I have touched upon the extreme
loathing I have for the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon in some previous journals, but for those who may not have read it, the cartoon is a shallow, annoying train wreck that is helmed by a team of incredibly talented writers with a lot of credit to their names, but overlorded by Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Animation. It bears no resemblance to the excellent comic it gets its title from, the characters are all annoying, the "humor" is just mind-numbingly awful, the stories are dull and uncreative, and there is no character development, no story development, and only the barest sense of continuity.
The show is reviled by the majority of Spidey fans, and not only do fans hate it, but according to an anonymous source working on the show, the majority of the show's production staff hate it too. Even Paul Dini is not happy with it, and wanted it to have some maturity, which Jeph Loeb denied. Despite Loeb's insistence that the cartoon is doing great, its ratings have dropped steadily and most believe that the only reason people are watching it is because it airs right before the popular Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Speaking of Avengers: EMH, that show is getting canceled. Why, you may ask? Because Jeph Loeb apparently thinks that younger kids have no grasp of continuity or mature characters and storytelling. According to Loeb, he wants Marvel Animation to prepare younger kids to be Marvel fans. What does this mean? It means that the last bunch of episodes of EMH's season are going to do away with all traces of an overarching story and follow a style...more like Ultimate Spider-Man. Then Marvel Animation plans to start a whole new Avengers cartoon that will most likely take place in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon's universe.
On top of this, I have only just learned of Marvel's next upcoming animated series: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. The preview image shows Hulk, Red Hulk, Skaar the Son of Hulk, She-Hulk, and A-Bomb. According to the anonymous source, "the episode stories of the show are very simple, under-explained and many times don't make sense at all. Much like Ultimate Spider-man, HULK Agents of SMASH's characters backgrounds is never explored, but only touched upon (just like Ultimate spider-man's teammates). Hulk Agents of SMASH can be described as a mindless action show, with no character development and no intelligent stories." Let me just ask you this, you readers who are not die-hard comics fans: How many names that I listed above do you recognize? How in the world are we supposed to know or care about the Red Hulk or A-Bomb or Skaar when there are years
of story and character development behind them all that new viewers will know nothing about? And guess what? This is what Jeph Loeb wants for all
Marvel Cartoons. He wants them all to be as ridiculous and inane as Ultimate Spider-Man because he thinks kids are stupid. And he somehow thinks that these awful cartoons will encourage kids to want to read comics?
Let me explain something to you, Mr. Loeb, on the crazy off-chance you ever see this. Do you want to know why DC and Warner Bros have always had more success with their comic-based cartoons than Marvel? Because they do the opposite of what you are doing.
I grew up on Batman: The Animated Series, acclaimed as possibly the greatest cartoon show of all time. I watched it when I was about five years old. Yes, the more intelligent and mature writing went over my head, but you know what? It encouraged me to learn more.
I wanted to know what those words and concepts I didn't understand meant. And it inspired me to want to see and know more about Batman and his fascinating enemies. As I grew up, so did the maturity and depth of the DC Animated universe, with such shows as Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. All those series take place in the same massive continuity and created a rich world of imagination. And even though later DC shows like Legion of Superheroes and Young Justice don't take place in the DCAU, they adhered to that standard of developed characters and mature storytelling. They treat their viewers as intelligent people, Mr. Loeb.
And it is not just the DC cartoons, either. The 90s X-Men cartoon was just as immersing and enriching to me as a child as Batman. The 90s Spider-Man show, while not as good, still had an intricate continuity throughout its entire run, while each episode still told its own story. X-Men Evolution is praised for its focus on the characters and their continual growth and relationships. Wolverine and the X-Men, much like Spider-Man, told episodic stories that still advanced an overarching plot.
And finally, The Spectacular Spider-Man. This show was the best
adaptation of the web-slinger we will most likely ever see. And do you know why? Because it did everything you are not doing in Ultimate Spider-Man.
It started slow, easing us into the world and the characters, giving itself time to build instead of spending the entire first episode force-feeding exposition down our throats. It introduced several characters early, before they became important, so that their main introduction as heroes or villains had that much more meaning to the audience. It used Spider-Man's rich comic book history to draw inspiration instead of cramming in crossover heroes and villains in every single episode, like Ultimate Spider-Man does. Like other examples I listed above, it used story arcs to their fullest potential, instead of choosing to ignore continuity completely like you want to. The characters grew and changed with time, and we learned more about them as they grew and thus we cared about them more. It took its time to build drama and tension because it understood the concepts of buildup and payoff. The creators didn't try to throw in something huge like Venom into the fourth episode
because they knew what a terrible
idea that would be from a dramatic viewpoint. The Spectacular Spider-Man did everything right
that a comic adaptation can do, and I will never be able to praise it enough. What you want to do with Marvel Animation is everything you can do wrong
. The fact that your Facebook page had to be deleted because of fan hatedom for Ultimate Spider-Man should tell you something about that.
For more information regarding Marvel Animation's slippery slope of fail, read here: [link]