9 Takeaways from the “Secret Wars” Storyline in Spider-Man: The Animated Series

Spider-Man: The Animated Series was a very popular animated superhero show. It was decided at some point it was the idea vehicle for adapting the Secret Wars story, and they did it over several episodes. Welcome to the third edition of Marvelous Animation!

1. The Beyonder

Listen, it’s really hard to come up with a non-stupid way to set up a Secret Wars story. I suppose The Beyonder is as good as a way as any. Why would he pick Spider-Man for such an assignment? I don’t know. Secret Wars as a concept is pretty stupid in general though so it’s best just to do what they did and rip the band-aid off as quickly as possible before we have time to ask too many questions.

 

2. Spider-Man is actually pretty good at making a team

Despite Spider-Man not really being a logical pick to lead this team, he does at least actually do a good job of putting together a fun ensemble of characters and strong people to support him. The choices both helped to make this event feel like an Event and to make Spider-Man seem smart and not stupid.

 

3. GIANT FUCKING WORMS WITH LASERS

The only thing more fun than our heroes having to take on giant worms is when they have to take on giant worms that shoot lasers out of their foreheads.

 

4. BLADE MAKES A CAMEO!

IN THIS HOUSE, WE FUCKING LOVE BLADE!

 

5. Captain America and Black Cat’s Connected Past

It was a good use of the ensemble to actually do something with the characters. The Black Cat and Captain America have a uniquely shared history that got to be discussed. They probably could have done much more with this thread, but it getting touched on at all was nice.

 

6. Lizard Redemption

A really awesome beat for this arc to play in the first episode is to have The Lizard immediately turn babyface. Lizard really exemplifies the stupidity of the good vs. evil stories that superheroes rely on. By giving him a story of him trying to resist the “evil label” that The Beyonder placed on him at the start introduced some much-needed pathos to this story.

 

7. Here’s Blade again!

I will shout-out Blade every time he appears in this massive Secret Wars story. It’s motherfucking Blade.

 

8. The Tragedy of Ben Grimm

Didn’t realize how much Dr. Doom was Capitalist/Imperialism Propaganda until this arc (having never watched/read much Dr. Doom related stuff before), but it did at least lead to a very effecting Ben Grimm storyline. Ben being given an opportunity to present himself how he sees himself and that desire being manipulated to cause him to betray his family is so sad. Much like the Lizard story, it was a great way to add some much needed pathos to what could have been a completely shallow crossover event.

 

9. Flat Ending

The endgame is Dr. Doom tricking himself into thinking he could POSSESS The Beyonder and then Ben saving everyone else from Doom only for it to be revealed that The Beyonder only made Doom think he successfully possessed him. Beyond the suddenness of the endgame, it was also quite flat given the scope of this crossover.  I’m not sure how it could have been done in a better way given the mild restraints on the storytelling. And in an age where there is a really unsatisfying giant battle at the end of almost every superhero movie, an odd little ending is certainly much better than that. But still. A little flat.

 

Recommendation?

While not in any way a home run, this arc really over-delivers based on how bad it could have been! It’s fun in broad strokes, and there are a lot of sweet smaller moments here and there to make it more satisfying than a lot of actual comic book crossover events.

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