry store, parking meters, and a bank. Spidey spins a web upwards to a chandelier, pulls himself out of the glass water tank, and removes the chains. When the Goblin returns to the magician's domicile to again consult Blackwell's book, Spidey and Blackwell both surprise him so that Spidey can web him. "Fountain of Terror"/"Fiddler On the Loose" Dr. Curtis Conner goes missing in the Florida swamps after finding the Fountain of Youth. When Spidey investigates the scientist's disappearance, he discovers a fifteenth century Spanish conquistador, Ponce de Leon, who is intent upon keeping the magical fountain a secret. Harley Clivendon is in the area too, determined to find Conner and the perpetual- youth-endowing waters. Spidey and Conner's son, Billy, escape quicksand, alligators, and Clivendon's arrows, to arrive at a Spanish fort, where Conner is being held captive by de Leon. At the fort, Billy frees his father while Spidey duels with Clivendon and de Leon prepares to fire a cannon at his unwelcome guests. Spidey webs Clivendon, and Billy, seeing de Leon igniting the cannon, saves Spidey's life by directing the firing cannon upward. The cannonball drops on the nearby fountain and destroys it, and de Leon flees into a forest... Because he hates rock-and-roll for its having replaced classical music in the tastes of the masses, a fiddler with a deadly, sonic violin seeks revenge upon pop-music sponsor Cyrus Flintridge. By a stroke of the violin's strings, the Fiddler destroys Flintridge's vinyl record collection, and he threatens to reduce Flintridge's musical conservatory to rubble unless Flintridge provides him with a large sum of money. Spidey foils the fiddler's blackmail attempt and webs the frustrated criminal musician. "To Catch a Spider"/"Double Identity" Under the guidance of Dr. Noah Boddy, the Green Goblin, Electro, and the Vulture join forces for revenge on Spiderman. In a confrontation with Noah Boddy's three stooges, Spidey practises ventriloquism to cause each of the three miscreants to think that he is being insulted by the others, and the excitable trio of villains begin fighting each other. Electro zaps and incapacitates the Vulture, the Green Goblin bombs Electro with a pumpkin-shaped explosive, and Spidey swings a web- produced baseball bat to return one of the Green Goblin's bombs to its sender, and it explodes in the Goblin's confounded face. Spidey then throws his voice in order for Noah Boddy to believe that he is hiding inside of a wooden tool trunk on a building top. When Noah Boddy fires bullets into the tool trunk, Spidey, really standing behind Noah Boddy, webs the visible-gun-toting invisible man, and police apprehend all four villains... Art robberies are committed by an old enemy of Spiderman, actor Charles Cameo, who can utilise masks and make-up to usurp any identity, including those of J. Jonah Jameson and Spiderman! However, Cameo is unable to duplicate all of Spidey's powers, and Spidey kicks and webs Cameo at the scene of Cameo's robbery attempt in Spiderman guise. "Sting of the Scorpion"/"Trick or Treachery" When the Scorpion, intent on vengeance upon Spiderman and Jameson, escapes prison, he visits the laboratory of his creator, Dr. Stillwell, and drinks a potion that vastly increases his size. After throwing a bulldozer containing Spidey into the Hudson River, the gigantic Scorpion goes to the Daily Bugle building and abducts Jameson. Spidey, having escaped from the wrecked bulldozer at the bottom of the Hudson, battles the huge Scorpion in Central Park. He spins a web-line between two trees and baits the Scorpion to chase him. The Scorpion trips on the web-line and falls, and Jameson flies out of his hand. Spidey webs a net between more trees on which for Jameson to land safely and pours an antidote, provided by Stillwell, to the enlarging potion down the Scorpion's mouth. The Scorpion returns to his normal size, and Spidey easily webs him for the police and military to capture... Paroled from prison, the Human Fly Twins rob diamonds from an importing company, and one of them does this deed in a Spiderman costume so that the guard, before being hit on the head from behind by the second twin, believes that Spidey is the culprit. Jameson is delighted by this. But Spidey suspects that the paroled Fly Twins are responsible for this attempt to incriminate him and confronts them at a furrier's warehouse, another of their targets for thievery, where he captures them in a web. The stolen jewels are recovered at the Fly Twins' known hideout in a closed-to-business amusement park, and Spidey is vindicated, to the hapless chagrin of Jameson.
Season 2Season 2 was in several respects the most imaginative and in that regard the most laudable of the three seasons. Unlike in Season 1, Spiderman was not always restricted to the metropolis of New York City or to the United States of the 1960s, villains were not all peculiarly garbed or animal-hybridised men with robbery or a personal vendetta against Jameson or someone else as their sole motivation, and unlike Season 3, there were few "cheater" episodes, only two in fact, in the run of fanciful Spidey outings. Each episode, many of them as vast in scope as imagination allowed, was conceived and constructed solely from the writers' minds, without a remit that footage, apart from the web-swinging sequences, needed to be extensively reused.
"The Origin of Spiderman" is the logical episode to begin any Spidey television series, and it is a mystery why it was not produced, albeit in the first season mode of storytelling, to open Season 1. After the first season was starting, in its final group of episodes, to look like it was thread-bare in the ideas department with the format that it had, Bakshi, on attaining the mantle of creative producer, came to a quite logical decision, to go to Spidey's roots and to tell some stories about Spiderman's early days, of when Peter first acquired his amazing powers and of how those powers and attendant crime-fighting responsibilities affected Peter's life as a teenager among his peers at school. Doing so would open the door to some compelling conflicted characterisation for young Parker, and a change to mainly full-episode-long single stories with more elaborate, wide-ranging threats posed by the villains than mundane robbery (though robbery- of an unusual technique- was still committed by some), allowed for more contemplative scenes for Peter/Spidey than were possible in the tightly structured formula of Season 1- in addition to reducing the need for and cost of creating different villains and surroundings in every half-episode.
The how-Spidey-came-to-be story could not reasonably be better told than it is in "The Origin of Spiderman". This episode, perhaps one of the best of all three seasons, covers all necessary bases without becoming very melodramatic or very cloying, and without liberties with the storyline first outlined by the colourful pages of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Peter Parker is wearing his ultimate Spiderman suit when he is performing for hopeful profit, whilst he talks with the impresario from whom he wishes to be paid a large sum of money, and when the fateful robber runs past him, unlike in the 2002 live-action Spider-Man feature film wherein Peter is dressed in a different, less advanced costume during profit-seeking demonstration of his abilities and is uncostumed and therefore identifiable during the scenes with the show business promoter and the fleeing thief. The treatment of these scenes is rather more sensible in "The Origin of Spiderman". Few potential holes in episodic story structure.
Moreover, "The Origin of Spiderman" is not encumbered with a love story or with rather gratuitous scenes of Peter fighting and defeating a school bully before countless spectators. Peter's awareness of his super-powers is shown to grow in quiet introspection in the streets of New York City and during and after an inadvertent encounter with a pair of street toughs with whom he has no prior or later acquaintance. These developments are completely outside of the school environs- and beyond the view of anyone who can easily identify him. The tragedy of Uncle Ben's murder by the same robber whom Spidey declined to assist in apprehending and Peter coming to terms with the responsibility that accompanies "great power", is performed in the characterisation of Peter with a perfect mix of pathos and dogged determination. There is no diverting strand of storyline with a girl-friend. The origin story does not need it. Peter is established as being interested in but removed from the opposite sex, his intellectual goals being highest. Romantic involvement does not happen until later episodes, and is then complicated again and again by Peter's secret identity and higher responsibility. Spidey is branded a solitary hero, his origin told to expert precision, the script never deviating from the prospectus proposed in Marvel Comics. The episode may be aptly criticised for being too indulgent with protracted web-swinging sequences, and there are a few technical production errors, such as the red and blue colours on Spidey's suit being reversed as Spidey is leaping out of the Parker household's second-floor window for his first ever web-swinging and one or two recycled backgrounds when Spidey is supposed not to be meandering but travelling directly to a location. On the whole, though, "The Origin of Spiderman" is arguably the finest filmed rendition ever of the advent of a Marvel Comics super-hero. A triumph for Ralph Bakshi and for the 1967-70 Spiderman.
An admirable effort to further the character development of the nascent super-hero, "King Pinned" was a direct continuation of the events of "The Origin of Spiderman", with Spidey reaffirming his commitment to crime-fighting (to "avenge" Uncle Ben) as he seeks an income to support his Aunt May, following the death of Ben. And thus is Peter hired at the Daily Bugle as a "copy boy" by J. Jonah Jameson, whose first appearance in Bakshi's Spiderman is equally as irascible as Jameson in Season 1 but somewhat less a buffoonish hypocrite and easy target for humiliation by Spidey. Jameson also is anything but the coward that he is in Season 1 as he is shown to be holding firm to his journalistic conviction in a confrontation with the villain of the episode, none other than the Kingpin, the foremost Manhattan mobster lifted without any modification from Marvel Comics' Spiderman. "King Pinned" is another episode with some rather lengthy web-swinging as Spidey pursues a car containing Jameson who is being kidnapped by the Kingpin, and still more web-swinging as Spidey races to defuse a bomb planted by a Kingpin stooge in the Daily Bugle printing room. Unlike the first season villains, the Kingpin escapes capture by Spidey. Sometimes, proposes Bakshi, the web-swinger does not succeed at bringing the criminals to justice. And hence there is no need to contrive a jailbreak, as happens a number of times to explain a villain's return in Season 1, to lead to the Kingpin's next appearance.
With the Spiderman mythos, including J. Jonah Jameson, the Daily Bugle, even the organised crime boss, the Kingpin, fully introduced, giving to this television series a belated but appreciated logical starting point, Bakshi fully stamped his fantastic imprint on this television show with his next three episodes, involving weird and wonderful technological menaces overhead and underfoot. "Swing City" and "Criminals in the Clouds" are thematically similar in as much as their villains both harbour literally upward plans for the on-terrain-residing Manhattan populace. One of them has become able to utilise the atomic reactions in the generation of nuclear energy to lift a land mass high into the sky, and the other villain has the necessary hardware for permanent skyward habitation and has sought, with embittered frustration, to, "...free the Earth dwellers from their miserable existence, crawling like worms in the mud over the world when the skies lie open above." The police and the courts outlawed him, and now he wishes revenge, and with an invisibility serum acquired by foul means, he intends to achieve his vengeance upon the authorities of the surface world. Ransom and extortion are the tactics to be employed by both the villains of "Swing City" and "Criminals in the Clouds" to achieve their ambitions. And then, in "Menace From the Bottom of the World", the Earth's surface is targeted for siege of a different kind- bank robberies of a most fantastic methodology. And from beneath the ground rather than from above.
Pseudo-scientific extension of radiology is central to the storyline of "Swing City" in which is done something that Season 1 would not have posited in a million years: the levitating of the entire island of Manhattan by way of radiation emitted from Manhattan's first nuclear power station, hijacked by a green complexioned technician in a white coat. The episode is framed by scenes concerning Peter's love interest at school, a planned evening with a girl that is forestalled by the radiation specialist's unorthodox urban hijack. The scenes with Peter and Sonya add some humanity to a rather surreal and wild scenario. And yet, "Swing City" does not seem to be as engaging as its sequel, "Specialists and Slaves", because more happens in the latter episode with regard to the conflict between Spidey and his foe, who does more there than simply elevate Manhattan with "anti-gravity rays". The scenes at school and elsewhere in "Swing City" relating to Peter's love interest, while they yield a personal, i.e. Peter Parker, aspect to what is yet an early experience in Spidey's career, do pad and slow the principal part of the story, that being Spidey versus the specialist in a battle to bring Manhattan back to its "landed" condition, and essentially fill an adventure that could have been, concentrating only on Spidey and the radiation specialist, a half-episode. Indeed, despite the secondary Peter's-romance storyline, there is, again, an excess of web-swinging around the city, and at the end of the episode's action, there is an approximate minute of time remaining for a redundant singing of the Spiderman song accompanying a sequence of web-swinging scenes.
For "Criminals in the Clouds", as with "Swing City", much of the action occurs skyward, and again Peter has a girl occupying his thoughts. This time, he is frustrated in his romantic pursuit by a wealthy school athlete and most sought-after player on the high school football team, and tries to better his rival by exploiting his Spidey strength and agility. Temptation to perform for personal gain has come to the fore one more time, but on this occasion, it seems justifiable to Peter, money not being the goal. Still early in his experience as a super-hero, "Criminals in the Clouds" presents another dilemma for Peter in super-hero ethics. Resolution of the dilemma comes when the villainous Sky Master's ransom scheme is put into operation, and Peter does what he vowed in "The Origin of Spiderman" to do without fail, never to shirk his duty, even if it means losing an opportunity to attain personal gratification. In this respect, he is a true hero in every sense of the word. A story like this, the hero having a conflict of personal versus public priority, would never have been commissioned for Season 1- and in the context of the early Bakshi Spidey oeuvre, it is a winner, even if Peter finishes it a loser. Some long web-swinging scenes may be said to slow the story somewhat, but not as much as in the two previous episodes, and here they serve a purpose to the story because Spidey is searching for the Sky Master's headquarters.
"Menace From the Bottom of the World" is the first episode concerned with a travelling by Spidey into utterly strange and spooky surroundings. Jules Verne would have been proud of the reference to his work in Spidey's journey down the awesomely deep hole left by a seemingly vanished bank, and of Spidey's strange experiences in an exquisitely bizarre underworld. Some time has evidently passed since "Criminals in the Clouds", which, it would appear, transpired in the same autumn as when Peter gained his Spidey powers. Now, at the Daily Bugle, Peter is a freelance photographer rather than a "copy boy", and the photographing and interviewing of a scientist claiming to be receiving radio messages from underground is not Peter's first task given by the cranky J. Jonah, which can be deduced from Peter's musings about always receiving the "dumb" assignments while "stuck-up" Hammond is awarded the "big ones". And later, Spidey refers to Peter Parker having been involved, presumably as freelance photographer, in a months-previous news item regarding Mugs Riley's tunnelled escape from prison. Also, the interim between this and the preceding Bakshi-produced episodes has not been entirely kind to Spiderman, as Spidey speaks of his having been blamed in the past for some unspecified unfavourable occurrences.
The Molemen are pulling Manhattan banking establishments to deep inside the interior of the Earth, by way of a highly powerful and extensive elevator mechanism. Spidey's passage into the dark chasm and through the psychedelically depicted tunnels of a netherworld of dangling vines, grotesque stalagmites, and scenes of what looks like a sun (yes, far below the Earth's surface) behind a sinisterly suggestive outcrop of flora- a particular background borrowed from Rocket Robin Hood- is accompanied by a juxtaposition of spine-tingling, unnerving drum and strings music of augmenting tempo, most strikingly in the scenes of Spidey web-swinging speedily and directly "into camera", with some of the most "groovy" guitar compositions imaginable in a 1960s production. Also, the feel of Spidey's entry into Mole City is captured by visuals of an enormous door, buildings of the most foreign architecture, triangular portals and windows, a proto-Gothic throne chamber for the Mole Leader, and further music as evocative of an alien menace and expressive of fear mixed with grim determination as could possibly be imagined. The ensuing fight between Spidey and the Molemen and Spidey's revelation of who the Mole Leader really is, cannot legitimately be faulted in the limited though nevertheless fluid animation technique. "Menace From the Bottom of the World" did truly set another bench mark of eerily fanciful quality for this Spiderman television programme.
