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Sylvester writes...

Ever since I heard the man behind Gargoyles would be working on a Spider-Man animated show, I knew it would be the best yet. The icing on the cake was learning you were also an avid Spider-Man fan. You've done a really excellent job.

I've got to ask though, where is the super strength and spider-sense reflexes? I've seen plenty of web shooting, wall-crawling, agility and did I say web shooting? I just feel those two traits were lacking in the fights he had with Ox, Fancy Dan, and just recently, Tombstone. I'm all for the hero being challenged and all, but not as a result of his powers being watered down. Will we get to see just how strong someone who possesses the proportionate strength of a Spider can be in future episodes?


Greg responds...

Well, you say his powers have been watered down, but I say his powers have been put back to where they started in the early Lee/Ditko comics. Potato/Potahto, except we both know it matters more than that, right?

Spidey has the proportionate strength of a spider still, and I can't say how you can see our show and not feel he has spider-reflexes. But I've never bought into the notion, despite what's been written by individual writers in things like the Marvel Universe Handbook -- and this from a guy who once wrote multiple, multiple entries of DC Comics' Who's Who -- that Spidey is one of the strongest guys around. He's stronger than a normal human, certainly. Considerably stronger. But he's not Hulk; he's not Rhino; he's not as strong as Doc Ock's arms. He's about at Gobby level, in my mind. Even a quote-unquote normal human like Ox, for whom strength is his main claim to fame, can challenge him. Again, all you have to do is look at the early Lee/Ditko issues to see that's how Spidey started. And that's how I think he should stay -- at least as long as he's still so young, physically immature and inexperienced. Which is not to say you haven't seen and won't continue to see feats of strength in coming episodes and especially in Season Two. But Spidey's never been about the strength, and I think it's flat out WRONG to make him too strong, so to speak. Frankly, I'd rather see him overpowered, than over-powered.

Spider-Sense is another ability that I think has, over the years, been abused as well. Pete was bit by a spider, not by a psychic. If you buy the notion of SPIDER-sense at all, you need it to fit with (at best) our perception of what a SPIDER can do. So in our show, Pete can only anticipate an incoming blow. That to me, is key. Pete could walk right by a serial killer with a chainsaw hidden under a trenchcoat and not feel a buzz, unless the guy took a swing at him. (Again, he's not psychic. He doesn't have a built-in EVIL SENSOR.) Because having spider-sense is NEW to Pete, he's not even that great at taking advantage of it now. We've decided that his spider-sense doesn't go off (or at any rate it's too low a level to bother with) when he can see the danger right in front of him. That would be redundant. And unless there's a lot of anticipation to a blow coming from an unseen source, he just may not get enough warning or information. Often the warning comes too late for him to react. Often the warning comes. But it's generic. He knows he's about to get slammed - but doesn't know from where. (It's just a tingling sensation. It can't talk to him and give him more information.) I won't deny that some writers -- including, on occasion, Stan -- have in fact turned spider-sense into an all-purpose evil sensor. But personally I don't buy it.

Of course, you're more than welcome to disagree with me. But I think you can see that there's at least a logic to our choices.

And for the record, all of the above was laid out in our series bible -- long before a single episode was ever written, boarded or animated. And that bible was vetted and approved by Marvel. They had every right -- not to mention responsibility -- to disagree with me and insist on a different approach to protect the integrity of the character. But there were no disagreements. We talked it over and concurred. These decisions weren't made lightly.

Response recorded on May 21, 2008