After a hiatus from animated television, Spider-Man is back on the small screen. Ultimate Spider-Man airs Sunday mornings on Disney XD and has many comic book creators such as Paul Dini, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Kelly and Steven Seagle involved with the show.
Over the years we have seen numerous animated incarnations of the web-slingers adventures. Some, like the recent Spectacular Spider-Man, have been fairly close to the comics. With the first two episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man, "Great Power" and "Great Responsibility," we're seeing a whole new game for Spider-Man. We'll give a quick run through of some of the differences and similarities. There will be spoilers below if you haven't already watched the episodes.== TEASER ==
The Daily Bugle
The newspaper does exist in this animated universe but there's more to it. Jameson now has the Daily Bugle Communications at his disposal to wage war against any costumed menaces running around.
Spider-Man's Career and Friends
We don't start out with the obligatory origin. Everyone should know by now that he was bitten by a radioactive spider and gained the proportional strength and ability of spiders.
In this version, he's been Spider-Man for a year. That means he's had his share of adventures. He's a little rough around the edges but has had a good amount of experience.
As for his friends, Mary Jane and Harry Osborn are his best friends. Peter is still in high school and unfortunately Flash Thompson is in the picture as well. You can imagine what that means for Peter.
Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.
What does Nick Fury have to do with Spider-Man?
As in the Ultimate Universe, Nick Fury knows Spider-Man's secret identity. He wants Spider-Man to become part of SHIELD. He knows he has potential but is still a 'newbie.' He may be able to stop criminals like the Trapster but left a bit of a mess. He points out that heroes like Captain America could have stopped the threat with no damage to public property. He also mentions that not all heroes were perfect right from the beginning. With some training, Spider-Man could be a better Spider-Man. He could become the Ultimate Spider-Man.
New Tech, Part 1: Web Shooters
Peter was brilliant in being able to design and build his web shooters. Fury offers him the opportunity to have high tech web shooters. This is the 'next gen' version. Spider-Man is reluctant to have anything to do with Fury's offer. The new shooters are "too big and too clunky" in his opinion. Of course he doesn't give them back right away (partly due to their camouflage ability).
You can't have a Spider-Man show without his enemies. That's where Norman Osborn comes in. He, as usual, has a deep interest in Spider-Man. His reason here is he wants to learn everything there is to know about him in order to create an army of Spider-Men for the highest bidder.
Osborn is working with a certain multi-armed foe of Spider-Man who is only seen in the shadows.
Other villains are sent after Spider-Man, including the rest of the Frightful Four (Spider-Man had already defeated Trapster). Wizard, Klaw and Thundra are on deck to take on Spider-Man. Peter has to figure out how they discovered that Spider-Man possibly goes to his high school (as in the original ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comic) and how he can get away to defeat them.
Mary Jane's Career Interest
What does Mary Jane want to do with her life after high school? Does she want to be a model or an actress? Nope. As in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, MJ has a taste for journalism. She wants to report the news. This has Peter a little concerned as he fears she will uncover his secret since they've known each other since they were five.
It doesn't look like Peter will be taking pictures of himself to sell to the Bugle. At least not yet. He's going to be busy with school, training with SHIELD and fighting the bad guys.
Aunt May Isn't Old and Frail
As in the Ultimate comics, this version of Aunt May has some spunk to her. She works during the day, she does yoga, takes cooking classes and bowls on a weekly basis. This gives Peter the chance to pretty much come and go as he wants and needs to as Spider-Man.
This show isn't only going to feature Spider-Man. If he takes Fury up on his offer to be trained by SHIELD, he'll be working with other teen heroes. Nova, White Tiger, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have all been trained by SHIELD but don't have the experience that Spider-Man does. This is where they can help each other.
Obviously there is a difference from the regular comics as these heroes are all teenagers now. It should also be noted that this Nova unfortunately is not Richard Rider. This is the Sam Alexander version that appeared in POINT ONE and will soon arrive on Earth during AVENGERS VS. X-MEN.
Curt Connors and SHIELD?
We all know Curt Connors becomes the Lizard. It turns out that he's SHIELD's resident tech genius. This is quite a departure as Curt was more about genetics rather than technology. What about his missing arm? You'll have to watch the episode to see about that and any possible connections to becoming the Lizard.
New Tech, Part 2: the Spider-Cycle?
Yes, Spider-Man might be getting a new set of wheels. Why would he need a ride when he could web-sling across the city? It's pointed out that webbing cost money and also the Spider-Cycle could actually get him there faster. Spider-Man just has to learn to drive and control it. He doesn't even have a learner's permit (he does in live in New York City after all).
As with all SHIELD vehicles, it's not your average mode of transportation. It has some heavy duty features that will really amp up Spider-Man's career. We'll just have to see if he decides to keep it. There's also the matter of where would he park it. I'd imagine parking in New York is as much of a problem as it is in San Francisco, if not worse. It does change Spider-Man a bit but that seems to be a possible part of the show. We'll have to stay tuned to see if he keeps it and what other gadgets he uses.
That about wraps up the first two episodes. What did you think of this incarnation of Spider-Man? Hopefully you had a chance to catch them. I'd imagine Disney XD will show the episodes again before next Sunday. Be sure to check your cable guide and set your DVR or alarm. You won't want to miss out on the other events from these episodes as well as what's coming up on the next one.