Molemen are ape-like creatures, stooges of a criminal disguised as one of- and leader of- their beastly horde, and simians, and men dressed as such, are part of a villain's plan to commit robbery of a jewel in "Diamond Dust". The ingenuity of the storyline of "Diamond Dust" is two-fold. First, in Peter's quest for status as a winning baseball pitcher, i.e. as player of decision in a game in a diamond-shaped field, coinciding aesthetically with the diamond that is central to the Spidey battle of the episode, against apes in a zoo and of jewel robbers in the guises of the hairy beasts. And second, in the elaborate ruse perpetrated by the sophisticated criminal mastermind, nicknamed Shakespeare by his comrades in crime. The plan is as follows. Connive to free a real gorilla from its cage at a zoo, the resulting panic in the path of the ape on the rampage leading to a summons of metropolitan police in large numbers to that location, at which the men in blue will be occupied for a substantial amount of time. Then, in the guise of apes, the criminals enter the Cosmopolitan Museum, scare the wits and the consciousness out of the few, if any, remaining police guards who happen to be stationed there, and snatch the jewel, with any witnesses to their presence at the museum unable to identify the real culprits of the crime, underneath the ape costumes. The Bakshi writing team are to be commended for bestowing to their villain such an ironically brutish yet magnificent criminal deception.
Where the episode's interest to the viewer is highest, however, is in the quandary of its hero. Peter again finds that his duty as Spiderman and his search for fulfilment as Peter Parker seldom, if ever, have each their own time frame. Priority must always be chosen, and in this sense- and also in Peter's wish to play and win a team sport, "Diamond Dust" accords with "Criminals in the Clouds", although it is quite different in its ending. Peter does not on this occasion finish the episode rebuffed and dejected.
It would seem that with his endeavour at being a celebrated football player having failed, Peter is now attempting the pitcher's position in baseball as an outlet for improving his social standing, his Spidey strength, again, being of potential benefit in team sport. Yet, baseball, and pitching in particular, is as much as- if not more- a sport of eye-hand coordination, and the precision thereof, as/than it is of strength, and for such coordination Peter must rely upon ability not necessarily transmitted to him by the bite of the radioactive spider. Superior eye-hand coordination is not mentioned as one of those super-hero capabilities. Peter's skill in the area of coordination of hand and eye could be entirely his own prior to Spidey's origin. And as Peter's baseball pitching relies on those skills in addition to the Spidey strength received in the spider bite, this is perhaps a less dubious pursuit of glory than in than the more brawny sport of football, for which the exploiting of brute physical strength would have been required to a rather larger extent. But still it is of questionable fairness. The speed of a baseball pitch remains dependent upon arm power. And to a significant degree upon Spidey strength in Peter's case. Peter has a unique advantage unbeknown to and arguably unfair to the other players of the game. Still, Peter's yen to be baseball game pitcher does not retire his responsibilities as Spiderman. Again, Peter must leave his personal pursuits to act swiftly and determinedly as Spiderman to assist in recapturing the freed zoo ape and to foil the jewel robbery at the museum. Such does prevent Peter from being the initially planned starter at the pitcher's mound, and Peter might indeed have been unable to enter the game at any time if Spidey had been longer in fully completing his task prior to return to the baseball field.
Peter's winning pitch in the baseball game is thrown with the gem which Spidey has not as yet returned to the police, though the viewer feels assured that Spidey will do so following conclusion of the baseball game. Peter found the diamond in his pitcher's glove instead of a baseball while he was on the pitcher's mound, committed to playing that position in the game's crucial, last inning. Still, one cannot help but wonder if Spidey's best course of action would have been to bring the jewel to the police before returning to the baseball game, even if he doubtless would have been late at the baseball field and Peter would have been berated for unavailability and for his team losing the game. Uncertain are Peter's ethics in the episode, but he is still in the super-hero learning process, and his actions can be understood and accepted in that sense. Plus, Spidey has, after all, safeguarded New York City from rampaging apes and nefarious would-be jewel filchers. Perhaps Peter was entitled or due to have at least one moment of personal glory, even if it meant delaying the completion of Spidey's work. Anyway, Spidey in "Diamond Dust" never does violate his resolution to combat crime and protect the people of New York City. And Bakshi and his writers have been successful again in proposing a palpable clash of personal and altruistic values for the still-learning super-hero.
An impressive and effective start to the first Bakshi season, with elaborate characterisation and a mixing of antagonists with thematically connected motives or tactics, came to a crashing halt with two "cheater" stories. "Spiderman Battles the Molemen" is a repetition, more or less, of the storyline of "Menace From the Bottom of the World", predicated this time on Mugs Riley seeking vengeance upon Spiderman for his prior defeat by the web-swinger. Thus, "Spiderman Battles the Molemen" is a stated sequel to the first Molemen episode- and with some improbable coincidences, such as Spidey colliding with a building that happens to have a descending mechanism of the Molemen positioned underneath it (surely not all edifices in the city have beneath them such an apparatus), and that among that building's hapless occupants is Hammond, who was in a bank targeted for plunder by the Molemen in "Menace From the Bottom of the World". Animation recycling abounds, resulting not only in the unlikely recurrence of Hammond in a Molemen story, but in the dirigible to which Spidey attaches a couple of web lines for an easy, travel-time-cutting conveyance above the city, being same in appearance as the airship of the Sky Master in "Criminals in the Clouds", and an advancing insect creature that sends Spidey careening off of a footbridge is in one scene the beetle from a Rocket Robin Hood episode that very soon will be almost completely recycled into a Spiderman story.
A scene with mushrooms, elfin midgets, and a contest of spears versus brute strength between said midgets and a giant Moleman guard constitute one of the few new substantial pieces of material in "Spiderman Battles the Molemen". That and the episode's ending with Riley being still another villain (the radiation specialist and Sky Master as the others, with Dr. Atlantian to follow) who does not know any better than to fire a ray gun at Spidey with delicate, crucial, and explodable machinery directly behind the ducking super-hero. And Spidey has quite a laugh when he sees a Mole Leader mask and body suit in the window of a downtown Manhattan costumes store. As sloppily compiled as "Spiderman Battles the Molemen" may be, it is still tremendously superior to "Phantom From the Depths of Time", a story lifted from Rocket Robin Hood, with wholesale re-usage of backgrounds, animation of villains, creatures, victims, and even spaceships, but without near enough thought given to story logic or continuity.
"Phantom From the Depths of Time" is not anywhere near as successful as a Spiderman television series entry as Season 3's "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension". The Rocket Robin Hood episode being co-opted in this case occurs on an asteroid, but in Spiderman, the far-fetched events are said to be occurring on an island of unspecified location. An interesting island, to say the least, for it has craters, and in its sky in a few scenes are giant planets and what look like crescent moons. And wherever this island is, the inhabitants have quite a futuristic architectural sense, in that the buildings of their city resemble nothing conceived by the builders of the world's past or present times. Style of clothing is similarly un-contemporaneous. This is an obviously technically advanced people who are, it seems, hermetically uninfluenced by any twentieth century Earth societies. Mushrooms, fungal growth reminiscent of that in the preceding episode, are formed into giant beetles that ravage the island's settlement and, with their incisors, capture everybody in the settlement for the weirdest of weird Dr. Manta to enslave as miners of lavaside, an ore on the island by which Manta plans to be ruler of the universe. For an Earth-island-bound villain, such far-reaching ambition is highly unusual. To say the least, he sure is not insular. Actually, Manta's dialogue here was lifted from the counterpart Rocket Robin Hood story with zero modification, which explains this unlikely statement of the fiendish doctor's intention.
Spidey has suddenly gained a capacity for receiving radio signals with his Spider senses. A faculty never mentioned before or after, just to contrive a means by which he is able to hear the mayday being sent by one of the lavaside mine slaves, who somehow gained hold of a transmitter device. And whose lips indicate the speaking of the following words: rocket, robin, hood, on, sherwood, and asteroid. This contrivance can be forgiven as it is necessary for establishing the Spidey excursion of mercy. Still, how convenient further that only Spidey's peculiarly attuned hearing would be able to intercept the message! And Spidey happens to know of a newfangled rocket aeroplane on an ascension field simply waiting there for him to appropriate it. A rocket aircraft that changes shape after Spidey embarks in it and launches it over the sea, and that on exterior view it has three people in the piloting area, because the footage thereof is from a Rocket Robin Hood episode with Robin, Little John, and Will Scarlet aboard their spacecraft. Manta activates his beetles, and the giant insects rip apart Spidey's futuristic transport as soon as it lands on the island. From this scene onward, cartoon animation of Spidey is substituted for that of Rocket Robin and Will Scarlet from the Rocket Robin Hood episode, "From Menace to Menace". Much of the dialogue between Manta and Igor is recycled unchanged from the Rocket Robin Hood story, even when it conflicts with what is supposed to be happening in the Spiderman outing. For example, after Spidey has disposed of the army of beetles and starts advancing upon Manta's castle, Igor says, "They're walking right up to the castle." There should in that sentence be a singular and not a plural pronoun followed by the verb of web-swinging rather than walking. It is within the realm of possibility for Spidey to be walking, but the viewer does not see that, and nor does Spidey say that he will be doing that. Twice, Manta refers to the location of the episode as an asteroid, not an island. If he is an extraterrestrial (it is never said by him or by any other character where he comes from), he might be referring thusly to the whole Earth, ignorant that Earth is a planet and not an asteroid, but as he also in one case uses the adjective of desolate, it would seem highly unlikely that this is descriptive of a whole "asteroid Earth"- unless a largely fertile biosphere abundant in sentient life and centres of habitation is his idea of desolate. Besides, Manta refers to his locale as an island and not as an asteroid earlier in this Spidey episode. The viewer's confusion over what exactly is the setting of most of this story, is accentuated by the occasional background imagery of moons or planets in the sky.
Other problems or unsatisfactory elements are as follows. Gargoyles as seen from footage from the Rocket Robin Hood episode become flying birds in scenes from "Menace From the Bottom of the World". Next, Spidey is not shown entering Manta's castle or first seeing the very bizarre pair of villains. There is a fade to black after a web-swinging scene, and a conversation between Manta and Spidey is abruptly joined in progress. A Mountain Monster created by Manta is said by Manta to be capable of destroying "this entire asteroid", and it is exploded by Spidey, who rams Manta's lavaside-filled spaceship into the gigantic stone creature, ejecting from that spaceship prior to the collision. How interesting that Spidey has gained the ability to pilot with precision so many different forms of conveyance! Rocket aircraft and spaceships! Manta and Igor are presumably imprisoned somewhere, though it is not shown nor stated what does become of them. And finally, Spidey returns to New York City in the same rocket aircraft by which he travelled to the island, with no explanation how it was reassembled from the heap of wreckage that Manta's beetles had left of it.
"Phantom From the Depths of Time" is a mess, coming rather early in the first Bakshi production block- and immediately after another "cheater" episode. It is doubtful that even with more modification to dialogue and backgrounds and some additional animation, "Phantom From the Depths of Time" could have ever worked as a satisfying entry to this Spiderman television series. Also, the title of the episode has scant relevance to what transpires and would seem much, much more apt to be the title to the next entry in the 1967-70 Spidey television series, "The Evil Sorcerer", in that a phantom from the depths of time is precisely what Kotep the sorcerer is said in that story to be.
"The Evil Sorcerer" is a return to form for Bakshi and company. New backgrounds, new villain by name of Kotep, substantially new cartoon animation, and a completely new story in conjunction with the first six Season 2 episodes, in that Peter is mingling with his peers in an educational establishment and trying in vain to spend some quality time with Susan, the same girl who spurned him in "Criminals in the Clouds". And again Peter needs to prioritise his need to become Spiderman to stop a threatening quantity, over his wish to gain and keep the attention of Susan. Here, in order to change into Spiderman, he rushes out of the museum room where Susan is in peril, hereby appearing cowardly to the girl whom he wishes to romance.
As in "Menace From the Bottom of the World", Spidey is in an otherworldly location for the episode's climax, a dark, phantasmagorical dominion which Spidey successfully unfurls, reducing the enemy before the enemy's followers, this time by webbing and dropping the sceptre from which Kotep is able to wield his wizard powers. This is the first episode to happen partly in a different dimension, that of black magic, to where Kotep transfers following his initial confrontation with Spiderman in the university museum. Kotep's abilities as an "evil magician" extend far beyond simple rabbit-from-hat tricks or slight of hand. He is able to conjure flying, hulking beasts and giant spider webs- with a titan of a spider nestled therein. The premise of the episode being wizards and black magic of grandiose, other-dimensional proportion, "The Evil Sorcerer" does tend to be the target of criticism for Bakshi detractors. Spiderman, they say, belongs in New York City combating foes with abilities not of the ethereal and extravagant nature of one like Kotep. However, it is conceivable that the peoples of ancient times were able to tap into a vast reservoir of metaphysical energy revealed somehow to them in their era, and from this was spawned a race of magicians that found or created a quite demonic spatial dimension. Kotep's revival in the museum by an obsessive professor is played in rather a gaudy fashion, though conceptually is not much different from the Green Goblin's summoning of evil spirits in Season 1's "The Witching Hour" or Miss Trubble's magic chest in "Here Comes Trubble". And as for an alternate world of magic, that is not a really tremendous stretch beyond the possibilities posited in such Season 1 stories. After all, the demons of the spirit world or the evoked creatures of Greek myth came from somewhere, e.g. some other continuum of space-time, and the Bakshi cartoon-animation team do bring to life quite elaborate images of what such an alternative dimension might look like, and depict an interesting trap by which Spidey crosses the boundary between his world and Kotep's.
The giant spider engineered by Kotep is something of segue into the next two stories, both involving titanic parodies of an Earthly life form, particularly a plant and a cat, stalking and terrorising the streets of Manhattan. In "Vine" and "Pardo Presents", Spidey's home metropolis is besieged by two tremendous energy-absorbing creatures, floral and feline, both of which are neutralised by a surge of energy that neither is able to digest. Yes, it is by this time that a tendency toward psychedelia on the part of the Bakshi team was definitely manifest. There is no other way of describing such scenes as a cat's eye filling a theatre screen and emitting a gaseous paralysis field from its pupil and absorbing satchels of money and jewelry- in addition to the fleeing villain and the pursuing Spidey, or Spidey being chased on building tops by the enormous black feline, or a towering vine moving of its own volition, crushing houses in its path, writhing in New York City Harbour with parts of the Brooklyn Bridge collapsed in the background, and that same vine swallowing two radium gems thrown at it by Spidey. And all of this rendered with the exquisite visual flair unique to Bakshi. Lavish colours. Shapely abstract designs.
