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This was a handful of animated shows that were part of ABC's Sunshine
Saturday Morning schedule during the late 1970's and early 1980's. The
short-lived animated series "Spider-Woman" was one of them and it was
basically the synopsis of "Spider-Man" but with only a few minor
alterations. Premiering on ABC-TV from September 22,1979 through the
end of the series run on March 1, 1980,the animated series
"Spider-Woman" came out during the time of action-packed Saturday
Morning fiasco of shows that premiered. The series,based on the Marvel
Comics Character was simply fantastic and spellbinding to begin with.
The story deals with yet another newspaper editor as well-Jessica Drew
who was the magazine editor and publisher for "Justice". As a
child,Jessica was bitten by a radioactive spider in her dad's Dr.
Alexander Drew's laboratory during a scientfic experiment,and when
cured by a serum from him,found herself possessing the abilities of an
arachnid-and then some. She shot webs,delivered "venom blasts" to some
of her evil foes,possessed supersensitive hearing and even flew. And
just like Spider-Man had the amazing abilities to come out of any tight
situation and with her amazing superpowers. Her photographer Jeff Hunt
and young nephew Billy had no inkling or any idea of her crime-fighting
alter ego,which she became by twirling into a red and yellow outfit.
This synopsis may sound like a distaff proportion of "Spider-Man",but on the other hand it prompted no lawsuits from Marvel Comics Group because the executive producer of the series was no other than Stan Lee himself,the creator of this character and Spider-Man. Spider-Woman appeared in the first issue of the Marvel Comics in 1977,and the producers waiting two years to finally bring this character into the light and into the foray of Saturday Morning television. Out of the 17 episodes that were produced,Spider-Woman also faced deadly diabolical foes including one incredible episode where Spider-Man makes a guest appearance as they take down a deadly archrival including rogue villains like Kingpin and The Green Goblin.
Increasingly enough,the voice of both Jessica Drew and Spider-Woman was done by actress Joan Van Ark(also of Knots Landing fame)whose voices was heard the previous season on an episode of "Tarzan and the Super 7"(which was on a rival network that ran in competition),which was a Filmation production to a similar production called "Webwoman" or "Tarzan And The Webwoman". However,"Spider-Woman" was on ABC-TV and it was produced for Marvel Comics Television in association with DePatie-Freleng Productions under the executive production of Stan Lee and Lee Gunther(the person responsible for bringing an array of animated shows to Saturday Mornings during the late 1970's like "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends","The New Adventures Of The Incredible Hulk" the revival of Captain America and Iron Man back to animation form,to mega star status during the 1980's too with the syndicated "G.I. Joe" and "The Transformers").
This was also to note that "Spider-Woman" was the last series to be produced by DePatie-Freleng Productions(aka DFE Enterprises)under the supervision of executive producers David H. DePatie and long time animator and business associate Friz Freleng. This was a successful partnership which lasted more than 17 years specializing in animated cartoons. The best known of the DePatie-Freleng creations was that of the animated "The Pink Panther",a cartoon feline character based on the classic 1960's movie of the same name that was one of the best successful ventures ever lasting all the way from the mid-1960's through the early 1980's(some of these were released theatrically and on television). "The Pink Panther" ran on Saturday Morning network television for 12 seasons(1968-1980). But this was not their only venture neither since DePatie-Freleng Productions also were behind the incarnations of several shows as well:The animated versions of "Doctor Doolittle",and the astounding animated series based on the hugely successful Planet Of The Apes movies(and the short-lived live action television series) titled "Return To The Planet Of The Apes",which was also based on the novel by Pierre Boulle which was also based upon the concept of the motion picture of the same title,and comedy animated shows like "Bailey's Comets","Baggy Pants and the Nitwits",the comedy series based on Mr. Magoo titled "The New Adventures Of Mister Magoo or What's New Mister Magoo",also animated shows based on celebrities too like Flip Wilson,Dan Rowan and Dick Martin,Ruth Buzzi,and Henry Gibson not to mention the animated Saturday Morning DFE produced shows like "Super President",and "The Super Six",not to mention various specials featuring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
Marvel Comics are the best comics line in the world (along with DC Comics)
and Marvel have always made great cartoons too.
Spider Woman was fantastic-it's impossible to dislike any fantasy show in my opinion. Spider Woman was a strong heroine who needed absolutely no help from any males when it came to vanquishing the bad guys. And she has a cool costume as well.
There were some great episode-my favorite one was "Pyramids of Terror" guest starring Spider-Man. But it was Spider Woman who ended up saving Spider-Man on a few occasions.
The tune for this show just sticks in your head and I couldn't stop humming it at one point.
If you like Marvel Comics, then you'll like this show.
The Spider-Woman animated series (ABC) lasted from 1979 until 1980,
with 13 episodes produced.
