Review By Jon T, Media By Stu
Episode #11 - Knights And Demons
Written By: Donald F. Glut
Music Composed By: John Douglas
Guest Starring: John Stephenson as Mordred
Knights and Demons With this episode being heavily concerned with magical forces, this could have been quite ridiculous. Thankfully, writer Donald F. Glut once again pulls off a very entertaining story that showcases each one of the Spider-Friends very successfully, while providing a very engaging guest star in the form of the out-of-time Black Knight. The magical elements of the episode are actually portrayed quite well, with a most of them taking place at night, which is always guaranteed to add atmosphere.
Mordred's Land of Shades is an appropriately otherworldly place, and the various dangers present there are shown quite successfully. Having the Spider-Friends split up in Mordred's domain is an obvious plot element, but works quite well in this episode since the magical threats they face are quite outlandish (although all of Iceman's solo encounter with a few demons is cut completely from one version of the episode).
Apparently, this episode was originally to have featured both the 'historical' version of the Black Knight alongside the Marvel Comics version. It's little wonder producer Dennis Marks vetoed that plot element! So instead we get a mythical Black Knight who just happens to be quite similar to the Marvel Black Knight, with both a winged horse and the Ebony Blade. Black Knight as a (sort of) guest-star character was an interesting choice, especially from a UK perspective, as the character had only recently finished an epic story in one of Marvel UK's weekly comics (that has criminally never been reprinted), that naturally touched upon some of the same plot elements as seen in this episode.
One very important point that just has to be mentioned is how well animated this episode is, with the characters looking far more dynamic than in most other episodes. This was due to this episode being one of a handful of Marvel Productions Spider-Man episodes animated in Japan by Toei Doga. They later animate many further productions for the company, notably the fantastically animated 80s X-Men pilot. Most of their animation was good, but could sometimes be rather rudimentary. For the five Spider-Man episodes they animated however, they were obviously really trying their best at the time, no doubt in order to gain more work from Marvel Productions.
Another thing worthy of note is just how much this episode uncannily foreshadows Marvel Productions later Dungeons & Dragons series, shown on CBS. It's really the combination of a swords and sorcery plot alongside Toei's typically detailed and fluid animation that draws these similarities between the series. In many ways the episode almost acts as a "dry run" for Dungeons & Dragons, even though according to writer Donald F. Glut, this wasn’t supposed to be the case.
In any case, we have yet another fine episode from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends' debut season, which was fortunate enough to be accorded some very nice animation. The only disappointing thing about it is that for the only time in both 80s Spider-Man series, J. Jonah Jameson's voice in his cameo isn't done by William Woodson!