Spider-Man Adventures #1 (1994)
Fox Kids’ Spider-Man cartoon is a touchstone for many comic book fans. Though it did not ignore the network’s restrictive standards and practices as Batman: The Animated Series did, it still provided a fun and expansive adaptation of the comics, and included some truly impressive design work. Personally, many of the voices from the cartoon are still those I hear in my head while reading Spider-Man titles. While seemingly not as admired these days as its X-Men counterpart, Spider-Man was well-produced series that intrigued its target audience. As with many animated series, Marvel launched Spider-Man Adventures comic as a companion to the show and a title that wouldn’t confuse fans only familiar with the television cast.
Marvel utility player Nel Yomtov (seriously, check out his credits) writes an adaptation of the show’s premiere, which was itself written by Gerry Conway, Stan Berkowitz and John Semper. Conway stands as one of the few writers to have nearly as much impact on DC Comics as Marvel, and Berkowitz and Semper are both icons in animation. Not a bad place to start. Night of the Lizard‘s teleplay was, in turn, adapted from The Amazing Spider-Man #6, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, a logical move as the series sought to update many classic concepts into the cool, edgy world of the nineties. No, I’m not serious about the edgy, but the nineties sure thought they were. Remember all the dudes with long hair? Though going through multiple layers of derivation, the story still holds up quite well, and possesses a quality best exemplified in its art. Pencils are provided Alex Saviuk, who with his prolific run on The Web of Spider-Man, should be held as one of the greatest artists in the characters long history. The plot is simple for a Spider-Man story, Saviuk’s art fills in a lot of the blanks, creating something more akin to the images we all projected over the cartoons of our youth. This effect is important, and later adaptations of children’s shows all benefit from that extra investment the audience had in the series. All of the depth that seems to lack there is filled in, and the aforementioned impressive design work flourishes. He would continue with the book through its run and its later incarnation The Adventures of Spider-Man.
While Spider-Man Adventures was not the triumph that the GI Joe or The Transformers comics would be for the franchise, it is still a cool title and something exemplary of early nineties design. Oh, it also features an ad for that X-Men/Captain Universe comic that they’d put your name and stuff in. Actually, if anyone has one of those, let me know…