Spider-Man: (while falling and talking to himself) I don’t mind the trip. It’s the STOP that bothers me!
I’ve always felt kind of bad for The Vulture. He was the third villain that Spider-Man ever fought, after a burglar and The Chameleon, and, one issue after he appeared, he was immediately discredited as a threat, because the new month’s bad guy had four, super-octopus arms attached to his body. The Vulture can fly, and in Spider-Man’s NYC, I’m sure that’s a decent thing to put on your OkCupid profile, but as soon as Vulture’s been web-slung, Spidey is just left punching an old man into submission.
Then, this show comes around, and maybe it’ll do for The Vulture what Batman: The Animated Series did for Mr. Freeze and turn him into a sympathetic, engaging character. But since this show’s only sympathetic character is the animation department and their assortment of mental illnesses, the only thing we can get is something lamer than what we’ve seen before, which should by technically impossible.
Plot: I can get behind any show that opens with the best character yelling at the gawky protagonist, so ’67 Spider-Man, you’re alright in that regard. J. Jonah Jameson is screaming at Peter Parker about money when the Daily Bugle building is barraged by birds and a man who gained superpowers on his way to being fired from a burlesque show.
The Vulture claims that he is going to rule the skies and Jameson finds this compelling enough to risk the life of one of his only two fucking employees. He sends Parker out to take photos and Spider-Man’s own genetic ineptitude leads to him being punched in the eye. Parker explains the black eye as “Running into some fowl weather,” which doesn’t make any sense anyway, but in this show, making a single bad pun counts as winning the conversation, so people just accept it as Parker being weird.
The Vulture demands money from City Hall and, in the span of thirty seconds, the mayor decides that The Vulture isn’t very intimidating and declines. If there was any way to weaken an antagonist from the get-go, this show has discovered every technique. He’s supposed to be taken as a legitimate villain and his first act after punching Spider-Man (which, and let’s be honest here, isn’t that big of an accomplishment. In this cartoon, Spider-Man fights like he’s trying out body wash for the first time), is demanding money, and the response is just “Nah.” It’s what writers like to refer to as “castrating your entire plot.”
Spider-Man gets framed for destroying a building, since it shows all of the usual Spider-Man M.O. for being framed for crimes: just being there at the time. This goes nowhere and Spidey ends up defeating The Vulture by disrupting his bird controlling signal with a dropped magnet to the helmet. He just puts it there as The Vulture is trying to throw him and the birds suddenly switch course to attack their master. In a truly fitting move for a children’s show, The Vulture screams and sobs as his birds tear him apart.
Animation Woe: At one point, Spidey attaches his web to a horizontal pole and swings around it. The first half of this goes smoothly, but for some reason, the second half takes a really long time, as if, for a minute, all momentum in the world stopped and Spidey had to hump his way through the air to finish the motion. The creative team for the ’67 Spider-Man cartoon was made of the finest construction workers and cashiers available, and I’ve honestly never seen animation go from being “eh, passable” to “Are they using flash cards for this sequence?” so quickly.
Amazing Spidey Quote: I’m gonna have to stick with the “fowl” one from earlier. In this cartoon, Peter Parker/Spider-Man is a psychopath, enough to the point that, when normal people ask him questions, he can’t help but make his own private jokes to please himself, but annoy and baffle the rest of the world.