It’s time for episode two of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon. Like most of the season one episodes, this one consists of two stories.
Spider-Man has one of the greatest rogues galleries in comics. It’s mind numbing to think about all the classic characters that still exist today that Stan Lee and the artists at Marvel in the 60’s rolled out on an almost monthly basis.
This episode features the Lizard (or “The Lizard Man” as he is called 99% of the time in the show). In contrast to last episode’s first Doctor Octopus appearance, the first appearance here of the Lizard is a very close adaptation of The Lizard’s first comic appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #6.
Let’s compare the two:
- The comic story opens with the Lizard attacking some hunters instead of a couple of fisherman.
- In both, Spider-Man learns about the Lizard from a copy of the Bugle being hawked on a street corner.
- The comic has the Bugle challenging Spider-Man to defeat the Lizard while the show simply has Spider-Man wanting a shot at him.
- Peter tries the same “send me to Florida to get a great scoop” song and dance with JJJ, but unlike the show, it doesn’t work. (Peter convincing JJJ to send him on assignment around the world to places he needs to go as Spider-Man is a common occurrence in the comics.) Instead, Peter has to come back as Spider-Man and web JJJ up. He says that he is going to accept the Bugle’s challenge, so he better send a photographer to cover the story. JJJ agrees…but also goes with Peter to Florida. When they arrive Peter has to pretend to go get film for his camera and sneaks off to become Spider-Man and look for help from Dr. Connors,
- Spider-Man gets pulled underwater by the Lizard in a very similar first encounter.
- Spider-Man finds an upset Mrs. Connors who explains that Dr. Connors is the Lizard. In the comic we get a more traditional explanation of Connors trying to regrow his arm and not trying to cure “swamp fever”, whatever that is.
- Spider-Man’s first encounter with Connors son Billy is a little different but plays out much the same with the Lizard approaching Billy and Spider-Man thinking the Lizard wants to hurt him. Similarly the Lizards runs away at the sound of Mrs Connors voice.
- Next up, more of the same. Spider-Man uses Connors lab to whip up an antidote. (In the show, this is the first mention of Peter being an honors science student.) The Lizard shows up and thrashes the lab and Spider-Man.
- Spider-Man does indeed create “web swamp shoes” for his feet in the comic, but uses a stick to push himself through the swamp…not some magic powered web propellor.
- The climactic battle is very similar as Spider-Man has to avoid a collection of alligators under the control of the Lizard at a castle that is in the middle of the swamp for some reason. Spider-Man eventually prevails after forcing the antidote down the Lizard’s throat. The battle differs slightly here. In the comic, it is the Lizard changing back to Connors that saves Spider-Man as the battle is not going well for him. Whereas in the show, Spider-Man defeats the Lizard and then forces him to take the antidote. When Connors is cured in the show, we see that he has two arms.
- The comic has Peter return with photos of the Lizard, but says he bought them from an Old Indian Guide on the edge of the Everglades. JJJ says they are fake and tears them up. In the show, JJJ claims that a movie crew was making a film about lizards in the Everglades and the whole thing was a publicity stunt, subsequently tossing the photos in the garbage..
As usual, no consideration is given to the fact that Peter and Spider-Man both show up in Florida at the same time. This is a common issue in the comics. They will occasionally try to be smart about it, but generally we shouldn’t think about it too much.
Another episode, another use of Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense with no visual cue. I’ll stop talking about this now, as I don’t think it ever happens again as it did last episode.
Oddly, throughout this episode the Lizard’s alter ego is referred to as Doctor Connor….not Connors. Which is strange, since the source material is obviously Connors.
And another wraps up with Peter Parker breaking the fourth wall and winking to the camera.
This is the first appearance of Electro in the show. He first appearaed in comic book form back in Amazing Spider-Man #9. Outside of Electro being on a crime spree and Spider-Man trying to stop him, this show it is not a straight up adaptation of that story like Where Crawls The Lizard.
Through a series of coincidences and a set up by Electro, the police believe that Spider-Man is the one responsible for Electro’s crime spree. Spider-Man being wrongly accused of crimes by the police (usually urged on by The Bugle headlines) is common trope in the Spider-Man comics.
I mentioned that it wasn’t clear last episode what Betty Brant’s job was, but she is looking more like Jonah’s secretary here, and that will be even more apparent next episode.
During one of his battles Electro, Spider-Man manages to tag him with one of his Spider-tracers. (Actually, he throws like a dozen at him and luckily one sticks. How many of these is Spider-Man carrying?) He then uses his Spider-tracer tracking device to lead him to where he thinks Electro is. (Though in this case, it is a trap.) I was curious in the comics when Spider-Man stopped using an external device to track his Spider-tracers. At some point he fine tunes them so that his Spider-sense can pick them up. Which looks like it started with Amazing Spider-Man #53. Coincidently, that issue was released in October 1967, right around the time this episode aired. And obviously quite a time after it had been scripted and animated.
For some reason Electro is hiding in a fully functioning but closed (?) carnival. It does make for some interesting set pieces as Spider-Man and Electro engage in their final battle. To which, not unexpectedly, Spider-Man emerges the victor. He than webs up Electro and hangs him from a flagpole outside Jameson’s office at The Bugle. How at the going to get him in out of there? And hopefully the police or fire department show up in less than an hour before Spidey’s webbing dissolves. Oh, and Electro also has a “Compliments of your friendly neighborhood Spiderman” note attached to him. No hyphen again! Oh the humanity!
As seems to be commonplace to end these stories, we have a character looking into the camera, making some sly remark/joy and winking. But in this case it is Betty and not Peter.
In closing, I noticed something in the often reused shot of Spider-Man spinning around a flag pole while he is swinging around the city. All the cars in the background are driving over sidewalks and running over pedestrians.