In the 1970's, Marvel Comics created a handful of female versions of some of Marvel's popular male characters (allegedly, just so no one else could lay claim to the names): Spider-Woman, the She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel. Of those three, Spider-Woman quickly became a prominent marketing co-mascot (along with Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Captain America), appearing on various Marvel-branded licensed merchandise, and serving as their defacto representative for lady superheroes (rival DC Comics owned longtime icon Wonder Woman).
Marvel's first animation production house (in cooperation with the DePatie/Freling, firm, who pioneered the "Pink Panther" toons) developed this show.
The show alters the backstory for Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman. The comics had an arguably complicated origin story, which posited her as being born in the 1920's, struck by radiation poisoning, then placed in suspended animation where she slowly grew to adulthood over several decades (while periodically being injected with life-preserving drugs based on spider-proteins)..
The producers perhaps wisely jettisoned this origin, and simply state that a pre-teen Jessica was bitten by a spider when fooling around in her father's research laboratory. A hasty antidote is created, based on the spider's venom, which ends up giving Jessica her trademark powers. As an adult, Spider-Woman can crawl on walls, has super-strength, can mentally communicate with spiders, has a spider-sense that borders on true clairvoyance, can cast webbing from her fingertips, and can glide on air currents with her web-wings (the webcasting, spider-sense and spider-telepathy were not from the comics). Curiously, she transforms into her Spider-Woman costume simply by spinning around in place (and weaving a thin web around herself)-- this was seemingly takin directly from the "Wonder Woman" TV show.
The adult Jessica is now apparently a magazine publisher (Justice Magazine), though apparently she often serves as her own reporter, along with pilot/photographer Jeff by her side, as well as her nephew Billy (Billy's parents, including a presumed Drew sibling, are never seen).
The Kingpin and Dormammu are among the Marvel comics villains used here, though the portrayals are not exactly as the comics origins.
Spider-Man is a guest in two episodes-- though in both, Spider-Woman is clearly the main star, and viewers never see Spider-Man out of costume.
The animation was about par for the time (late 70's). Not pioneering, but not "Rocky & Bullwinkle" cheap, either.
Joan Van Ark ("Falcon Crest") did the voice of Jessica/Spider-Woman.
It would be great to have this series on DVD. Though Marvel owns the character, Disney acquired the video rights to virtually all of Marvel's pre-2000 animated TV shows. Around the time of the first Spider-Man movie's release, litigation started between Marvel and Disney. It has presumably stalled any future DVD explorations from Marvel's library.
I was only four years old when this originally aired, so my memories of watching the show were pretty vague until MCA released a set of episodes on VHS several years later, during the success of "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends". Since I was an avid watcher of THAT show (and had taped nearly every one), I recognized that the music score to "Spider-Woman" shared several pieces and themes with "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends", and the syndicated "Spider-Man" animated series from 1980, albeit re-recorded for those shows. The difference is that the "Spider-Woman" music was recorded with what sounds like a full orchestra, whereas the other series went for more of a jazz/rock feel. The result of the earlier score gave the show a feeling of scope, which otherwise would have left it just as another "Superfriends". Still, for fans of Marvel and other superhero animation, this show is a must, and deserves to have its own release on DVD (as well as other Marvel titles). Hopefully, Saban/Buena Vista will wake up and give us a Marvel DVD Collection, as Warner Bros. has managed to release a number of the DC series to great success.
Spider-Woman was a fantastic animated series from Marvel at a time when
cartoons had begin to dumb down. What you get from Spider-Woman is still
quite juvenile, but it manages to capture enough of the Marvel/Stan Lee
spirit to make it a hit. The characterisations of Jessica
and co are good enough to make this an interesting Cartoon, and it has the
added plus that it doesn't talk down to the viewer.
It was very interesting for Marvel to choose to make an Animated series about Spider-Woman in the first place. The character had only appeared briefly in the pages of Marvel Comics and then she was cast as a villain. The comics writers had to create a whole new character to accomodate the series, and with a fresh origin etc. The character of Spider-Man is all but jettisoned from the proccedings albeit as a guest star in the pilot episode Pyramids Terror. This series was exciting, funny and is well worth a look for Marvel afficianadoes.
This show was lame with a capital 'L', Jessica Drew has super spider
powers because as a young kid she was dying and her father, damning
modern science, injects his kid with an experimental spider serum.
Teaming up with Spider-man in the first episode (to draw in the
audience that he had), this cartoon shouldn't have even bothered. It
had insipid dialog, corny villains (exept the Kingpin" in one episode,
but he was wasted in this craptoon as well), a laughable horrendous
allusion to "Super-friends" in the way it sequeways between scenes.
Thank god it only lasted 16 episodes (though I'm surprised it lasted
that long) Oh and by the way, the episode "Games of Doom" had nothing
to do with Dr. Doom in the least.(wishful thinking on the part of one
of the previous reviewers) The villain of the piece was a crappy
My Grade: F
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