September 06, 2014


(ABC, Syndication, September 9, 1967-June 14, 1970)

Grantray-Lawrence Animation (season 1), Krantz Films, Marvel Comics Group

Peg DixonBetty Brant, Ms. Trubble
Bernard Cowan – Narrator, Dr. Matto Magneto, Plutonian Leader

For a history of Spider-Man, check out the post here.

Spidey swings through the city. Repeatedly.

            The first incarnation of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man on TV took its initial cues directly from the comic on which it was based. Produced by Grantray-Lawrence Animation for the first season, the series primarily focused on Peter Parker’s (Paul Soles) life as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle newspaper. In between clashes with his gruff boss, publisher J. Jonah Jameson (Paul Kligman), and shyly flirting with Jonah’s secretary, Betty Brant (Peg Dixon), Peter would swing into action as Spider-Man to battle many nemeses from his comic. These threats included a decent selection of Spidey’s rogues from standards such as the Green Goblin (Len Carlson), Dr. Octopus (Vernon Chapman & Tom Harvey) and the Vulture (Gillie Fenwick & Soles) to new creations such as the Fifth Avenue Phantom (Max Ferguson), Dr. Magneto (Cowan) and Ms. Trubble (Dixon). Character co-creator Stan Lee served as story consultant for the first season of the show, while then-current series artist John Romita served as art consultant, bringing a mixture of his and predecessor Steve Ditko’s styles to life.

Vulture, Electro and Green Goblin were amongst the comics' rogues.

Spider-Man debuted on ABC on September 9, 1967. The series was mostly written by Lin Carter, with Fred Halliday, Ira Turek, Phil Babet, Al Bertino, Dick Cassarino, Bill Danch, Dick Robbins and Ralph Bakshi. June Patterson served as the script supervisor, as well as provided scripts herself. Ray Ellis composed most of the series’ music, with additional music by Syd Dale, David Lindup, Phil Coulter, Bill Martin, Johnny Hawksworth, Alan Hawkshaw and Johnny Pearson

From criminals to aliens.

            The series was a joint Canadian/American production, with animation being handled in America while the voice talent were all located and recorded in Canada. The budget for the show was extremely limited, putting a heavy reliance on stock footage. The animation utilized as little actual movement as possible, although it was still a marked improvement over their earlier animated effort, The Marvel Superheroeswhich animated mouths over scanned comic images.  The series worked under extremely tight deadlines, as evidenced by the fact that newspaper articles appeared in an episode that aired just three months after they were published. A result of this was that the web design was left off of Spidey’s torso area in order to make animating him quicker and easier. Most of the episodes that season featured two separate story segments, with some single stories to fill the entire timeslot.

Spider-Man without Spider-Man as focus shifts to Peter Parker.

After the first season, Grantray-Lawrence went bankrupt and production was moved to Krantz Films under the supervision of Bakshi. With an even smaller budget to work with, further cost-cutting measures were taken for the next two seasons. Footage from previous episodes were cannibalized and re-edited together with minimal changes to create new stories. Footage from two episodes of another Krantz production, Rocket Robin Hoodwas used almost in their entirety with Robin Hood replaced by Spidey. The classic stable of villains was also eliminated in favor of more generic villains that could be reused over and over. 

Taking on Doctor Octopus with a web sling-shot.

The second and third seasons took a darker tone than the first with the use of dark coloring, psychedelic images and atmospheric music. An attempt was also made to focus on Peter’s life away from work and heroics, including time at school and troubles with women. The second season presented the first time Spidey’s origin was seen on film, although it was based on and used liberal amounts of dialogue from the updated retelling from the deluxe-sized magazine Spectacular Spider-Man #1 from 1968, published just a few months prior to the episode. The second season was comprised of single-story episodes while the third returned to the original first season format. After spending two seasons on ABC, the show moved off of the network into syndication and was primarily seen on Sunday mornings.

Who knew a web-sword would

Probably the most famous element of the show is its theme song. Written by Paul Francis Webster with music composed by Bob Harris, the opening lines “Spider-Man, Spider-Man/Does whatever a spider can” became almost as recognizable as the character itself. Besides being referenced or parodied in movies, TV shows and various comics by numerous publishers (including Spidey’s own), it has been covered by many recording artists over the years including AerosmithThe Ramones and even Michael Buble. The song appeared in all three Spidey movies directed by Sam Raimi in some form--notably the Aerosmith version in the first one (with slightly altered lyrics)--and was played as part of the Marvel Studios logo for their Spidey film series. The Activision video game, Spider-Man, used a re-recorded version of the theme utilizing the instrumentation from the game’s soundtrack in 2000. 

