Promo art for The Spectacular Spider-Man.
In 2008 Kids' WB, in association with Sony Pictures Television, premiered The Spectacular Spider-Man, a cartoon focusing on the early career of everyone's favorite wallcrawler, including his first meeting with legendary villains like Dr. Octopus, Electro, Mysterio, Rhino, Vulture, The Green Goblin and, of course, Venom. The series was an instant success, being praised by both comic fans and the average TV viewer alike. The art, while simple, was fluid and attractive and the writing was all a Spider-Man fan could possibly ask for. Not since Batman: The Animated Series (widely considered the best superhero cartoon ever) had a small-screen adaptation of a superhero been so faithful to the source material and so well executed.
Here in Vermont, it's likely that the most comic fans missed The Spectacular Spider-Man all together. Comcast, one of the state's major cable providers, doesn't even offer The CW, the channel which originally carried the series, in all of its coverage areas. Those who did manage to see the series were only treated to two seasons before it disappeared. Many wondered if it had been taken off the air. However, the program had merely moved...to a station that is only offered on the more expensive TV packages.
Launched in 2009, Disney XD is a station which plays mostly children's animated shows. It is also the station on which The Spectacular Spider-Man is currently aired. Here in Vermont, it is offered on Comcast as part of their Digital prefered package and all packages above that, and on Dish Network as part of their Classic Silver package and all packages above that, making it a premeir channel and thereby an extra cost should the viewer desire to have the station. This is in very stark contrast to when viewers could catch The Spectacular Spider-Man on their basic cable package, or even free over the airwaves.
Currently, production on The Spectacular Spider-Man is on hold. The renewal of the series is now dependant on ratings of season 2 on Disney XD and on DVD sales. This has left many wondering how it's possible to save a series that they love, but may not be able to watch due to its relocation to a premium network. While it's true that many Americans are now opting for "the best" TV packages, many more are still going with basic, expanded basic and digital starter packages, especially now when the economy is struggling. It also begs the question "why was the decision made to place such a well-recieved, well-liked show on a premium station rather than leave it on a basic network?" Perhaps the answers will soon arise, but until news of the series' fate becomes public, it's hard to say. Even the head of Marvel Animation, Eric Rollins, has stated that "no decisions have been made either way" on the show's fate, and that was in November, so it may be some time before news finally comes.
Currently, fans of the show who have been wondering what happened to it have a few viewing options. The first, of course, is to call your TV service provider and pay the extra amount to get Disney XD on your TV. Also, several DVDs of the series have been released, as well as the series being available for download on iTunes. Those looking to view the show for the first time have the same options.