Disney+ UK TV review: Meet Spidey and His Amazing Friends
Matthew Turner | On 25, Jul 2021
Produced by Alfred Gimeno and Ashley Rideout, this series of computer animated Spider-Man shorts for pre-teens is now available to stream on Disney+. Consisting of 11 four-minute episodes, it’s intended as a taster for a longer series that will air later in the year.
The amazing friends in question are Ghost Spider / Gwen Stacey (voiced by Lily Sanfelippo) and Miles Morales (Jakari Fraser), who’s nicknamed Spin in the first episode, so as to avoid confusion. As that central spider-team indicates, the series assumes a certain amount of familiarity with Into the Spider-Verse (see also: Doc Ock being female), although anyone expecting similar levels of wit, invention or dazzling animation is destined for disappointment.
The title is a pleasingly nostalgic reference to the 1981-1983 animated show Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, which is also available to stream on Disney+. In that show, Spidey’s friends were Iceman and Firestar, a character created especially for the cartoon.
The animation style here is mostly very simplistic, in common with the usual standard of computer animated pre-teen shows, such as Paw Patrol or the recent Rocketeer series. However, a little more care and attention has gone into Meet Spidey, particularly in some of the backgrounds. It’s also very colour co-ordinated – check out Spidey’s red and blue bedroom.
The character and costume designs largely conform to their comics counterparts, although they also have slightly larger than usual heads, making them look like Funko toys. That’s probably not a coincidence – expect to see tie-in toys in the shops between now and Christmas.
Considering the supposedly undemanding target audience, the action sequences are surprisingly good, and it’s clear that a degree of thought has gone into both the physicality of web-swinging and the different powers and fighting styles. That said, the series might want to reconsider the shot of Ghost Spider jumping off the top of a house with her underarm glider-wings, given that the show is aimed at very young children. At the very least it needs to flash up a “don’t try this at home” message.
The pilot episode does a good job of introducing the characters and establishing their powers (Miles also has a cloaking power and an arachno-sting), as well as introducing two new characters: an all-purpose central computer called Web-ster (Nicholas Roye) and a cute little helper robot called TRACE-E, a nice little amalgam of WALL-E and Spider-Man’s spider-tracer (a regular thing in the comics).
Thereafter, the episodes range from solo adventures (Spidey rescuing a cat, Spidey fighting Green Goblin) to one-on-one team-ups (guest stars include Hulk, Ms Marvel and Black Panther) and full-on Spidey Team adventures. Having said that, it’s a bit odd that all three main characters only appear together in three episodes, given the title of the show.
The most surprising thing about the show is how faithful it is to the source material. Miles fighting the Rhino, for example, is a key Miles Morales story and there’s a pre-teen version of it here. There are even some nods to tiny comics details that only hardcore Spider-fans will appreciate, such as the deployment of spider-goo (don’t ask) and making a spider-glider out of web fluid. There’s at least one improvement over the comics, in that the Green Goblin’s pumpkin bombs are repurposed as “pumpkin splats”, making them simultaneously funnier and more visually dynamic.
In short, this is perfectly acceptable spider-fun for pre-teens and there are even little moments to entertain older Marvel fans, such as a reference to the Hulk-sucker-punching-Thor gag in The Avengers. That said, the show could definitely use a better theme song, because “They’ll use the best detective skills / Combine their science smarts and they’ll / Put their heads together / Cos they’re brave and clever” is no “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can”.
Meet Spidey and His Amazing Friends is available on Disney+, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.