DVD packaging.

Throughout the next three decades, various episodes would be released to VHS along with other Marvel shows. The first time the show was released to DVD was as part of compilation collections of episodes from Spider-Man: The Animated Series by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment starting in 2002. In 2004, Disney released the complete series in Spider-Man: The ’67 Collection, which also featured an introduction from Stan Lee. In 2008, Liberation Entertainment released the first season in Region 2 before the rights eventually went to ClearVision, while Morningstar Entertainment released some episodes in Canada from VHS and Betamax copies of the Prism Video Marvel Video Library. The entire series eventually made its way to virtual streaming on both Netflix and Marvel’s website. In 1967, Marvel published a package comic, America’s Best TV Comics, to promote the network’s Saturday morning line-up which featured a truncated reprint of The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (1966).

Spider-Man '67 meets Ultimate Spider-Man and Miles Morales in Spider-Verse Team-Up #2.

In 2014, the world of the series was presented as an alternate universe in the story arc “Spider-Verse” running through The Amazing Spider-Man and related titles. The story depicts Spider-Men from various dimensions banding together to stop a threat that seeks to eliminate them all. Amazing vol. 3 #11 sees two Ultimate Spider-Men (Miles Morales from the comics and the animated version airing on Disney XD at the time) traveling to the ’67 Universe (designated Earth-6799) to recruit that world’s Peter Parker. While the visiting Spideys retained their distinctive style, that Peter and his world were rendered in an art style made to resemble that from the show. Many in-jokes to both the dated look of the show and the limited production budget were made by the two visiting Spideys. Along with Spidey, appearances were made by Jameson and Brant in the first part, and villains Green Goblin, Scorpion, Vulture, Electro and Dr. Noah Boddy in the second part in Spider-Verse Team-Up #2. In 2018, the Spider-Verse concept was adapted into the film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and the ’67 series was referenced and shown a few times. Additionally, stills and GIFs of several scenes had become viral internet memes on social media.



Season 1:
“The Power of Dr. Octopus / Sub-Zero For Spidey” (9/9/67) – Assigned to investigate mysterious lights, Spidey stumbles upon Dr. Octopus’ plans to disrupt all the city’s utilities. / Visiting Professor Smartyr bring Spidey in contact with an alien ice creature.

“Where Crawls the Lizard / Electro the Human Lightning Bolt” (9/16/67) – Spidey travels to the Florida Everglades where he encounters The Lizard. / Spidey battles Electro, who has framed Spidey for his robberies.

“The Menace of Mysterio” (9/23/67) – Mysterio frames Spidey for a bank robbery in a plot to use Jonah to issue a challenge to defeat Spidey for a huge cash payout.

“The Sky Is Falling / Captured by J. Jonah Jameson” (9/30/67) – Spidey battles the Vulture and the flock of birds under his control. / Professor Henry Smythe invents a Spider-Slayer, which Jonah uses to try and capture Spidey.

“Never Step on a Scorpion / Sands of Crime” (10/7/67) – Jonah funds the creation of the Scorpion in order to defeat Spidey. / Sandman is on a crime spree and Spidey is blamed for them.

“Diet of Destruction / The Witching Hour” (10/14/67) – Spidey battles a giant car-eating robot. / Green Goblin seeks to use Jonah as a conduit to the spirit world to gain supernatural powers.

“Kilowatt Kaper / The Peril of Parafino” (10/21/67) – Electro escapes from prison. / Spidey chases an escaped prisoner into Parafino’s Wax Museum.

“Horn of the Rhino” (10/28/67) – Rhino is on a crime spree and Spidey must stop him—while impaired by a cold.

“The One-Eyed Idol / Fifth Avenue Phantom” (11/4/67) – Jonah receives an idol that hypnotizes him into depositing money inside of it to be collected by R.E. Cliventon. / Spidey tries to trap the Fifth Avenue Phantom but ends up encountering his female robot slaves.

“The Revenge of Dr. Magneto / The Sinister Prime Minister” (11/11/67) – Shunned by the Science Hall of Fame, Dr. Magneto uses his mastery of magnetism for revenge. / Spidey sneaks a visit with the Prime Minister of Rutania for a scoop only to discover an impostor.