Next are two consecutive crash-landed aeroplane journeys to southern locales and contact with lost tribes of people, one rather more culturally advanced than the other, with a volcano featuring in the climax of both stories. "Cloud City of Gold" is an exquisitely designed and gorgeously coloured foreign adventure for Spidey and a trio of Latinos. The mix of browns, reds, yellows, and, of course, gold, is a feast for the eyes, and of particular note are scenes involving a bat-infested underground river with solid gold stalagmites and stalactites, Spidey's battle against an Aztec War Bird, with said bird hitting a gong and shattering into particles of gold that fall to ground, and a fabulous Spidey-versus-huge-arachnid confrontation in the mouth of a volcano, whose subsequent eruption causes an earthquake that cracks and crumbles the golden buildings of the majestic settlement in a beautiful though devastating spectacle. All accompanied by some of the most exotically evocative music ever used in this 1960s Spidey television series. "Neptune's Nose Cone", too, should receive commendation for its conceived and designed main locale. An Antarctic island close enough to the northerly latitudes of the tropics to have some rather lush vegetation but sufficiently cold for its brutish inhabitants to wear animal furs and crave warmth. And the strange land visited in "Neptune's Nose Cone" is the habitat of some ghastly, grotesquely evolved creatures, which Spidey must combat in his struggle to free his female friend, Penny Jones, from her bindings and blindfold as she sits atop a spaceship capsule soon to be dropped into a volcano.
Then it is a return to New York City for several episodes, but what is ahead there for Spiderman is anything but mundane. Contact with extraterrestrials, an effort to stop an expansive, consuming black terror born of the cinema screen, an encounter with another super-hero, and a couple of binding or incarcerating predicaments for a rendered-unconscious web-swinger so extraordinary that only they could bring to a close this whopper of an imaginative season!
"Home" is an irresistible tale of requited though circumstantially impossible love in which, contrary to the usual scenario, Peter is the approached party, and by a beautiful girl whose presence causes Peter's spider-sense to tingle. Quite a daring double-entendre for an animated cartoon television show! But only a post-pubescent audience should notice it. "Home" presents to Spidey the most cogent dilemma of identity and purpose yet. The girl whom he loves as Peter is found to be stealing equipment from a Manhattan electronics vendor and therefore must be fought by Spiderman. Then comes further surprises. The girl recognises Spidey as Peter Parker, and she can spin and swing on webs- just like Spidey! Plus, she has male accomplices in her crime who are likewise endowed of spider abilities. They are a peaceable reconnaissance team from another planet, due to be transported to their home but not before their awesome subterranean base of spheres and towers will be bombarded by the proton rays emitted from a nearby test device of human design. The electronic equipment was being stolen in the extraterrestrials' attempt to weaken the proton device, permitting them to withstand the proton rays for sufficient time for them to be returned to their home. Some of the charm of "Home" comes from the visuals and music, most particularly from a prolonged scene of panning camera across a jazzy musical troupe playing guitars, drums, and tambourines, and the dancers in the coffee shoppe- stylish footage that would be recycled in later stories. And there is the glorious melody that plays during Spidey's web-swinging to the proton device to put the spider-people's mechanical improvisation at its designated place.
A first time beholder of the title of "Blotto" in large, white print set against the moonlit New York City Harbour, would be forgiven to think that he or she is about to watch an episode about an intoxicated stupor. How such a title for an episode and name for a monster came about is indeed curious. A black ink blot of immense proportions, capable of obscuring large sections of Manhattan, must have been the initial idea, followed by the capability of that blot to not only obscure but dissolve, or consume, whatever it touches. Naming the blot by a colloquialism for extreme drunkenness suggests that such was the desired impression of seeing a black object expanding to devour most everything. "Trippiness" was no doubt the intended effect, and it was achieved in spades!
A planet of spreading darkness in Bakshi's first season of Rocket Robin Hood was also given the name of Blotto, denoting, it would seem, a tendency on the part of Bakshi and/or his writers for using this word. A reader may form his or her own conclusions about this. But whatever the origins of its word choice, "Blotto" is quite an iconic episode in the Ralph Bakshi conception of Spiderman. It has all of the by now expected elements, elements that will recur at times in the remainder of this distinctive television series, and stretches them to the ultimate effect. A monster in Manhattan, psychedelic in its appearance and action, wreaking havoc, causing panic, and flustering the New York City officials. Said monster is unstoppable by conventional means- including military bombing, and created and let loose upon the world by a laughing, unhinged genius via an invented object of extraordinary power- and its rampage ended by Spidey by way of the same object confiscated from the villain, who has been vanquished in his chosen lair by a Spidey kick in the face. Scenes in this story darkly yet brilliantly devised by Bakshi and company leave rather a lasting impact upon the riveted viewer: the unsettlingly sinister frown on Blotto's eyes as it passes through urban sprawl, digesting mailboxes, street poles, cars, and whole buildings, and growing ever more pervasive as a result; Spidey being surrounded by Blotto on the street, descending to the sewers, and fleeing down a tunnel, with a string of Blotto, forming at its head into an obscene hand, chasing Spidey to an underground power complex, a wide perspective of the metropolitan area as seen from the Hudson River being "blotted out" in a pair of divergent sweeps of the monster's black mass.
"Blotto" was arguably the most ambitious of all of the Spiderman episodes produced by Bakshi. Limited though it may be, the cartoon animation, most of it new to this episode, conveys with precision the terror of a city under siege by an uncanny, swallowing creature. And it is enhanced by some of the most energetic and frightening music ever utilised in the 1967-70 Spiderman. Scenes of Peter Parker and a European actress in Peter's car are quite stylishly rendered, visually and aurally, and, limited cartoon animation aside, are also rather difficult to fault. Unfortunately, in the latter half of the story, cartoon animation of Blotto against the New York City backgrounds starts being recycled, some scenes appearing three times, there is protracted web-swinging preceding the climactic moment of confrontation between Blotto and the Spiritscope-holding Spidey, and there is a discrepancy of visuals and dialogue during the villain's statement that he is at the city power station with its lead roof that supposedly will protect him from his monster. While Clive, the villain, is saying this, the viewer is shown the school first visualised in "The Origin of Spiderman". Later outdoor scenes correctly have the nuclear power building of "Swing City", with interior scenes offering views of the nuclear power station's domed roof, even if Clive's control console is not the same as that of the radiation specialist. It is possible for the nuclear power station to have multiple control consoles. However, it must be noted that in one scene located at the power station, the background behind Clive is of the furniture and film projector seen in his house at the episode's start.
"Blotto" is followed in order of production by "Thunder Rumble", another story wherein New York City receives an unwelcome visitation by something capable of reaching as high as building tops, in this case a towering, lightning-bolt-throwing Martian warrior with a desire for gold. As in "Blotto", military aircraft attempt an attack against the strange menace but are unable to halt its advance upon parts of the New York City urban centre, and specifically in this story, the gold bullion building. "Thunder Rumble" is somewhat less successful than "Blotto" due to significantly slower pacing. The central conflict between Spidey and the Martian does not start until the episode is almost half-finished. In the meanwhile, there is a pair of prolonged exposition scenes with the nefarious Boomer talking about how easy it is to explode bank vault doors during thunderstorms and with a Martian dissertation within an arena on the red planet on that people's belligerent nature and intent. Spidey's pursuit of Boomer through the streets of Manhattan and into Central Park lasts for a quite a stretch of time, enough for three whole pieces of music to play! Once the Martian appears in Central Park, the episode starts at last to really energise, peaking with a final confrontation between Spidey and the Martian outside of the gold depositary. En route to this climax, there is a tense situation in Central Park, where Spidey believes that his webbing will pin the giant to the bed of a small lake, only to be thwarted by Boomer, who cuts some of the webbing while Spidey is otherwise occupied, i.e. talking to some college students who assisted him in stringing his webbing to cars for the maximum possible effect in restraining the Martian. Once freed by Boomer from Spidey's webbing, the Martian becomes accomplice to Boomer (or vice versa). An interesting team of wrong-doers, and Spidey is for a time unable to engage them in battle after he becomes the unwilling passenger of a super-fast, Moon-bound lightning fork thrown by the otherworlder, before his spinning of a web enables him to propel himself clear of the speeding bolt of light.
Its enormous extraterrestrial antagonist propelling a force of nature definitely places "Thunder Rumble" among the more fantastic stories of Bakshi's oeuvre, animation of the human and alien villains is indeed quite competent, there are no all-too-obviously recycled scenes, and the background art of Central Park, some of which to be used again in the next produced episode, "Spiderman Meets Skyboy", is appealingly rendered with usual Bakshi style of grim though beautiful form and spacing. However, the episode does drag rather noticeably in its first half.
"Spiderman Meets Skyboy" presents quite a unique storyline for this Spiderman television show: Spidey meeting another, skies-traversing super-hero, albeit a neophyte concerned only for the whereabouts and the rescue of his kin. However, "Spiderman Meets Skyboy" is hampered with some lapses in logic, such as how Spidey is able to stay suspended in mid-air while he is engaging in two-fisted combat with Skyboy, and especially why Spidey is so belligerent toward Skyboy in the first place. Pride? Vanity of wanting to be Manhattan's only super-heroic defender? Not exactly becoming of Spidey this far into his super-heroic career. After all, what is wrong about there being another super-powered crime-fighter? The more the merrier, one should think. Perhaps Spidey is as yet unconvinced of the beneficence of Skyboy's intentions, but, then, all he needs to do is ask Skyboy what the intent is in the youth's ascending to the skies. The premise of the episode needs to be received with several pinches of salt, but once that is accomplished, there is quite an exciting time to be had in watching Spiderman meeting Skyboy. Peter Parker and Jan Caldwell are kindred spirits in the sense that the removal from their lives of their father figures is what prompts them to go into super-heroic action. Jan, however, is able to preserve his father from the evil of a villain, with Spidey's assistance, once the web-swinger recognises Jan Caldwell being Skyboy's alter-ego and that, "Wow, suddenly, everything starts to make sense." The villain of the episode is an Asian stereotype, and being able to produce thunder and lightning claps when his hands are forced together above his head is rather similar to the capability of the electrical-bolt-lancing giant Martian in the preceding episode. With his array or electricity-emitting equipment and impenetrable cages, Zap proves to be a formidable enough villain for the two super-heroes, and he is ironically defeated by Spidey's use of a mere Peter Parker instrument, i.e. the flashbulb on Peter's camera.
"Spiderman Meets Skyboy" is a mesmerising mix of deep reds, yellows, and dark greens, along with some blues, and it has 1967-70 Spiderman music at its moodiest, starting with the only-time-utilised upbeat melody initiating the episode, followed by the tunes of desolation in the aftermath of Caldwell Sr.'s abduction, and, later, some distinctly spooky motifs accompanying the Lightning Mountain scenes.
In "Cold Storage" and "To Cage a Spider", Spiderman receives an unconsciousness-inducing assault by a member of a pair of thieves, in one story then being bound in rope and placed inside a freezer and in the other story imprisoned by the N.Y.P.D. following a steep plummet to the street. "Cold Storage" is one of Spidey's most unusual and disturbing experiences. Although the evil Dr. Cool has mentioned that delusions and dreams are common to persons in conditions of extreme cold, the viewer readily believes as real what Spidey is seeing after his ostensibly sleeping beyond the nuclear freezer's supply of power and finding the freezer door and the surrounding building aged and decrepit. New York City is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a mix of still-standing or collapsed buildings of various states of decay, streets with uprooted pipes, and littered vestiges of the culture of a somehow destroyed technological world. Orangey and deep reds, whites, and cooler shades of blue are the main colours for this episode, in which Spidey has done a Rip Van Winkle and then some, sleeping for who knows how long and awakening to find no evidence of surviving civilisation. Rather, a world where primitives have "taken over". Latter-day Cro-Magnons who populate the ruins of Manhattan and who have adapted what remains of the modern conveniences of automobiles, clocks, and head protection gear to use in their barbaric and tribal way of life. It is a scenario that only Bakshi and crew could envision and realise so cogently. A triumph of production design for this rushed and funding-limited television series!
Spidey's struggle to survive in the entropic metropolis of the future encompasses battles not only with savage men but also with such revived prehistoric beasts as a mastodon, a giant bird, and a tyrannosaurus rex! Eventually, his head goes into a spin, and he is back in the freezer, the depressing future New York City revealed to the surprise and relief of the viewer, to be one of those delusions of which Dr. Cool spoke. This remarkable episode comes to a standard and gratifying conclusion, with Spidey subjecting Dr. Cool and Cool's thuggish henchman to quite a chilly deluge, pending their capture by police.
"To Cage a Spider", though also showing Spidey losing consciousness and being put "in a cooler" (a "cooler" of a different kind, though), is as different an approach to storytelling to that of "Cold Storage" as one would think possible. It is "gritty"- as usual for Bakshi- but far less fanciful in conception than anything in Season 2 since "King Pinned". Spidey has become somewhat cynical, lamenting the requirement of, "Swinging from building to building, running around in a hot costume." And next says Spidey of his crime-fighting endeavours and their unique methods, "Sometimes I wonder why." Considerable time has evidently passed since the early days of Spidey's career when he was in unshakable earnest about his responsibility, even when Peter's social life was adversely affected. It would seem that Jameson's slanted news coverage of Spidey's deeds is having a demoralising effect on the web-swinger, even if only "sometimes". That and perhaps further frustration in Peter's life. "There are few things freakier than your typical teenaged super-hero," Spidey says. "I've got enough hang-ups already."
Doubt about the legitimacy of his existence is apt indeed in being expressed at the start of an episode wherein Spiderman is about to be captured by police, with impending unmasking and an enforced end to his anonymity in the "hot costume" and perhaps to his freedom to "swing from building to building". Never does one appreciate more one's state of being and ability to do something than when such could very likely become a thing of the past. Hence is "To Cage a Spider" established from near its beginning as a voyage of personal re-discovery for the web-swinging super-hero, and with its successful outcome, there is a reaffirming of Spidey's belief in himself as a costumed, web-swinging crime-fighter. Along the way, Spidey will need to team with the unlikeliest of allies, i.e. convicts, and will have to pretend to be the menace to society that he is portrayed by Jameson to be, in order to gain the confidence of the prison inmates, free himself from police custody, save the life of Captain Stacy, whom the convicts have already seized as a hostage, and prevent the criminals from escaping. Spidey does right by his own standards, deriving a renewed sense of purposeful satisfaction. And he does right by the Captain of police, who is grateful for Spidey's help in thwarting the convicts' jailbreak and rescuing him from their clutches. Spidey's episode-and-season-concluding utterance as he web-swings away from Stacy and the jail is: "Strangely enough I do rather enjoy running around in a hot costume, swinging from building to building." It is interesting and rather pleasing to note that the final episode of the season somewhat hearkens back to the first one, with a weary and cynical Spidey rediscovering the satisfaction to be had in his super-heroic abilities.
