Marvel’s Spider-Man is a relatively new show that began airing last year, and while people agree it’s not bad, no one has called it spectacular. Literally. The Spectacular Spider-Man, a show that aired March 8, 2008 (How do I know the exact date? Because it was my birthday!) is said by many to be the best Spider-Man show to date. This is a pretty universal opinion. I myself feel like it’s the 90’s series, but that’s neither here nor there. But yesterday marked Marvel’s Spider-Man’s first appearance of the classic Spidey foe Venom. And yes, I know that Venom showed up in the first season, but this is VENOM! I mean, Eddie Brock + Symbiote = Spider-hating powerhouse! And when I was watching this episode, a thought crossed my mind: This is just as good as the Venom debut episode in Spectacular Spider-Man. Blasphemy! Heresy! I know, I know, but first, before you lambaste me, hear me out. In this article, I’m going to match up these two episodes: Dead Man’s Party and Nature vs. Nurture. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll see what I do. I literally pulled out my old Spectacular Spider-Man DVDs and re-watched the episode just so that it was fresh in my mind, so I put in the work for this one! Here's what I found.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Peter turns in Spidey footage to Jameson that is far superior to Brock’s, and not only does Jameson put Eddie on blast, but he gives Peter his assignment on the V2-52 (The Symbiote in this show). Eddie gets steamed, even after Peter surrenders the assignment, and states that he always comes out on top. While on the assignment, Eddie sneaks into the lab, but the V2-52 gets loose, and bonds with him.
Spectacular Spider-Man: Having lost the Symbiote (Because Spider-Man was wearing it), the Conners family can no longer pay Eddie, so he’s let go. Eddie, who already doesn’t trust Peter, walks in on Spider-Man destroying the Symbiote, and blames him for taking his last chance. The Symbiote, still alive, then bonds with Brock, and he vows vengeance on Spider-Man.
First off, all of the setup in the Spectacular Spider-Man was in the previous episode. So walking in to the two episodes I’m comparing, you literally have no clue why Eddie hates Peter and Spider-Man. But that’s why so many people love Spectacular, because of the overarching story, which I won’t fault it for. While Spectacular took the Ultimate comics route of making Peter and Eddie childhood friends whose parents died together, Marvel’s Spider-Man ran with the tried and true Daily Bugle competitors. And honestly, you don’t need a whole season to tell that story. In several previous episodes, we’ve seen Jameson praise Peter’s work, resulting in an annoyed grunt from Eddie, but this episode is where they truly butt heads.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Peter and Miles want to throw a party while Aunt May is out of town. Peter is apprehensive, but Miles turns him around. They invite all of Horizon High, but Flash decides to throw a party the same night. So aside from Gwen, Anya, Aleski, and awkwardly Max Modell, not much is happening when suddenly the power goes out…
Spectacular Spider-Man: It’s Thanksgiving, and all of Midtown is prepping for the big parade. Meanwhile, Peter is preoccupied making sure Aunt May is okay, after the recent heart attack she’s suffered. Fresh out of the black suit, he quits working for Tombstone, and tries to get a jump on Thanksgiving dinner, but is not doing too well. He then finds the Gene Cleanser from the Lizard episode he kept, and ponders his actions as Spider-Man. Suddenly, he’s pulled out of the window by a web…
The plots of the episodes are not that far off from each other. One’s focused around a party, one’s focused around a holiday. Of course Spectacular holds more emotional weight because Aunt May is recovering from a heart attack, but again, just based on the two episodes and no previous context, they match up pretty equally.
Peter finds Eddie in his room. He talks about Peter's privilege, then attacks him.
Peter flees to protect his friends, Venom pursues.
Not able to find Peter, Venom threatens to return to the party, but is soon confronted by Spider-Man.
Spider-Man tries to convince the V2-52 to take him back, but it doesn't work.
Spidey and Venom fight, loud noises fail to stop Venom, but Miles shows up with flash bangs.
After a fight with Spider-Man and Miles, Venom escapes.
Venom beats and restrains Peter at his house, then threatens to go after everyone he loves.
Peter meets Venom at the hospital and fights to protect Aunt May. Venom gives up, claiming he knows who Peter loves most.
Spider-Man stakes out the parade, keeping an eye on Mary Jane because Brock had gone out with her to hurt Peter, but Gwen is the real target and gets strung up to a balloon.
Spidey and Venom fight, Spidey trying to save Gwen the entire time.
Eddie talks about Peter's privilege, and the Midtown students save Gwen.
Peter convinces the Symbiote to take him back, but it's a trick. He leaves Eddie unconscious on the roof and buries the Symbiote in cement.
Do you see! In both, Peter tried to get the Symbiote back. In both, Eddie talked about Peter having more than he did. In both, Venom attacks Peter at home and threatens his loved ones! And each had an added bonus the other didn't. We got more of a suspenseful thriller in Spectacular as Venom chased after Peter's loved ones (complete with jump scares). And in Marvel's Spider-Man we got an action packed team-up with Miles and Spidey vs. Venom! One thing I did find strange about Spectacular is that Spidey never tried sound, even though he knew that was the Symbiote's weakness. The biggest difference, however, is that in one Spider-Man defeated Venom, and in the other he escaped. Now, Venom was the season finale villain in Spectacular, and, I mean, who better, but by putting Venom in the middle of the season, Marvel's Spider-Man can continue the story, and who knows what kind of damage Venom can do!
Marvel's Spider-Man: Venom vows that he's just getting started, and reminds us that he know's Peter is Spider-Man.
Spectacular Spider-Man: Before she leaves Peter's house after a Thanksgiving dinner, Gwen kisses Peter, Venom's voice echoing "We know who you love the most."
Both of those are anticipatory wait and see moments. Wait and see how Peter will address Gwen kissing him, and wait and see what torment Venom has in store for Spidey. One, I unfortunately had to wait half a year for, because it was the season finale and Spectacular Spider-Man had to move to Disney XD. With the other, however, I get my answers next week! But I can honestly say that I'm just as excited on an adrenaline level for Marvel's Spider-Man as I was on an emotional level for Spectacular Spider-Man all those years ago.
So as you can see, these episodes are not so different. I enjoyed Dead Man's Party just as much as Nature vs. Nurture. Marvel's Spider-Man may not have the emotional heft or long term storytelling that Spectacular Spider-Man did. But it is a darn good show, and I think it has finally reached a point where it can be considered at least equal to its predecessor. I really hope that people will begin to see that. But don't take it from me! Go watch this episode if you already haven't and see for yourself! Then you let me know.