“The Night of the Villains / Here Comes Trubble” (11/18/67) – Historic villains are robbing the city, leading Spidey back to Parafino’s Wax Museum. / Miss Trubble uses a magical chest to summon mythological figures to commit robberies of ancient artifacts.

“Spider-Man Meets Dr. Noah Boddy / The Fantastic Fakir” (11/25/67) – Dr. Noah Boddy makes himself invisible to get revenge on Jonah for a negative editorial. / A Fakir uses a magical flute to control animals against Spidey as he attempts to stop the fakir’s jewel thefts.

“Return of the Flying Dutchman / Farewell Performance” (12/2/67) – Spidey investigates reports of the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman and discovers Mysterio behind it. / Blackwell the Magician brings a Jekyll & Hyde poster to life in order to save his theater from demolition.

“The Golden Rhino / Blueprint For Crime” (12/9/67) – Rhino steals gold bullion to make a statue of himself. / The Plotter hires Cowboy and Ox to steal the blueprints for a missile.

“The Spider and the Fly / The Slippery Doctor von Schlick” (12/16/67) – A jewel thief in a human fly costume gives Spidey a merry chase. / Chemist Dr. Von Schlick steals large quantities of oil.

“The Vulture’s Prey / The Dark Terrors” (12/23/67) – Vulture kidnaps Jonah and presses him for information on potential heist targets. / The Phantom uses shadow-scope glasses to create shadow beasts to terrorize the populace and cover his crimes.

“The Terrible Triumph of Doctor Octopus / Magic Malice” (12/30/67) – Dr. Octopus steals Dr. Smartyr’s destructor missile to make all nations bow to him. / The Green Goblin invades Blackwell’s theater and steals some of his props and spells from his magic book.

“Fountain of Terror / Fiddler on the Loose” (1/6/68) – Dr. Curt Connors goes missing looking for the Fountain of Youth, and Spidey discovers the fountain has a protector in 15th Century conquistador Ponce de Leon. / A fiddler lashes out at rock and roll music with a sonic violin.

“To Catch a Spider / Double Identity” (1/13/68) – Noah Boddy unites Green Goblin, Electro and Vulture to go after Spidey. / Disguise master Charles Cameo goes on an art theft spree.

“Sting of the Scorpion / Trick or Treachery” (1/20/68) – Scorpion escapes from prison and returns to the lab of his birth, drinking a potion that increases his size. / Paroled Human Fly Twins steal diamonds with one of them disguises as Spidey in order to frame him.

Season 2:

“The Origin of Spider-Man” (9/14/68) – Indirectly causing his Uncle Ben’s murder leads Peter Parker to use his new powers to fight crime as Spider-Man.

“King Pinned” (9/21/68) – Peter overhears how the Kingpin is stocking drug stores with phony drugs at gunpoint.

“Swing City” (9/28/68) – The Master Technician takes over a nuclear reactor and uses it to lift Manhattan to the sky in ransom for money, his own reactor, and amnesty for his crimes.

“Criminals in the Clouds” (10/5/68) – Peter decides to use his powers to show up the star football player Roy Robinson while Sky Master plans to kidnap Roy for ransom.

“Menace From the Bottom of the World” (10/12/68) – Escaped criminal Muggs Reily uses a population of mole men to steal entire banks in sinkholes.

“Diamond Dust” (10/19/68) – Peter tries to win a spot as a relief pitcher for the school team, which leads him to discover Shakespeare’s plot to rob the college museum.

“Spider-Man Battles the Molemen” (10/26/68) – The mole men seek to eliminate Spidey in order to invade the surface.

“Phantom from the Depths of Time” (11/2/68) – Dr. Manta uses a special organ to enslave inhabitants of an island to mine a valuable ore.

“The Evil Sorcerer” (11/9/68) – Kotep, the Scarlet Sorcerer, is frozen in time by a rival until revived by a dismissed college professor in the present who seeks to use Kotep for revenge.

“Vine” (11/16/68) – Spidey inadvertently releases a giant plant on the city and must travel back in time to find the scientist who created it for a way to stop it.

“Pardo Presents” (11/23/68) – While on a date Peter becomes entangled in a mind-control robbery scheme by the evil Pardo.

“Cloud City of Gold” (11/30/68) – While as an exchange student in South America, Peter’s plane crashes in the jungle and it’s up to Spidey to return its crew to civilization.

“Neptune’s Nose Cone” (12/7/68) – While tracking a fallen nose cone for the Bugle, Peter and his pilot Penny Jones crash on an island of superstitious natives.