"The Origin of Spiderman" Here is how it all started. Student Peter Parker is labelled a "bookworm" by his peers when he declines their offer of a triple-date in favour of viewing a radiology experiment. While attending the experiment, Peter is bitten by a spider exposed to radiation. Dizzy, he goes outside of the Science Building for a walk and quickly finds that he has gained the ability to leap over a car, scale walls, and knock down a lamppost. Somehow, the radiation in the laboratory transferred the properties of the spider to him. Peter concocts a web-spinning formula, knits for himself a costume to conceal his identity, and hopes to use his new-found power for money in order to reimburse his guardians, Aunt May and Uncle Ben, for raising him after the death of his parents, and to improve his own finances. But Peter, preoccupied with his monetary pursuits, fails to help the police to stop a fleeing thief, and the thief later randomly targets the home of Peter's guardians and kills Ben. An enraged Peter, in his costume, confronts the killer in a warehouse and, after punching the criminal unconscious, perceives that the man was the fugitive that he did not earlier help the police to stop. "If I only had tackled him when I had the chance! But I didn't. He escaped, and now, Uncle Ben is dead. Yes, Uncle Ben is dead, and in a sense it was really I who killed him. Because I didn't realise in time that with great power there must also always be great responsibility." Peter vows never to shirk his super-hero duty again. "Robbers, killers, beware. Spiderman is here." "King Pinned" On his first night at work at the Daily Bugle, Peter overhears talk of a fake medicine racket engineered by a rotund mobster called the Kingpin, whose thugs have a laboratory somewhere where they produce cheap, imitation pharmaceuticals, which are then peddled at gunpoint to druggists, who are subsequently frightened into selling the fake medicine and not signing a complaint for the police. But Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, who has been informed of this diabolical scheme, is not one to be frightened by anybody and plans to print an exclusive news story about it- and he is kidnapped by the Kingpin. Spiderman pursues the Kingpin's car, in which Jameson is being transported to the mobster's penthouse suite. At the penthouse, Spidey intrudes upon the Kingpin's difficult browbeating of Jameson, and the Kingpin and Jameson are both staggered at the sight of the new, costumed crime-fighter. The Kingpin sprays gas at Spidey and seems to render the super-hero unconscious. He offers to Jameson an exclusive newspaper story about Spiderman in exchange for Jameson cancelling the news report on the fake medicine, but Spidey springs into action and startles the Kingpin's thugs, downing them with one punch each. The Kingpin escapes the penthouse by helicopter and before leaving tells to Spiderman that the Daily Bugle presses are wired with a bomb primed to explode once the presses start rolling at midnight. Spidey must return to the Bugle in time to disarm the bomb. He does. Although the Kingpin has eluded capture, the story about the fake medicine is printed, the imitation pharmaceuticals are removed from sale, and Peter's Aunt May, whose health has suffered due to unsuspecting use of the Kingpin's false drugs, will recover now that she is receiving authentic medication again. "Swing City" A twisted radiation specialist gains illicit dominion over Manhattan's new and only nuclear power plant and uses a special ray to lift Manhattan into the clouds, and unless he is amply paid, granted amnesty from arrest, and permitted to build his own nuclear reactor, he will deactivate the ray and plunge the island by force of gravity back down to Earth. Peter must postpone his date with Sonya, an attractive fellow student, to tunnel into the power plant to stop the madman. The radiation specialist, suspecting that Spiderman's spider-powers are the result of exposure to radiation, tries to neutralise Spidey's radiation-born abilities by subjecting Spidey to anti-radiation, but by force of will, Spidey resists the anti-radiation and kicks the specialist in the face. The enraged specialist fires a ray gun at Spidey, who ducks, and the ray from the gun hits and cripples the equipment sustaining the Manhattan-levitating radiation. Spidey webs the specialist and achieves control of the power plant's nuclear reactor in sufficient time to ease the falling island back into its proper position on Earth, and the specialist is incarcerated by the NYPD. Sonya, angry at Peter for his not being by her side during the crisis, snubs him when he telephones her to apologise. "Criminals in the Clouds" Roy Robinson, accomplished football player, campus ladies' man, son of a wealthy chemical industrialist, is envied by Peter, who decides to use his spider-power to play football and outperform Robinson. But there are no openings on the scholastic football circuit, and all that Peter can do is act as water-boy in wait of a playing opportunity. An aerial villain, the green-faced Sky Master, wants the formula to an invisibility serum being produced by the Robinson Industries laboratories, in order to duplicate the serum for his own criminal use, to render his dirigible invisible and enable his flying army to attack with ease the surface world that he detests. To force the formula from Robinson Sr.'s lips, the Sky Master drugs Roy and brings the football ace to Sky Master dirigible headquarters to hold for ransom (the formula from Roy's father). At the football field, Peter overhears Roy's father reporting Roy's kidnapping and the terms of the Sky Master's ransom to police, and, despite his wish to substitute impressively for Roy on the football team, Peter accepts his higher, crime-fighting responsibility and, as Spiderman, searches for the Sky Master. Spidey notices a peculiar cloud formation and infers that the cloud is a camouflage for the Sky Master's headquarters. Webbing himself to the dirigible within the cloud, Spidey boards the dirigible and battles the Sky Master's men, attracting fire from the Sky Master's ray gun and ducking, with the ray from the gun striking the dirigible's engines and sending the flaming airship careening toward the Hudson River. Spidey frees Roy before the Sky Master's doomed dirigible crashes and, with his webbing, helps Roy, whose arms are numb, to win a crucial football game for his team. "Menace From the Bottom of the World" Investigating the disappearance of banks (which have been mechanically submerged to deep inside the Earth), Spidey finds a hole that leads to a maze of underground tunnels, through which Spidey undertakes a perilous journey in search of the lost occupants of the submerged banks, and he comes upon a bizarre city populated by group of Molemen led by a maniac intent on conquest of the "surface people", some of whom- the occupants of the banks-the Molemen are holding prisoner. When the Mole leader starts ranting megalomaniacally with the captured bank occupants as an unwilling audience, Spidey announces his presence, and the Mole leader orders the Molemen to seize Spidey, who cleverly causes the Molemen to collide with tunnel beams and with each other. Spidey descends on the Mole leader, discovers that the leader is wearing a mask, and removes the mask to reveal convicted criminal Mugs Riley, who tunnelled out of prison months previous and kept digging until he found the caverns leading to Mole City, then disguised himself and gained control over the tractable Molemen, to use as his stooges in a scheme to plunder the bank wealth of the surface world. The Molemen react furiously when they learn of Riley's identity and deception of their noble race for a criminal purpose, and they agree to return the banks and people to the Earth's surface and give Riley to Spidey for return to prison. "Diamond Dust" A baseball diamond and the spherical, baseball-sized Optimo Diamond at the Cosmopolitan Museum are connected in this episode as Peter, about to be the star pitcher in a collegiate baseball game, is obliged to don his Spidey-suit once to stop a rampaging ape at the New York City Zoo and again to thwart men in ape disguise at the museum from stealing the Optimo. The elaborate plot of a suave, criminal mastermind involves releasing a gorilla from its cage at the zoo, guaranteeing panic and a summons of most of the NYPD to the zoo, thus enabling his men, dressed as apes, to filch the gem from the museum without police in the museum's vicinity, and with any witnesses believing that the jewel theft is mere "monkey business". Spidey subdues the ape at the zoo so that it can be re-caged and later responds to an elderly man's claim that, "The apes are in the museum," by entering and stopping the thieves and their leader from exiting the establishment. Disguised as a knight, Spidey surprises the thugs, banging their heads together and throwing some of his knight disguise armour at one of them. Then, the mastermind-leader throws a smoke cartridge at Spidey, and Spidey chases the suave scoundrel to the roof of the museum, where the debonair thief tosses to Spidey the Optimo and tries to push Spidey off of the roof, only to himself fall, onto a net provided by the New York City Fire Department and the NYPD. Peter rushes to the baseball game in time to throw the winning pitch, but none of his fellow players can ever know that the winning pitch was actually made with the Optimo, which Peter, as Spidey, will return to the police. "Spiderman Battles the Molemen" This half-baked sequel to "Menace From the Bottom of the World" contains a large amount of footage from that story. Mugs Riley, evidently escaped from prison, has duped the Molemen into following him again, even though they angrily deposed him in "Menace From the Bottom of the World", and arranges for Spiderman to be attached to a building so that the web-swinger will be brought underground along with the building, to face the revenge of Mugs Riley. Spidey is struck unconscious from behind by one of the Molemen and falls from atop a Mole City building, then is tied to a pole as Mole leader Riley ponders an appropriate means of execution. Feisty Daily Bugle reporter Hammond, among the humans who were in the submerged building, distracts the Molemen from the revived Spidey, who webs and pulls a hatchet in the direction of the ropes binding him to the pole, and the hatchet breaks enough of the ropes for Spidey to free himself, fight the Molemen by means of the same successful techniques as in the first encounter, and web Riley. After Spidey orders the Molemen to return the building and people to the Earth's surface, which they do, Riley removes from his robe pocket a knife to cut the web that entangles him, and he fires a ray gun at Spidey. Spidey ducks (as usual), and the gun's ray hits vital equipment. Spidey escapes Mole City before it and Riley are destroyed by a huge explosion. "Phantom From the Depths of Time" An episode mostly consisting of animation from Krantz Films' Rocket Robin Hood television series. Giant, mechanical beetles, formed from mushrooms by sonic impulses transmitted from an organ played by the sinister Dr. Manta (a Rocket Robin Hood villain), are used by Manta to capture and enslave the peace-loving inhabitants of an island to mine a valuable ore. One of the enslaved manages to send a distress call at a frequency that only Spiderman's spider-sense can receive, and Spidey attains possession of an experimental, rocket-powered aeroplane to fly to the island and help the shackled people. Manta's hunchbacked assistant, Igor, has intercepted and stopped the distress transmission, and Manta prepares a "welcoming committee" (the beetles) for Spidey's arrival. The beetles tear through Spidey's aeroplane, but Spidey correctly infers that they are robots and commandeers one of them to collide with all of the others. Manta utilises the sonic-impulse-transmitting organ to transform a large rock formation into a rampaging, stone elephant that chases Spidey to the edge of a cliff, over which the elephant falls to its doom, while Spidey clings to the wall of the cliff at its highest point. Manta further hopes to stop Spidey with gargoyles and an alligator, but Spidey survives these challenges and reaches Manta's lair inside of a castle. Manta "pounds the ivory" of his organ to create a mountain monster programmed to destroy the whole Earth, and Spidey confiscates Manta's spaceship that is loaded with the ore, a powerful explosive, which Manta has been forcing the island people to mine, and rams the spaceship into the monster, after first ejecting himself from the spaceship to escape the brunt of the blast as the monster is destroyed by the explosive. Spidey releases the island's people, and Manta and Igor are jailed. "The Evil Sorcerer" In ancient Egypt, one of the most aggressive of evil magicians, Kotep, the Scarlet Sorcerer, is defeated in battle with an opponent, and his own demons strike him with a cursing ball of fire that puts him in suspended animation, his mummified remains lasting through the passing centuries and becoming an exhibit at a New York City university and the object of a professor's obsession. The professor believes that he has found the incantations to revive Kotep and fanatically uses them. Kotep is returned to life, commands one of his resurrected demons to attack and seriously injure the professor, and threatens some of the professor's students, one of whom is Peter's girl-friend, Susan. Peter becomes Spiderman and engages in an indecisive battle with Kotep before the scarlet-clad sorcerer vanishes, with his demon, into another dimension to build an empire of black magic. Recovering in hospital, the professor repents and tells to a group of visiting students that Kotep's sceptre is the source of Kotep's magical power. Kotep has materialised a huge spider web in New York City to entice Spidey into investigating and becoming caught in the web, to be transported to Kotep's realm. While Spidey is struggling in the web, he hears Susan urging him to grab Kotep's sceptre. After Spidey is transferred into Kotep's midst and ensnared there in an identically huge spider web, he webs the sceptre and pulls it out of Kotep's hand. Spidey becomes dazed and drops the sceptre, which shatters when it hits ground, and the sorcerer is unable to exist any longer in any present dimension and vanishes into the depths of time. Spidey is returned to New York City, where the giant spider web vanishes. "Vine" A giant plant escapes from storage in a house belonging to Prof. Smithers, a missing scientist. Spidey goes through a portal (located in the scientist's home) to prehistoric times to find some defence against the plant and meets Smithers, who tells to him that two radium gems in an idol in a nearby city, if ingested by the plant in New York, will disintegrate it. The city, once upon a time inhabited by Smithers' apish helpers, has been captured by sentient plants not as large as the plant rampaging through New York. The sentient plants in the prehistoric city thrive on the radiation from the gems in regular doses. The plants catch Spidey in the act of trying to reach the idol with the gems, and they punish the intrusion of the "animal" Spiderman by pitting him against a huge, monstrous slug in an arena battle. Spidey's agility and web- spinning prowess defeats the slug, and Spidey webs the leader plant for good measure! With all of the plants in the arena, Spidey easily removes the radium gems from the idol and leaves the city. The plants, now without their regular radiation feed, wither and die, so that Smithers' group can reclaim the city. Spidey brings the two radium gems through the portal to modern New York City and feeds them to the giant plant, which cannot digest all of the potent radium energy at once. It disintegrates. "Pardo Presents" Pardo is a sorcerer with the ability to transform himself into a giant cat with hypnotic eyes. He lures top New York City citizens and officials to a theatre with the promise of a spectacular show, then releases his feline alter-ego's power upon the hapless audience, intending to divest them of their wealth and sap the souls out of their bodies. But Peter has obtained theatre admission tickets and is attending the performance with his girl-friend, Polly. His spider-powers enable him to resist the cat's hypnotism, and he changes to Spiderman to lead the huge cat on a chase atop the buildings of New York City, thus luring it away from the theatre so that everyone there can recover from the evil feline's influence. The chase ends in a confrontation at the Brooklyn Bridge, where the cat jumps onto a web-net spun by Spidey and attached to an electric train rail. The electricity short-circuits the cat's- and Pardo's- power, reducing cat and Pardo to the remains of Pardo's clothes. "Cloud City of Gold" Peter is an exchange student in South America, flying in a charter aeroplane with a Latin American professor in the Andes mountains. The aeroplane encounters a violent storm and crashes in a jungle, and Peter changes to Spiderman to assist the professor and the aeroplane's two pilots in leaving the jungle and returning to civilisation. A whirlpool on a rapid stream submerges Spidey and the three men on their makeshift wooden raft into an underground river, where Spidey's whistling foils an attack by a group of bats. The river's flow brings Spidey and his companions to a majestic city constructed from pure gold and guarded by an Aztec tribe. Spidey's three companions are captured, and the city's ruler, DiVargas, orders the hitting of a gong to summon a golden Aztec war bird to fight Spidey, who forces the bird into the ice of a mountain peak, freezing the bird's wings so that it collides with the gong and crumbles to pieces. Spidey grabs an axe-like weapon from one of the Aztec guards and web-swings toward DiVargas, but DiVargas' sharp-shooters snap Spidey's web so that Spidey falls into a volcano and onto a web above the lava. On the web, Spidey battles a huge spider. He steps onto a narrow rim of rock and uses his axe to cut the web. The spider falls toward the lava and becomes entangled in its own broken web. DiVargas angrily orders the firing of a cannon at Spidey, but the cannonball misses