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Mysterio In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

Easily the kookiest and downright weirdest of Spider-Man’s brilliant rouges gallery, Mysterio made his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #13 and has been one of Spidey’s most persistent and colourful villains since. A disgruntled special effects artists who felt bigger things awaited him, Quentin Beck began committing crimes dressed as Spider-Man, turning the public against the wall crawler. Originally believing that he was cracking up and committing robberies in his sleep without his knowledge, Spider-Man went to see a therapist before realising he might reveal his secret identity whilst he was treating him. He eventually realised that Mysterio was the one behind it all and has since gone on to mock his costume relentlessly whilst defeating him time after time.

As with the majority of the Lee/Dikto villains, Mysterio made his first foray onto the small screen in 67 Spider-Man in an episode titled The Menace Of Mysterio that is pretty much a basic adaption of the aforementioned issue of Amazing Spider-Man, only the episode features more of J. Jonah Jameson. After framing Spider-Man, Mysterio says he will publicly defeat Spider-Man for Jameson for a “preposterous” amount.

Unlike most of the villains on the show, Mysterio is actually given a back story and this acts as something of an origin episode for him. A lot of the villains in the show didn’t really get this and they just randomly turn up in the episode, as Spider-Man already knows whom they are. Here, Mysterio is shown to be a stunt man who plans to use Spider-Man’s powers to nest himself a small fortune and use The Bugle to make himself into a hero. He actually had what most, if not all the other villains lacked – motivation.

Mysterio fits perfectly in the show’s tone. He has a comical appearance which means Spider-Man can take the piss out of him with ease, his voice acting is so completely over the top that the lines come across as cheesy as they possibly can and the episode is as funny as possible and… he has a fishbowl for a head. In the 60’s show, the character has the potential to be a comic goldmine, and it didn’t disappoint. Too many writers have tried to make Mysterio into a loser and it has resulted him in becoming a tiresome joke in some cases (his appearance in the Spider-Man 2 video game was nothing more than an annoying waste of time) and I am genuinely worried about what Brian Micheal Bendis will do to him when he makes his inevitable debut in Ultimate Spider-Man but he’s not a loser – he just dresses like one.

Speaking of his design, it’s done pretty nicely here. The budget clearly wasn’t there for this show but rather than try and make it look exactly like Romita, or even Ditko’s Spider-Man they did what Bruce Timm would do years later for this Batman: The Animated Series designs – simplify everything. Get rid of any unneeded lines and keep the designs as basic and clutter free as possible, whilst still making them look like the characters from the comic. Some of the designs did come across as more than a little goofy because of this (Electro and Dr. Octopus come to mind straight away) but it works for Mysterio.

Mysterio was the first villain to get a full 22 minutes to himself, as the majority of the episodes were spilt up into two 11 minute stories. The episode certainly benefited from it as we got to see a little bit more of the villain and a tiny wee bit more of Jameson than we usually do. After Spider-Man defeats Mysterio and hands him and Mysterio’s confession over the authorities, Spider-Man swings into Jameson’s office, demanding an apology for printing lies about Spider-Man, and he wants it in writing. A brilliantly hokey ending to an outstandingly cheesy

As much as I love this episode, by far my favourite episode of the show would be in Mysterio’s next appearance Return Of The Flying Dutchman.