“Home” (12/14/68) – Peter meets Carol and discovers they have a lot in common, including similar powers which she uses to steal.

“Blotto” (12/21/68) – Unbalanced movie producer Clive is determined to prove to critics and audiences alike that the darkest human emotions can be filmed.

“Thunder Rumble” (12/28/68) – A lightning-throwing giant Martian warrior comes to Earth to steal all its gold.

“Spider-Man Meets Skyboy” (1/4/69) – Dr. Irving Caldwell creates a levitating helmet, which leads him to be kidnapped by Dr. Zap and causes his son Jan to become Skyboy to save him.

“Cold Storage” (1/11/69) – Dr. Cool and his henchmen take their diamond heist to an ice factory to hide them amongst the ice to fool customs while smuggling the diamonds.

“To Cage a Spider” (1/18/69) – Spidey is laid low by two criminals and rescued by Captain Stacy, to whom he returns the favor when Stacy is held hostage by escaping criminals.

Season 3:

“The Winged Thing / Conner’s Reptiles” (3/22/70) – Spidey is unable to stop the Vulture’s latest crime spree, at least not without the help of some winged friends. / Dr. Connors’ experiments result in a super-intelligent alligator that Spidey must travel to Florida to stop.

“Trouble With Snow / Spider-Man vs. Desperado” (3/29/70) –  A snowman is brought to life through an electro-chemical accident. / Cowboy-themed Desperado uses his electronic flying horse to commit a series of robberies.

“Sky Harbor / The Big Brainwasher” (4/5/70) – The mayor asks Spidey to save the city from Baron Von Rantenraven and his sky pirates. / Mary Jane Watson gets a job that unwittingly puts her in the middle of Kingpin’s plot to use mind control on various city officials.

“The Vanishing Doctor Vespasian / Scourge of the Scarf” (4/12/70) – Dr. Vespasian creates an invisibility serum that he decides to use to destroy Spidey and prove his power to the city’s criminals. / The Scarf uses illusions to rob from the city’s rich.

“Super Swami / The Birth of Microman” (4/19/70) – A Swami uses illusions to cause chaos in the city. / Peter unknowingly gives a ride to the escaped Dr. Pretorius and must stop his latest scheme while clearing his name after being pegged as Pretorius’ accomplice.

“Knight Must Fall / The Devious Dr. Dumpty” (4/26/70) – Sir Galahad, a motorcycle-riding knight, goes on a crime spree while Jonah continues his attacks on Spidey in the press. / Dr. Humperdink Dumpty uses balloon-themed devices to knock out victims and steal their valuables.

“Up From Nowhere” (5/3/70) – Dr. Atlantean covers Manhattan in a bubble dome and sinks it beneath the ocean to allow the Atlanteans to invade easily.

“Rollarama” (5/10/70) – Rolling seed pods from another dimension threaten the city, forcing Spidey to journey to their dimension to find a way to stop them.

“Rhino / The Madness of Mysterio” (5/17/70) – Rhino once again tries to make a golden statue of himself. / Mysterio traps Spidey in an abandoned amusement park and tricks him into thinking he’s six inches tall.

“Revolt in the Fifth Dimension” (5/24/70) – Spidey becomes embroiled in an intergalactic struggle when a dying alien scientist gives Spidey a tiny data library sought after by alien foes.

“Specialists and Slaves” (5/31/70) – Master Technician, now the Radiation Specialist, returns and levitates the city while taking control of most of the populace’s minds.

“Down to Earth” (6/7/70) – Sent to locate a fallen meteor in the North Pole, Peter and pilot Osa Olsen crash in a wasteland populated by savages who possess the meteor.

“Trip to Tomorrow” (6/14/70) – Spidey meets a boy who wants to become a superhero and tries to talk him out of it with tales of Spidey’s exploits.

Originally posted in 2014. Updated in 2020.


LTYSON said...

A cool action cartoon with the iconic Spider-Man. Again, the original run was before my time but loved watching the reruns in the 70's & 80's. This show is high on the the nostalgia ratings, because it has one of the coolest theme songs & because it is very closely related to the beginning of Spider-Man. I think Spider-Man was actually created in 1963 & this show came out 3 years later.

Chris Buchner said...

Amazing Fantasy #15 came out in 1962. Amazing Spider-Man #1 made its debut in 1963. You'll see Spidey 60th Anniversary logos beginning to grace his books sometime this year. There are previews of it floating all around the web right now.