its target and falls into the volcano's lava, inciting the volcano to erupt, after Spidey has exited the volcano's mouth. As the Aztecs are fleeing their auric settlement in panic, Spidey releases his companions, and they depart the City of Gold by the route from which they came, before the entire lustrous city is blasted into nonexistence by the force of the volcanic eruption. Peter removes his Spiderman costume and pretends to have been near the crashed aeroplane while the others were being helped by Spidey. A helicopter arrives to rescue Peter and his three fellow aeroplane crash survivors. "Neptune's Nose Cone" On Jameson's orders, Peter and Daily Bugle pilot Penny Jones travel by small-engine aeroplane to the Antarctic Ocean to track a fallen nose cone and crash-land on an island with a superstitious, brutish, native population. Penny is captured by the savages, and when Peter changes to Spiderman to help her, he learns that the primitives have found the nose cone and plan to drop it and Penny into a dormant volcano as a sacrifice to their fire god in return for warmth. Spidey acts to save Penny's life and to stop the savages from unwittingly destroying their island as the nose cone, plugging the volcano, will cause an immense explosion. But the island contains many obstacles to Spidey's effort, including a flying snake, hostile plant life, a seemingly endless, huge-idol-filled cavern containing horrific creatures, and the tribal primitives themselves. Spidey swings to Penny's rescue as she is pushed by the tribe's shaman into the volcano, and the nose cone conveniently ignites its engine and flies away, after causing the volcano to erupt modestly so that the natives are given warmth. Peter and Penny ask the natives to help them to repair the propeller to their aeroplane so that they can return to New York City, where Jameson does not believe their story. "Home" At a coffee house, Peter meets Carol, a girl with whom he has much in common; he does not realise to what extent that they are alike until he, as Spiderman, catches Carol in the act of robbing electrical equipment and finds that she has powers identical to his! Thwarting her thievery, Spidey is attacked and webbed by two of Carol's stooges, spider-powered men who emerge from a sphere. Carol and her accomplices depart the crime site in the sphere, but Spidey frees himself from the webbing and follows the sphere across half the United States to its underground lair and, to his shocked amazement, discovers an extraterrestrial civilisation of spider-people awaiting transportation to their home world but needing first to stop a scientific proton test that will destroy their Earth base before their transport ray is due. Carol was trying to steal the equipment from a New York City warehouse to neutralise the proton test device by remote control. Though they have a mechanical box capable of weakening the proton test device, Carol and her people cannot go near the proton test device themselves, not even before the test's commencement; they are susceptible to proton emissions of any sort, even the minimal emissions near to the device prior to the test. As he is not vulnerable to proton emissions, Spidey offers to himself transport the box, and though Carol's leader at first refuses Spidey's help because it would violate certain "rules", the leader concedes that only Spidey can save the lives of his extraterrestrial spider-people from the proton test device. Spidey succeeds in transporting the box and weakening the device long enough for the teleporting ray to arrive to transport Carol and her people to safety, to transport them home. "Blotto" Clive, an unbalanced movie producer, is determined to avenge himself upon critics and audiences who spurned his claim that the darkest human emotions could be filmed and physically released from a theatre screen. He has achieved a means of doing this with his new invention, the cane-like Spirit-Scope, which brings to life a screen monster- a two-eyed, black blob that devours everything that it touches. Clive sets the blob loose upon New York City, and it starts its feed by consuming a lamppost, a mailbox, and a string of trash cans. Peter is escorting in his car an international film actress to a university for a guest appearance there when his car exhausts its gasoline supply, and to their shock, Peter and the actress see Clive's monster, Blotto, covering and consuming parked cars and directing itself toward them! As Blotto eats Peter's car, Peter spins a web to pull himself and the fainted actress to the top of a building. The New York City Fire Department arrives on the scene to spray water at Blotto, but the water passes straight through the monster! Changing to Spiderman, Peter grabs a fire extinguisher from the N.Y.F.D. and discharges its content onto the black terror, but the fire extinguisher, too, is ineffective. Blotto surrounds Spidey, leaving a manhole as the only route of escape. So, Spidey descends to the sewers, and Blotto follows him to an abandoned, subterranean power station, where Spidey attempts in vain to stop Blotto by electrocution. Blotto's feast increases to railroad tracks, Brooklyn Bridge parts, and whole buildings. The military cannot bomb Blotto because the bombs would pass through the monster and hit the city. Spiderman concludes that his only hope of preserving New York City from utter annihilation is to find Clive, who is gloating on the television screens at City Hall, and obtain and reverse the effect of the device that evoked Blotto to living reality. Spidey confronts Clive at the Manhattan nuclear power plant, whose lead roof is immune to Blotto, kicks Clive in the face, and gains possession of the Spirit-Scope, with which Spidey is able to turn the monster back into theatre screen material, "a paper tiger". Clive is jailed, and New York rebuilds. "Thunder Rumble" A giant Martian warrior, who throws lightning bolts, comes to Earth to rob the planet of its gold. Spiderman's effort to stop the behemoth alien is thwarted by a thieving bomber whom Spidey was about to capture before the Martian appeared on Earth. The bomber offers to guide the Martian to Earth's gold reserves in return for a share in the plunder. The alien and his helper are confronted by Spidey outside of New York City's gold depositary. Spidey dodges the Martian's lightning bolts, until the "big boy" has only one bolt left, one that is indestructible and infinite and that, the Martian intends, will blast Spidey forever into space, but Spidey leaps over the lightning bolt, it arcs around a lamppost, and returns to the befuddled warrior, the Goliath Martian now its unwilling, eternal passenger, as it sends him off of Earth. Spidey completes his crime-fighting work in this instance by punching the bomber into a stupor, to be apprehended by police. "Spiderman Meets Skyboy" Dr. Irving Caldwell has devised a helmet capable of levitating its wearer and is kidnapped by a villainous scientist- the Chinese genius, Dr. Zap, who wants Caldwell's helmet to duplicate for his own evil use. Caldwell's only son, Jan, is determined to find his missing father and dons the helmet to fly the skies of New York State in search for Dr. Caldwell. Spidey soon meets Jan, and after some hostile exchanges, they join forces to combat Dr. Zap at Lightning Mountain. Capturing the pair by suddenly descending them into his headquarters within the mountain, Zap quickly traps Spidey in an unbreakable, transparent cylinder and removes the levitation helmet from the head of Jan as young Caldwell is reunited with his father, who is chained to a wall. Noticing that Zap is light-sensitive, Spidey, conveniently wearing the camera that he brought with him to photograph Jan in flight for the Daily Bugle, activates the camera's flash, which temporarily blinds Zap. The Oriental villain backs into his own machinery and short-circuits it. The resulting explosion dislodges the cylinder from its bearings and releases Spidey, who then unchains Dr. Caldwell. Father, son, and Spidey escape Lightning Mountain before another, larger explosion obliterates Zap's lair. "Cold Storage" Sophisticated diamond thief Dr. Cool and his henchman have heisted a fortune in diamonds and are at a deserted-before-dawn ice factory, planning to smuggle the gems through international customs by mixing the "hot ice" with large quantities of the ordinary variety. When Spiderman intrudes upon their scheme, Cool manipulates his trick cane to knock Spidey unconscious. Spidey is then tied and sealed by Cool's cohort inside of an atomic freezer, and Cool turns the thermostat to absolute zero! Spidey later seems to awaken to find the freezer's power exhausted, his binding ropes frayed and easily broken, and the room of the ice factory dilapidated. Stepping outside of the ice factory's crumbling structure, Spidey is astonished to find himself in a destroyed, future New York City where prehistoric beasts now reign. A tribe of cavemen, riding in a horse-pulled car and wearing bolases, time pieces, football helmets, and neckties, attack the web-swinger, who subdues the primitives with webs and ingenuity. Spidey must next fight a mastodon, a dinosaur, and a giant bird. After vanquishing these foes, Spidey becomes dizzy and lapses into dreamless sleep, until he is awakened for real by the ice delivery man, who has come hours early, at night rather than after sunrise, to the ice factory to obtain his regular load. The delivery man opens the freezer, chips away the ice from Spidey's body, and helps to free the groggy super-hero. He says that Spidey has been in the freezer for nearly 24 hours and was, "...almost a goner." Spiderman anticipates another, early-morning visit by Cool to the ice factory and prepares to confront Cool again. This he does, and Cool's cane does not hit him this time! Spidey drops a bundle of ice on Cool and on Cool's henchman, and the police arrive at the ice factory to apprehend the shivering bandits and to collect the stolen diamonds. "To Cage a Spider" Two robbers dynamite a bank safe and abscond in their car with millions of stolen dollars. Spidey chases them. The villains throw a "Vibrator" device at the web-swinger, and it explodes in Spidey's face! Spidey falls more than 20 building stories to strike a Manhattan street's pavement. Unconscious after his fall, Spidey is surrounded by angry citizens (who are evidently persuaded by Jameson's editorials about Spiderman being a public enemy). Police cars and an ambulance arrive at the scene, and Captain Stacy, wary of unmasking Spidey without expert legal advice, defends the super- hero's right to privacy against the demands of the mob that Spidey's mask be removed immediately. The ambulance transports Spidey to the N.Y.P.D.'s prison infirmary, where, due to the insistence of Jameson, his unmasking is imminent. He therefore- after the effect of his plummet diminishes and he regains his "Spidey-strength"- forms an alliance of necessity with a group of convicts who have initiated a prison-break and have grabbed Stacy as a hostage. Pretending to go along with the convicts, Spidey douses the lights in the jail and webs the prisoners one-by-one until only one of the ruffians remains with Stacy outside of the detention building, near the prison gate. Spidey overpowers the remaining convict, frees Stacy, and web-swings away from the prison.
Season 3"Spiderman Battles the Molemen" had been a "cheater" story, as also had been the mess that was "Phantom From the Depths of Time", but the remainder of Season 2 was an admirable effort to push Spidey into a bonanza of fantastic experiences while, despite budgets and deadlines, providing stories not reliant on past episodes for the lion's share of their cartoon animation, i.e. that of Peter/Spidey and other characters, and their objects and locations drawings.
Season 3 started as an attempt to return to the format of the first season, that of two stories per instalment, with oddly physiqued or garbed villains of solely, or mainly, thieving motivation and mostly not grandiose or Earth-shattering means of criminal action, and more of a role for Jameson and the Daily Bugle, while retaining something of a wild approach to conceptualisation and depiction. It was what could be called a mixture of Seasons 1 and 2, but, sadly, without the amount of polish of either of them. Season 3 had 5 episodes, 2 stories each, that were newly devised and with, for the most part, cartoon animation and backgrounds specially rendered for them, and the other 8 episodes were mostly "cheaters". Cleverly conceived and quite dynamic "cheaters", but "cheaters" nonetheless. "Rhino"/"The Madness of Mysterio" had been completed in the second production block (i.e. Season 2) and withheld for inclusion in Season 3. In production sequence, every episode after "Knight Must Fall"/"The Devious Dr. Dumpty" was a "cheater".
Bakshi and his colleagues, while preparing for a run of original episodes, started the season with a complete two-story "cheater" instalment recycling cartoon animation and storylines from Season 1, and with messy editing in several places and daft scripting yielding quite possibly the two poorest "cheater" stories in the 1967-70 Spiderman canon. Why is the Vulture's stolen animal control device shown as a briefcase full of diamonds? Why does Spidey suddenly have money in his hand while he is fighting the Vulture? Why does the Vulture have an attachment to his head mask in only one medium-wide "camera" frame? Why does Spidey not know where Conner's laboratory is after having been there once before? Why no affectionate reunion between Spidey and Billy Conner? Why is Conner now called Conners? The answer in most of these cases was that the original cartoon animation being utilised was not modified or in any way combined with new material when such modification or new material was necessary for coherence and continuity.
Then, with "Trouble With Snow"/"Spiderman Vs. Desperado", the third season rather hit its mark. Exquisitely imaginative in concept but with an element of restraint. The snowman may be large and growing larger with each snowfall, but it remains within the confines of New York City and came to life by way of a combination of accidents of fully present-day cause. It did not originate in a different time or dimension. It was not the project of sorcery. And nor was it product of a radiation specialist's pseudo-scientific work. And it was defeated by Spidey's use of everyday items to be found in the streets of the city of New York. Desperado, his aims, his methods, and his costume, would have been quite at home in a Season 1 story. And yet, there was quite a fantastical feel to seeing a cowboy criminal riding a mechanical, flying horse.
The further Season 3 episodes offered some more flights of fancy, such as World War One bi-planes with laser guns and paralysing dust bombs, a brainwashing device, invisibility, and a couple of illusionist villains, with an approach constrained to a 1960s-modern New York City setting and within the two-story episode format. There are times, though, when one does have the impression that a story was meant for full-instalment length but was cut by half, leaving some elements to it unaccounted-for, such as the fate of hostages aboard the "flying city" in "Sky Harbour"; one can only assume that Spidey or perhaps their German captors freed those hostages and evacuated them from the airborne aeroplane-launch platform before that platform's fall into the Hudson River.
The Kingpin, one of the least outlandish villains of Season 2, returned to menace Spidey and Spidey's (or Peter's) friends with "The Big Brainwasher", wherein there was the one and only glimpse to be found in the 1967-70 Spiderman television show, of Mary Jane Watson, albeit with a statement by Peter that she is Captain Stacy's niece. Something of a non sequitur in terms of the Spiderman legend beyond this television series, and production did itself no favours by forgetting what Stacy looked like in Season 2's "To Cage a Spider". Unless of course there are two Captain Stacys. Possible, yes, but the later episode, "Specialists and Slaves", would cut back and forth between two quite different renderings of the Stacy character, one the same as in "To Cage a Spider", the other somewhat like the one in "The Big Brainwasher", though less rotund and without the moustache sported in the latter-here-mentioned episode.
Still, "The Big Brainwasher" is a highlight of the third season, as is "The Vanishing Doctor Vespasian". There is something rather disturbing about the facial structure and pallor of the decidedly unbenign chemist-doctor in the above-mentioned latter story, especially when he is shown in close-up imbibing his Invisoscene concoction from a glass. Together with his vicious dog, Brutus, Dr. Vespasian is a palpably menacing criminal genius, somewhat more of a fearsome foe for Spidey than Season 1's Dr. Noah Boddy, and Spidey's bizarre and creamy solution to preventing Vespasian's continued bank plunders is quite delightful in its inception and its performance. An unpleasant-looking and transparently lurking villain doused in sweets, and carted in police custody in an ice cream sundae dish. Priceless! And, yes, humorous. Bakshi's work can at times have a sense of humour, if a wry and usually dark one. It is interesting that both the doctor and his dog have names that allude to ancient Rome, though it is unknown what, if anything, this signifies beyond an historical interest and an acknowledgement that sometimes masters chose names for their pets that in some way relate to their own names.
The mechanically generated illusions seen in "Scourge of the Scarf" and "Super Swami" are psychedelic, for sure. The Sun turning into a diabolical eye. A criminal leaping through a mouth painting. The Moon becoming a pinwheel engulfing the entire nighttime sky. Spiderman spinning amidst a snowstorm within a ball. Psychedelic is the only accurate way to describe such things, and yet they are depicted within the confines of the New York City-bound, two-story format co-opted from Season 1, and in the case of the Scarf's nefarious gang, perpetrated by criminals for monetary theft at public and prestigious-society events, a brand of intended larceny that, method aside, would have fit Season 1 perfectly.
It is clear that money or time or technique, or a combination thereof, was wearing thin half-way into Season 3. Cartoon animation and background errors, voice dubbing blunders, and questionable continuity marred the final completely new story pair, "Knight Must Fall"/"The Devious Dr. Dumpty". And then, the remainder of episodes produced did consist largely of reused footage. "Up From Nowhere", the first of these, is not a "cheater" in a conventional sense. Yes, prior footage was used, but it was modified, with the villain from an earlier story altered into another character of vastly different origin, by adding to his physical characteristics, i.e. literally painting over his upper head and chest area to give to him pointy ears, a fin, and fish scales, and applying additional green to his face, turning the human, land-lubber radiation specialist of "Swing City" into Dr. Atlantian of the underwater continent of Atlantis. And the villain's place of operations retains its hive-like dome and interior layout; however, it is not a nuclear power station on the island of Manhattan but a spherical laboratory of technological terror risen from the murkiest depths of the sea. The story, like its predecessor, "Swing City", involves some extreme jiggery-pokery done to Manhattan island, but in reverse. Instead of the island being levitated, it is encased in a bubble and sunk beneath Atlantic waters. Spidey defeats Atlantian in a manner that closely resembles his victory over the radiation specialist, and, in one scene, Atlantian is the radiation specialist, because animation in that scene was not refined to conform to the different storyline. Moreover, in "Specialists and Slaves", later in the third season, what is supposed to be the radiation specialist in one widely framed view of him at his console is in fact Atlantian, fin and all. Mistakes. Yes, of course. But ever so forgivable, as they occur in two of the best "cheater" stories engineered by the Bakshi team. However imperfect it may be as a re-working of an earlier story, "Up From Nowhere" is, in this writer's estimation, superior to "Swing City" in establishing atmosphere and in presenting a far creepier antagonist with a yet more disturbing plan for the metropolitan isle, plunged to the inky depths, with the music being truly evocative of the dire and ghastly peril in which a huge city populace and its web-swinging saviour find themselves. It is a pity that the original film negative for the episode is evidently lost. Duplicates from a damaged film print are all that remains in circulation.
"Rollarama" is another "cheater" that surpasses the cartoon from which most of its footage was extracted. Rolling pods ravaging the sprawl of New York City and one such pod being extremely close to barrelling over a nearby nuclear missile base do constitute a more substantial and more urgent threat than the rampage of one enormous vine. Not that the vine is unmenacing, but the scale of the rolling pods' destruction- and potential destruction should they descend onto the missile base- exceeds that in "Vine". The animation of the rolling pods is new, as is the the missile base background. Shame about the static depiction of the military, though. And the desolate coldness of the Land of Crystal Creation is conveyed most effectively by the grey-blue colours, by the spatial composition of the backgrounds, by the exposition of the leader of the apish Vegetons, and by the hauntingly eerie music- even though the background visuals are re-touched, re-painted footage of the prehistoric lands and edifices of "Vine". "Rollarama" practically drips with high-stakes dramatic and chilling atmosphere, and it matters little to this writer, that the bulk of the animation of Peter, his girl-friend (different in name from the one seen in "Vine"), Spidey, the plants, the arena slug, and some of the scenes of the apish creatures is recycled wholesale from "Vine", or that in a few cases, like was true for "Up From Nowhere", inappropriate, unrefined footage from a kindred and/or tapped-for-animation episode found its way into the finished product.
"Rhino" is a rehash of episodes of Season 1, though better put together than "The Winged Thing" or "Conner's Reptiles", and "The Madness of Mysterio", which originated as a story in Marvel Comics' The Spectacular Spiderman, is compelling for Spidey's supposed predicament: shrunk, placed in a miniature amusement park filled with deathtraps, and stalked by a full-size Mysterio. It looks like prison disagreed with Mysterio. He has a green complexion and appears to have lost his costume. But, then, he did say in "The Menace of Mysterio", to which this story is clearly subsequent, that he did not need the disguise, i.e. his costume, very much longer. There is an admirable effort at trans-episodic continuity. During his televised challenge to the web-swinger, Mysterio demolishes a miniature of the Brooklyn Bridge, the place where he first met Spidey in combat, and Mysterio's centre of operations in this episode is the place where the decisive battle in the initial conflict was fought: a movie/television studio, by this time abandoned by the entertainment industry for whom Mysterio once worked. The surprise reveal at the story's climax that all is not what it seems to be, is ably achieved and thoroughly explained.
"Revolt in the Fifth Dimension" is the highlight of the third season. Its Rocket Robin Hood pedigree truly befits the psychedelic style of this stage of the Bakshi Spiderman, stretching psychedelia to the utmost degree. And unlike "Phantom From the Depths of Time", the story, though originating in outer space, is coherently and almost seamlessly adaptable to Spiderman as is. One-third of the footage transpires without the lead character, i.e. all of the scenes involving the effort of a doomed alien civilisation to preserve its accumulated knowledge from the destructive wrath of the fearsome villain, Infinata, who is himself introduced most effectively. All of this footage was reused without any required tinkering to character animation or settings. The wide-ranging threat posed by Infinata to whole galaxies, including Earth, is quite palpable, and there was therefore no need to bring "down to Earth" the Rocket Robin Hood footage by situating events on an Earth island. Even the dialogue tracks of this part of the story were recycled virtually unchanged. And another third of the episode happens in surroundings so surreal, so removed from natural physical space, that Spidey could be placed in them with no doubt on the part of the audience that their hero is always where he is said to be. The same cannot be said for "Phantom From the Depths of Time". In "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension", the lead character is in a rather intangible location. A dimension where the most abstract, the most unlikely of backgrounds, of image juxtaposition and spatial composition, is quite possible, and the dimensional barrier between New York City and Dementia Five is almost instantaneously crossed not by rocket power or by any future mode of transport but by Infinata's super-weird mental prowess. All that needed to be done was to position animation of Spidey against those backgrounds in the place of Rocket Robin and Little John. Without knowing of the existence of its counterpart in the Rocket Robin Hood universe, one would never suspect that "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension" and the bulk of its animation and vocal tracks were not made especially for Spiderman. And what a Spiderman episode! Spiderman of the twentieth century, all alone in the scary environs of Dementia Five, in dire confrontation with Infinata, the fate of Earth's galaxy and of countless others riding on the outcome. The episode's climax is certainly as unnervingly riveting as that in the Rocket Robin Hood version of the story, if not more so!
"Revolt in the Fifth Dimension" successfully engineered a science fiction Spidey episode from a story and majority of visuals co-opted from another television production. It was followed by "Specialists and Slaves", which was another of the more inventive "cheater" stories, one whose distinction in Spiderman production was in the incorporating of footage from two completely unrelated earlier episodes into a storyline not only intelligible, not only in its own right quite fascinating in concept, but arguably superior to the episode to which it was a sequel and from which most of its animation and layout originates. With a number of stated references, all of them accurate, to his first Manhattan nuclear power plant seizure and initial encounter with Spiderman, the radiation specialist, a few years in jail having not "softened" him, commandeers the Manhattan nuclear reactor yet again, raises the island into the sky one more time, and intends on this occasion to rule the population of the metropolitan isle. How? By way of a mind-dulling form of radiation dispersed over the entirety of Manhattan, rendering all but the "very strong or very criminal" minds susceptible to his suggestion and commands. He will be King, and Manhattan will be his kingdom. This will impede any attempt by Spidey to stop the specialist, a contingency for which the specialist is prepared, in that Spidey will have few, if any, willing allies in the raised island, and therefore his reaching the nuclear reactor to do battle with the specialist will be difficult enough in itself to accomplish- and the specialist's plan is still more cunningly detailed. He sends a decoy robot car, with a voice emanating from the car and calling for help, out of the city, anticipating correctly that Spiderman will follow the speeding car and thus be completely outside of Manhattan before the island is levitated and enslaved, and the sequence involving the robot car, the animation of the car spartan but effective, was newly produced.
What this storyline enabled Bakshi to do was to top the premise of "Swing City". Introducing the idea of the specialist gaining dominion over the levitated island, and most particularly over the bulk of its officials, through dispersal of a newly invented kind of radiation, enabled the including of an engaging secondary story thread, i.e. the capture of Spidey in the slave city by the specialist-obedient N.Y.P.D.. And then came Spidey's subsequent escape from jail with the help of the criminal minds who are immune to the servile effect of the radioactivity- and the help of Captain Stacy, one of those unaffected "strong minds" of whom the specialist earlier spoke. Bakshi hereby reused a substantial amount of cartoon animation from "To Cage a Spider", but with new dialogue and some different explanations for some of the events, such as the prison going dark not because Spidey has doused the lights to aid the escape of himself and his unlikely allies, but because the specialist is unhappy that he is not being kept informed of Spiderman's status and has given to the entire island a "taste of darkness" as a lesson in respect. The structure of the story is intricately woven to accommodate every expedient, i.e. cost-cutting, development. The specialist acknowledges that Spidey is approaching the levitated island on its underside, the same way, remarks the specialist, that the web-swinger had done so before. And for the "Swing City" footage of the shuddering underbelly of the island to be reused within the context of this story, the specialist starts an earthquake to try and shake Spidey off of the raised metropolis.
"Specialists and Slaves" is more eventful than its "Swing City" predecessor. It does not again utilise any of the Peter Parker material, e.g. him at school, the arranging of an evening with Sonya, and Spidey with Peter's voice on the telephone with Sonya. This footage unused from "Swing City" allowed time for the jailbreak sequence from "To Cage a Spider", and, besides, such "Swing City" footage would have been superfluous anyway in the context of "Specialists and Slaves". It is the conflict between Spiderman and the radiation specialist that spans the length of "Specialists and Slaves", even during the scenes in the jailhouse, as it is the effects of the specialist's diabolical scheme that Spidey is intent upon reversing, not for any personal score to settle because the specialist's deeds "crossed up (his) date", but because the skyward location of his city and the mental state of its people are Spidey's only concern. From the point in time that Spidey is told by the gloating specialist on the robot car radio what the specialist has done with Manhattan, the episode storyline is consumed with Spidey's ongoing effort to reach the reactor, stop the specialist, and restore normalcy. The subtext of the criminal and other strong-willed exceptions to the mind-dulling radiation is this episode's complex philosophical underpinning. Definitely, the notion that a criminal mind could be less easily influenced by the radioactive emissions gives a viewer pause for thought. Perhaps because criminals are the least conformist in society, as are the more individually minded of the upstanding citizens. They are least likely to "go with the flow", and that is perhaps why they are specifically mentioned to be immune from the radiation-induced servitude to the specialist. And how very apt that the specialist is by his own criminal, strong-willed nature immune to the radiation and hence able to wield his power of persuasion! It would have been still more fascinating had Jameson been in the episode, to see whether he would have been affected by the radiation, or whether he would have been one of those "strong" or "criminal" minds.
Unfortunately, though, the "cheater" nature of "Specialists and Slaves" meant that, as is frequently the case for such episodes, visual errors abound, i.e. in the assembling of the animation from the various sources. The robot car part of the episode is impeccable. Cheap, but impeccable. The scenes of the specialist outside and inside the nuclear power station at the outset of the story are all serviceable, though a few wide camera perspectives of him in his chair reveal laying on the floor beside him the disguise that he had worn in "Swing City" to gain entry to the nuclear power station, and it is out of place in this episode because the specialist came to the door of said station in his regular attire and stunned the guards with his ray gun. Still, it can be explained that he brought the disguise with him in case he might need it. It is where Spidey endeavours passage into the raised Manhattan that gaping, less explainable mistakes start to appear. Several of the scenes of Spiderman swinging on his webs beneath the pipes and rocks of the island are not from "Swing City" but from "Up From Nowhere". That is why the sky looks brown and murky. The background was painted that way in "Up From Nowhere" to look like an area nearest sea bottom. Still, only the most perceptive eye will notice that the sky is so peculiarly coloured beneath the raised island in "Specialists and Slaves". Same cannot be said, though, for the scene of Spidey in the drainpipe. Spidey is meant to be climbing up the pipe, and that is the direction the camera is panning. However, the animation of Spidey is of him going downward. Bizarre. And then, after he has found his way to the streets and has begun web-swinging, there are camera pans across the area of the Brooklyn Bridge, showing both sides of the Hudson River, and visuals of the New York City Harbour, ships moored and clearly shown in the water. Surely if only Manhattan island has ascended to the sky, there should be no full span of the Brooklyn Bridge or view of the non-Manhattan side of it, and no water in which for ships to rest. What would happen to the river water on the skyward-elevated section of the city? Unless it could be contained somehow, it would spill downward onto whatever lies below the metropolis. Besides, only Manhattan island was earlier shown and said to be levitated. Not other parts of New York City and not part of the river. Next, Captain Stacy is of two distinctly different appearances in close-up camera framing. And during a scene of the specialist at his console, the footage is not that of the specialist but of Dr. Atlantian in "Up From Nowhere". Further, there is one cartoon animation sequence wherein Spidey comes to a rest on a rock and disappears. And the earthquake intended by the specialist to plunge Spidey to the streets to be captured, is rather violent judging from the damage to the buildings near to the web-swinger. "Ever so gently," said the specialist of the earthquake, would seem to be rather an underestimate.
"Down to Earth" is one of, if not the least successful and laziest of the "cheater" episodes, and quite possibly the nadir of the entire 1967-70 Spiderman television series. It is "Neptune's Nose Cone" redux, and unlike other "cheaters" that could surpass the originals in atmosphere, visuals, story structure and development, and degree of danger, "Down to Earth" is less successful and less interesting than its predecessor, its grey-white colours replacing the mix of greens, browns, and whites of the exotically juxtaposed subtropical vegetation and cold weather on the island in the Southern Ocean and its largely identical premise containing some rather daftly conceived embellishments.
A lost, uncharted island in the less strategic, not thoroughly explored Antarctic region is within the realm of possibility, but there being never previously charted terra firma at or close to the North Pole is quite taxing indeed to the credulity of even the most accommodating viewer. A nose cone thrown into an active and erupting volcano on an Antarctic island could certainly result in a nasty, explosive calamity for anyone who happened to be on that island; however, the idea that plugging a geyser with a meteor would create a geothermal explosion powerful enough to melt the entire North Polar ice sheet and flood the world, is problematic even within the boldly expressive style of Bakshi's Spiderman. To say nothing of the prospect that in the latter half of the twentieth century there is a sizable landmass at or close to the North Pole, mountainous and able to sustain an indigenous people. If it were northern Greenland or an archipelago close to that, the location at least would be right, but it is specifically said to be the Pole time and time again. The North Pole is a known place on contemporary Earth, not in an unexplored underworld, not in a different epoch, and not on some other dimensional plane. Some recognition of established reality on present-day Earth is advisable. There is no land mass at or close the North Pole, and no geysers there powerful enough if blocked to flood the world. Not in present-day time. Hyperbole like this coming from Spidey whose alter-ego has scientific education can only undermine the credibility of the lead character. But even if it could be accepted for dramatic or artistic necessity, there would be scarce benefit in it, because "Down to Earth" offers little that "Neptune's Nose Cone" does not have, and is less efficient and less satisfying in every way at presenting the same kind of story. Yes, there is the little, green men angle, which is what prompted Jameson to send Peter and Osa Olsen (who looks exactly like Penny Jones of "Neptune's Nose Cone") on their polar excursion. The prospect of Rabbit Ear Meteor being the mode of travel of extraterrestrial beings is a McGuffin that conveniently reveals itself solely to resolve the episode's climax when Spidey and Osa are unable to achieve a resolution themselves. The meteor becomes a spaceship that launches out of the geyser and flies away. Granted, in "Neptune's Nose Cone", much the same thing happens, the fallen object from space launching out of the chasm in which it had been dropped, and at a critical time in the story. But the nature of the nose cone is known throughout that episode. It is not presented as a mystery that just happens to dispel itself at a crucial moment in the story, for no other purpose than for the writers to put an end to the crisis.
Each of the perils faced by Spidey in his bid to avert catastrophe is identical to the ones in "Neptune's Nose Cone", and in the same order. Flying snake, tentacled plant, natives surrounding Spidey at the base of a large doorway with a snake-shaped passageway to a cavern, and two horrific creatures in the cavern. At least "Rollarama" omitted one of the beasts (the slug in the jungle) that menaced Spidey in "Vine" and totally changed the character (an apish Vegeton instead of Prof. Smithers) informing Spidey of the situation in the strange land. Even the commercial intervals in "Down to Earth" are in exactly the same place as in "Neptune's Nose Cone". A casual viewer would be forgiven for thinking that "Neptune's Nose Cone" and "Down to Earth" are one and the same. The only new cartoon animation, of Osa helping Spidey in the effort to stop the meteor's plunge down the volcano, or geyser as the writers wish to call it (it looks like a volcano, anyway), is of such poor quality it scarcely merits mention. Osa spends most of her time at the Pole standing on the icy ground waiting for Spidey to emerge from the cavern or from wherever else he had been "sidetracked". Immediate personal stakes for Spidey do not seem to be quite as high here as they were in "Neptune's Nose Cone" in which Penny was clearly in mortal danger atop the nose cone, blindfolded and intended to be dropped with the nose cone into the volcano.
The object to be thrown into the chasm at a critical time in the episode is shown twice consecutive in fairly close, unobscured perspectives to be the Neptune nose cone- with Penny Jones blindfolded on top of it, and not Rabbit Ear Meteor. Unforgivably sloppy for there to be a pair of missing picture modifications near the crucial moment in the episode. Mistakes blatant to first-time viewers. And the incorrect visuals stay on screen for several seconds before the intended footage of the meteor reappears. Finally, unlike "Neptune's Nose Cone", in the denouement, Peter and his friend are airborne in their previously crashed aircraft, with no explanation of how it became flyable again. A lazy ending to a lazily assembled entry to this Spidey cartoon television series.
Bakshi and his colleagues utilised every possible manner of "cheater" episode during the course of Season 3. They used the two-story instalment with material derived from stories of Season 1. They recycled cartoon animation from a Season 2 episode to engineer a somewhat different storyline by altering the appearance and origin of the villain and likewise the exterior of the villain's place of operation. They more or less repeated the storylines of two single Season 2 entries in a pair of "cheaters", combined a couple of unrelated Season 2 episodes into an intricately told story with a returning villain, and successfully plundered Rocket Robin Hood's most far-fetched episode. All that remained was that old chestnut. The flashback episode. Have Spidey reminisce about past experiences, and use footage from previous episodes to show what he is remembering. And so was conceived "Trip to Tomorrow".
"Trip to Tomorrow" has a few things to recommend it. A quite impressive rendering of a rail yard and a freight train boxcar interior. Rapport between Spidey and the young male runaway to whom Spidey is recalling three dangerous and frightening battles against evil-doers in order to convince the boy to abandon a plan to become the Caped Protector of Podunk and return to home. And Spidey's concern for the safety of the boy and yet his wish for the youngster to choose the correct course of action without coercion or such obvious prodding as a lecture on the importance of family, are appealing indications together of Spidey's humanity and his continuing empathy with the sensibilities of the young. But apart from these aspects to "Trip to Tomorrow", there is not much to it. Just three prolonged flashbacks, and unless the viewer is in the mood to revisit sizable parts of prior episodes- with different music in only two of them, they are eminently skippable. Unlike Rocket Robin Hood's own flashback episode, "Planet of Dreams", in which Robin and his friends must exchange stories of past experiences to keep from falling permanently asleep, there is no sense of immediacy or urgency or peril here to Spidey's predicament. He could conceivably, if need be, sit in that boxcar talking to the boy for an entire journey to Podunk, and then once there deliver the boy to the authorities for return to his family in New York City. Further, the footage from "Return of the Flying Dutchman" is faded and grainy, and the scenes from "The Evil Sorcerer" are presented out of sequence. Apart from this, there are no outrageously gaping errors to any of the cartoon animation, and the newly produced scenes before and after Spidey's arrival in the boxcar are quite competent. Still, following the disappointment that was "Down to Earth", "Trip to Tomorrow" was not much of an interesting improvement and was, to use a post-modern cliche, a damp squib by which to close the first animated cartoon television series for Spiderman.
Book-ended by some especially weak episodes, Season 3 began with a string of first-season-style double-story episodes with psychedelic phenomena along the lines of some of what was in Season 2, presented mostly within the setting of a present-day New York City. And then with the onset of a run of "cheater" stories was there a return to full-length episodes with concepts and locations as, if not more, wild as/than those in Season 2.
"The Winged Thing"/"Conner's Reptiles" Two cheater stories reusing animation from Season 1. Spidey discovers the bird-man Vulture robbing a millionaire's penthouse safe and unsuccessfully tries to stop the flying fiend. Spidey is also unable to defeat the Vulture in confrontations at a building construction site and at a military base. The Vulture steals an animal-behaviour-controlling device and brings terror to the skies above Manhattan by activating the device to compel all flying creatures to do his bidding. Spidey dupes the Vulture into flying into his own bird army, centralising the device's controlling impulses and causing the winged things to attack its confused and panic-stricken wearer... Spidey swings to Florida again to battle a walking, thinking lizard. This time, the lizard is not a transformed Dr. Conner, but a reptile whose intelligence has been augmented in an experiment by Conner gone awry, and who has kidnapped Conner and holds the ill-fated scientist as captive at a Spanish fort. Spidey compounds a serum to reverse the lizard's mutation, confronts the bipedal, thinking lizard at the Spanish fort, webs the creature, and forces it to drink the serum, which causes it to vanish! Spidey rescues Conner and reunites him with his family. "Trouble With Snow"/"Spiderman Vs. Desperado" New York City children build a snowman with snow contaminated by trace chemicals from an industrial plant up the Hudson River, and a freak accident involving a broken electrical line hitting the snowman somehow brings the snowman to life. With every snowfall, the snowman grows, needing recharges of electricity to sustain itself and menacing the New York City populace. Spidey deduces from an electrically charged punch by the snowman that the "big bozo" is charged with electricity, and wires a maze of cables leading into a watered sewer. He lures the snowy behemoth into the cables, which drain the snowman's power, and it collapses into a formless heap of snow... Desperado, a cowboy criminal, lassos Spidey and begins a crime wave atop his electronic horse. Spidey arranges to ambush the sidewindin' criminal with a phony exhibit of Western paraphernalia at the Midtown Museum. Resisting the cowboy's hypnotic pistols, Spidey webs Desperado and gives the villain to the police to apprehend. "Sky Harbour"/"The Big Brainwasher" A German Baron utilises a flying aircraft carrier to launch an attack on New York City with World War One-style fighter aeroplanes. Spidey confounds the Baron by webbing himself to the Baron's aeroplane and manipulating the aeroplane to crash into the airborne hangar. Baron, aeroplane, and hangar descend into the Hudson River... The Kingpin's latest scheme to control New York City involves a machine that brainwashes the urban officials into doing as he commands. Peter's girl- friend, Mary Jane, invites Peter to watch her dance on opening night at the Gloom Room A-Go-Go, a night club secretly owned by the Kingpin, and Peter notices that Mary Jane's camera, given to her by one of the Kingpin's thugs to snapshoot her high-echelon audience, is causing city officials in attendance at the night club to become groggy and to go to the night club's back room, where the brainwashing machine is. Spidey investigates this tendency and is captured by the Kingpin and shackled inside of a water chamber as the Kingpin holds Mary Jane and Mary Jane's uncle, Captain Stacy, hostage. Spidey breaks his shackles and withstands submersion in the water by webbing himself into an air-bubble. He then surprises the Kingpin's stooges and throws one of them at the Kingpin, rendering the enormous mobster unconscious, then frees Mary Jane and Captain Stacy. The Kingpin's machine is permanently put out of commission. "The Vanishing Doctor Vespasian"/"Scourge of the Scarf" Dr. Vespasian, a green-skinned, wrinkled scientist, concocts a drinkable invisibility formula and uses it on himself and his dog, Brutus. Together, they commit bank robberies, but Spiderman foils the vanishing, thieving genius by installing ice cream in a bank vault's sprinkler system and dropping the ice cream on top of the nefarious doctor. The police apprehend Vespasian by placing the ice-cream-drenched evil chemist on a huge sundae dish and loading him into an ice cream truck... From his vantage point atop a building, Spidey watches as crowds form long lines to attend Saturday night Broadway performances. To the panic of the mass of people, the Moon becomes a psychedelic pinwheel that fills the night sky and dizzies and renders everyone- including Spidey- unconscious. Led by an artistic genius called the Scarf, a band of looters emerge from a manhole and "fleece" the box offices of all of the theatres before the pinwheel disappears and every unconscious person revives. The Scarf's mechanically-projected pinwheeled Moon ploy having been a thieving success, he next targets a dowager's rare emerald and invites the dowager and other high-class New Yorkers to his psychedelic art show, where he laughing-gasses everybody so that his men, in gas masks, can steal the emerald and the attendees' other valuables. But Peter, suspecting a connection between the pinwheel phenomenon and the art show, has obtained a ticket to attend the show and resists the laughing gas. As Spidey, he chases the gas-masked Scarf out of the art show building, straight into a police dragnet summoned earlier by Spidey to surround the show. The police arrest the Scarf's gang of bandits. "Super Swami"/"The Birth of Microman" Super Swami, an obese, Oriental illusionist, seems to make the Brooklyn Bridge disappear piece by piece, with the cars thereon suspended in mid-air! He next appears to disintegrate the Hudson River, then seems to start a July snowfall! All of this, he says, is a demonstration of his power. He demands total obedience from the citizens of New York City, and when Spiderman web-swings into the sky to investigate the seeming snowfall, the Swami apparently traps Spidey inside of a crystal ball. Spidey breaks out of the truly rubbery ball and refuses to accept as real any of the Swami's other mechanically generated illusions. He kicks the Swami's face, sending the fat Oriental reeling down a large sewer pipe, and the police incarcerate the Swami and confiscate all of the Swami's illusion-causing equipment... Prof. Pretories, the most diabolical mind ever known to science, escapes jail, and Peter unknowingly helps the convict by car-driving him, a hitchhiker, to his secret-laboratory hideout. Peter then hears a news report on his car radio about Pretories and, as Spiderman, acts to reverse his mistake. Spidey discovers that Pretories has devised a means of shrinking himself to construct a miniature atomic detonator, the Kingdom Come Machine. Also reduced in size, Spidey confronts the tiny, menacing scientist and produces a deluge of water from a faucet to neutralise the atomic detonator and stymie Pretories so that the police can recapture him once Spidey and the criminal have returned to full size. "Knights Must Fall"/"The Devious Dr. Dumpty" Spidey jousts with a motorcycle-riding knight in armour who is robbing theatre box offices, armoured trucks, and museum officials receiving a medieval artifact. While battling the knight on a ship that has arrived in New York Harbour to deliver the artifact to the museum officials, Spidey webs a barrier that stalls the "canned ham's" speeding motorcycle, throwing the knight off of the ship and into the water of New York Harbour. Spidey then traps the "canned flounder" in a web-net for the police... Dr. Dumpty, a corpulent jewel thief, attacks a parade with knock-out gas released from balloons, and he and his thugs, wearing gas masks, steal the jewels of actress Rachele Wells and abscond in a hot air balloon. Spiderman webs himself to the getaway balloon's carriage, but Dumpty orders his men to drop ballast sand bags on the super-hero, and Spidey loses his grip on his web and falls onto a parade balloon likeness of himself! Dumpty's next planned heist, of pure gold on display at a masquerade ball, is anticipated by Spidey, who comes to the ball in his own costume and has brought a gas mask. When Dumpty's men make their move and discharge laughing gas from balloons, Spidey preempts Dumpty's grab for the gold and spins a special slippery webbing to trip Dumpty's fleeing men so that police can arrest them. Spidey wields a ball attendee's sword to burst the balloon hat which Dumpty uses to descend from the building's balcony. The police are waiting for Dumpty on the street below and apprehend the corpulent crook. "Up From Nowhere" The weird Dr. Atlantian rises out of the ocean near New York City in his hive-like machine, which derives its power from Lunar motion. Atlantian represents the lost continent of Atlantis, which has developed an advanced technology in its centuries of undersea existence and now intends to conquer the surface world. With a ray emitted from his machine, Atlantian encases Manhattan in a bubble and sinks the island into the ocean. He next triggers a series of earthquakes to terrify Manhattan's people. Spidey swims through a gap in the bubble below the sunken city and advances on Atlantian's machine, and Atlantian grants to Spiderman access therein for the purpose of destroying him. Spidey ducks when Atlantian fires a laser beam, and the energy blast hits Atlantian's equipment, weakening it and allowing Manhattan to re-ascend to surface level. Spidey webs Atlantian for capture by the New York City police. This episode is essentially a remake of Season 2's "Swing City", with much of its animation reused. Atlantian is really a variation on the radiation specialist from "Swing City"; the difference is the addition of pointed ears, head fin, and fish-scales. And the interior of Atlantian's machine looks exactly like that of the nuclear power plant in "Swing City". "Rollarama" A remake of Season 2's "Vine", virtually identical in plot; the only difference is that instead of a giant plant threatening metropolitan New York, the menace is a series of enormous, rolling pods that grow from boxes in a missing scientist's house. The scientist has used a time portal located in his house to journey into another dimension, and the rolling pods have come from that dimension, the Land of Crystal Creation. Spidey goes through the portal to find a means of stopping the rolling pods before one of them descends onto a missile base outside of New York City and triggers an atomic explosion. The missing scientist in this episode is Dr. Von Glutz, whose house is a replica of that of Prof. Smithers in "Vine". Von Glutz is dead by the time that Spiderman arrives in the dimension to which Von Glutz had transported himself. So, Spidey is advised by a tribe of blue-haired ape creatures, who resemble Molemen, to raid a nearby city and obtain the necessary energy units to obliterate the rolling pods wreaking havoc in New York. And the city that Spidey must raid is populated by animal-hating plants that look like those in "Vine". These plants thrive on cold, and the city is refrigerated with power from a weird generator, with the energy units that Spidey seeks situated in the "eyes" of the machine. The plants need the energy units to keep their city cold, and they stop Spidey from reaching the generator by breaking Spidey's swing web. Spidey falls and is captured and put in an arena to battle a giant slug named Goliath for the plants' amusement. Spidey subdues Goliath with webbing and, with all of the plants in the arena, easily removes the energy units from the generator. The plants die, and the blue-haired ape creatures can reclaim the city that was once their own. Spidey returns to New York and drops the energy units into a cannon that fires them at one of the rolling pods, annihilating it before it can descend onto the missile base. "Rhino"/"The Madness of Mysterio" In a cheater story comprised of footage from both Rhino-inclusive episodes from Season 1, the Rhino again steals gold shipments with which to build a 14 karat statue of himself. Spidey's spider-sense enables him to locate the Rhino's hideout building, and after a battle that demolishes the place, Spidey forces the Rhino to flee into the New York City sewers with his golden self-image, and Spidey webs the running Rhino for police to jail... Spiderman tussles once more with master-of-illusion Mysterio. This time, Mysterio causes Spidey to think that he has shrunk the web-swinger and placed him in a miniature amusement park. Spidey struggles against a maze of mirrors coated with poison and, holding a webbing shield, crashes through the mirrors with no ill effects. Spiderman fights and defeats a mechanical dragon and confronts the seemingly giant Mysterio in the park's skyline, but when Spidey's punch does not strike the huge image of Mysterio, he deduces that the park is full-scale and that Mysterio's giant appearance is an illusion. Mysterio hypnotised Spidey with a machine in front of the miniature park, then brought Spidey to the full-scale model and employed an illusion-projecting device to convey the impression that Spidey has been shrunk and that the enormous image of Mysterio towering over the park is Mysterio at normal size. Spidey finds the real Mysterio at the park's highest point, in the control room for the parachute jump, and overcomes the criminal with one, powerful punch, then webs him for police capture. "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension" Another episode composed largely of animation from a Rocket Robin Hood story. A dying scientist from the destroyed planet Goth in the deceased galaxy of Kamosah must land his crippled spaceship on Earth and, before expiring, entrusts Spiderman with a tiny but encyclopedic library of information, including the secrets of a dimension of living thought, whose one- eyed, skeletal ruler, Infinata, wants this information destroyed. So, Spidey is brought into the realm of Infinata, Dementia Five, where Infinata commits all of the horrific, thought-projected minions at his disposal to try to force Spidey to reveal where on his own person he has secreted the Library of Goth. Spidey bluffs Infinata into believing that he has lost the Library, and as Infinata is sentencing Spidey to death by submersion in a quicksand-like rug, Spidey closes his eyes and finds himself back in New York City. Realising that Dementia Five is all illusion, existing only in the minds of believers, Spidey closes his eyes and mind to Infinata and is freed from Dementia Five. Back in New York, he produces the Library of Goth from his web cartridge and delivers it to the proper authorities. "Specialists and Slaves" An old enemy of Spidey's, a radiation specialist who once lifted Manhattan into the sky, has been released from jail and promptly revisits Manhattan's nuclear power plant, stuns the outdoor guards with his ray gun, and again commandeers the reactor. The radiation specialist, still as megalomaniacal as ever, uses a form of radiation to dull the minds of Manhattan's people, converting them into robots so that they obey every command that he gives to them. He lifts Manhattan skyward again and this time insures beforehand that Spidey is off of the island by luring him out of New York City with a robot car and a recorded message of someone pleading for help from a bogus kidnapping. The robot car goes off a cliff, and through the radio of the wrecked vehicle, the specialist tells Spidey about everyone in the elevated city now being his slaves and that Spidey will be attacked by the people if he tries to enter the city in the sky. Undaunted, Spidey spins his webs onto Manhattan's underside, swings up to it, crawls through a sewer tunnel, and gains entry to the specialist's "kingdom". But the specialist causes the island to tremor to send Spidey falling into the streets, where the web-swinger is captured by police, all of whose people are the specialist's stooges, save for Captain Stacy, whose strong mind has immunised him from the enslaving radiation. Also immune are criminally-minded convicts, with whom Spidey teams to escape police custody, with Stacy as a hostage (in footage from "To Cage a Spider"). Spidey then frees Stacy from the convicts, whom Spidey webs one-by-one. Spidey web-swings to the nuclear power plant for a confrontation with the specialist, with the same result as in "Swing City". The specialist is unable to subdue Spidey, and his misfired ray gun cripples the controls to the levitating ray. Spidey attains control of the reactor in time to slowly deactivate it so that Manhattan gently settles into its surface position. Spidey webs the specialist and negates the slavery-inducing radiation. "Down to Earth" A remake of Season 2's "Neptune's Nose Cone". Jameson orders Peter to fly in an aeroplane with Daily Bugle pilot Osa Olsen to the North Pole to locate a fallen meteor with bizarre antennae, but a thunder-snowstorm cripples Parker and Olsen's aeroplane, and it crashes in a wasteland populated by a tribe of savages, who have appropriated the meteor and are planning to drop it into a volcano as an offering to their fire god in return for warmth. Peter, reviving after the aeroplane crash to discover Olsen gone, changes into Spiderman to search for Olsen and encounters the savages and overhears their plan. Deducing that the meteor will plug the volcano and cause an eruption that could melt the polar ice cap, Spidey endeavours to stop the primitives. After an extended time period inside of a weird cavern populated by horrific creatures and adorned with huge idols, Spidey finds Olsen, and together they act to abort the dropping of the meteor into the volcano. The meteor is really a disguised spaceship that launches out of the mouth of the volcano while Spidey and Olsen are trying to pull it out of the circular ground fissure with web-lines, sheds its meteoric rock cover, and ascends into space. Somehow, Peter and Olsen are able to repair their aeroplane and leave the icy wasteland for home. "Trip to Tomorrow" A bolt of lightning breaks Spidey's web, causing him to fall into a boxcar at a rail yard. In the boxcar, Spidey meets a young runaway who plans to ride a freight train out of New York City and become "the Caped Protector of Podunk". To dissuade the youngster from this fanciful but impracticable plan, Spidey tells the youth about the extreme dangers of being a super-hero by recalling some of his most desperate battles, with extensive flashbacks- and reused footage- from "Thunder Rumble", "Return of the Flying Dutchman", and "The Evil Sorcerer". The runaway is so unnerved by Spidey's recounting of these experiences that he flees the train as the train is about to move out of the rail yard- and runs home to mother.Because its voice characterisation team had been situated in Canada, this Spiderman television series has qualified as Canadian content and thus enjoyed almost constant broadcast in Canadian television markets. Through the early to mid-1970s, it was run, with its episodes in production order, on affiliates of Canada's CTV television network on weekdays or on Saturday mornings. Maritime Canada's CTV stations ran it on Saturday mornings together with Krantz Films' other properties, Rocket Robin Hood, Max the 2000-Year-Old Mouse, and Professor Kitzel, in addition to the original The Littlest Hobo (1963-5), on a morning-long television programme called Funtime, hosted by two wisecracking hand-puppets.
By late 1976, Spiderman episodes started being distributed in no particular order. Some episodes were seldom shown for awhile as others were run excessively. In the late 1970s, Spidey's adventures became less readily available on television stations in Canada, but in 1981, distribution of Spiderman resumed with intensity, as it was broadcast as an after-school attraction on many Canadian television stations, again with the episodes transmitted in no particular order. Indicative of such fractured Spiderman series presentation was the complete absence of "Diet of Destruction"/"The Witching Hour" and "To Cage a Spider" on television station CHSJ in New Brunswick, Canada in the 1981-2 broadcast season while in said season "Spiderman Meets Skyboy", "Horn of the Rhino", and "The Night of the Villains"/"Here Comes Trubble" aired on CHSJ as many as eight times.
Likewise sporadic were Spiderman releases on pre-recorded videotape and on videodisc. Episodes of Spiderman's second season became available in 1982 through MCA Home Video. A SPIDERMAN videotape consisting of the first five episodes of Season 2 was sold for an at-that-time typically high price. It was followed in 1983 by THE BEST OF MARVEL COMICS, a single-videotape compilation of episodes of The Fantastic Four (1978) and Spider-Woman (1979), these Marvel Comics super-heroes also having attained U.S. network animated cartoon television shows, plus one episode of Spiderman ("Diamond Dust"). A British videotape release of Spiderman episodes in autumn of 1982 contained "The Power of Doctor Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey", "Where Crawls the Lizard"/"Electro the Human Lightning Bolt", and "The Menace of Mysterio".
RCA's CED Selectavision VideoDiscs are remembered by videophiles for skips galore and audio problems of various kinds. On a SPIDERMAN CED VideoDisc in 1983 as sold by RCA and represented in picture immediately below this paragraph were "The Origin of Spiderman", "Where Crawls the Lizard"/"Electro the Human Lightning Bolt", "The Sky is Falling"/"Captured By J. Jonah Jameson", "Horn of the Rhino", and "The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus"/"Magic Malice".
In 1985, Prism Video began releasing THE MARVEL COMICS VIDEO LIBRARY, an ambitious collection of videotapes containing the previously televised adventures of such Marvel Comics heroes as Spidey, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, the Mighty Thor, the Thing, the Sub-Mariner, and Iron-Man, and the nefarious deeds of such villains as the Vulture, the Sandman, the Green Goblin, Dr. Doom, the Mole-Man (from The Fantastic Four), Magneto (also from The Fantastic Four), and the Red Skull. Several Spiderman episodes were included in this collection. The intention apparently was to continue releases until every episode of every available television series was on videotape, but the company cancelled the videotape series after two sets of volumes had been released featuring each hero and one set of volumes had been released featuring each of the aforementioned villains. Among the Spiderman episodes on the Prism videotapes were "The Power of Doctor Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey", "Never Step On a Scorpion"/"Sands of Crime", "Diet of Destruction"/"The Witching Hour", "The One-Eyed Idol"/"Fifth Avenue Phantom", "Spiderman Meets Dr. Noah Boddy"/"The Fantastic Fakir", "Return of the Flying Dutchman"/"Farewell Performance", "The Golden Rhino"/"Blueprint For Crime", "The Spider and the Fly"/"The Slippery Doctor Von Schlick", "The Vulture's Prey"/"The Dark Terrors", "The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus"/"Magic Malice", "Fountain of Terror"/"Fiddler On the Loose", "To Catch a Spider"/"Double Identity", "The Origin of Spiderman", "Criminals in the Clouds", "Spiderman Battles the Molemen", "Phantom From the Depths of Time", "Neptune's Nose Cone", "Spiderman Meets Skyboy", "To Cage a Spider", and "The Winged Thing"/"Conner's Reptiles".
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment in late 1998 began distribution of a videotape containing "The Origin of Spiderman" and "Kilowatt Kaper", plus an interview with Stan Lee. Although only of 45-minute length, this videotape was selling for $20 at comic book specialty stores.
Then, in 2002, Buena Vista Home Entertainment acquired the rights to home videotape and digital videodisc (DVD) for all television incarnations of the intrepid web-swinger. Prior to the theatrical premiere of the 2002 Spider-Man live-action feature film starring Tobey McGuire, Buena Vista released a SPIDER-MAN: ULTIMATE VILLAIN SHOWDOWN DVD containing episodes of Marvel Entertainment's 1995-8 Spider-Man television series. As glossy and dynamic as that new animated cartoon Spider-Man was, it lacked the "groovy" panache of the 1960s Spidey. However, it received priority for DVD due to wider recognition by younger audiences as a more current portrayal of the Spidey story. The 1967-70 Spiderman was represented on the DVD only by a single episode, "The Origin of Spiderman" yet again, as a special feature with a Stan Lee introduction. Later in 2002, Buena Vista continued the 1990s Spider-Man's DVD exposure with SPIDER-MAN- RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN, an offering of further 1995-8 Spider-Man episodes, for which "The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus"/"Magic Malice" was a bonus feature. And to coincide with the theatrical film debut of Daredevil, one of Marvel Comics' secondary tier of super-heroes, Buena Vista issued in 2003, DAREDEVIL VS. SPIDER-MAN, yet another 1995-8 Spider-Man vehicle for DVD, on which there was an added 1968 attraction, "King Pinned", included because the villain of said episode is a recurring foe of both characters.
Anticipating media attention to concentrate upon Spidey with the summer, 2004 blockbuster movie, Tobey Maguire's return as the web-spinner in Spider-Man 2, Buena Vista began a restoration process, in Australia of all places, for the 1960s Spiderman television series, honing the 52 episodes for digital video media. Could this, enthusiasts wondered, mean a DVD release in full for Spiderman (1967-70)? Indications of this were elusive, until the early months of 2004, when a reliable source, a DVD producer in the employ of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, informed this writer that all 52 episodes were planned by Buena Vista to be coming to DVD in a collector's edition box set later in the year. Indeed, the entirety of Grantray-Lawrence and Ralph Bakshi's Spidey was to go digital in 2004, and for all but a handful of the episodes, the picture and sound quality was astounding! Far superior to any previous presentation on any medium.
From "The Power of Doctor Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey" through to "Trip to Tomorrow", the 2004 DVDs followed the usual episode sequence aired on television, very closely adhering to order of production. The entirety of Seasons 1 and 2 looked fabulous, of a depth and variety of colours and clarity never before seen in Spiderman (1967-70)'s history on television and on pre-recorded videotape or RCA CED videodisc. Season 3 did not fare as superlatively, though, in that "The Winged Thing"/"Conner's Reptiles", "Sky Harbour"/"The Big Brainwasher", "The Vanishing Doctor Vespasian"/"Scourge of the Scarf", and "Up From Nowhere" were not remastered original-negative-film-to-digital-video transfers but telecined from rather worn, faded, and in some cases blurred reduction film prints. And "Up From Nowhere" was marred by what had been usual for it for decades, what looks like a magnified hair spanning across the picture through much of the second act. Strangely, the menus to the DVDs containing these outings for the web-swinger seemed to contain remastered scenes from those same Spidey stories. The balance of Season 3, though of a significantly better picture quality than that of the third season episodes above mentioned, still did not match the outstanding visual presentation of the totality of Seasons 1 and 2.
Transition from Grantray-Lawrence to Ralph Bakshi occurs within the third DVD in the box set, and the main menu to each of the DVDs was quite inventively rendered with split screen images of Spidey in action, bubble-squares revealing story selections, and Spidey pointing flash-camera directly at viewer, with the flash activating as the sequence of episodes was about to begin.
There was next to nothing in the way of special features in the box set of six DVDs; "Phantom From the Depths of Time" was the only episode to have its "next week's show" announcement included, and even that was not for the immediately following sequential episode on the DVD, "The Evil Sorcerer", but for "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension". A planned documentary on the production and importance of Spiderman (1967-70) did not receive the go-ahead from Buena Vista.
Alas, the Spiderman (1967-70) DVDs were to have only a three-year production and distribution life with Buena Vista, for, by 2007, the Spiderman (1967-70) DVD box set DVDs, in addition to the previous DVD releases of the 1995-8 Spider-Man television series (with instalments of Spiderman (1967-70) represented as bonus features), were discontinued and unavailable for sale except in places like Amazon.com "marketplace" vendors and the eBay Internet auction Website.
Spiderman was transmitted on YTV Canada between 1994 and 1998, concurrent with the 1995-8 Spider-Man. Then, in September, 2001, Teletoon, Canada's cable television animation channel, included Spiderman in its "Teletoon Retro" broadcast slot, omitting "The One-Eyed Idol"/"Fifth Avenue Phantom" probably because of the unflattering depiction of an aborigine in the first of the two adventures.
Bernard Cowan (Narrator and various voices)
Paul Kligman (voice of J. Jonah Jameson and others)
Tom Harvey (voice of several characters)
Music writer Bob Harris
Art director Gray Morrow
Producer Ray Patterson