*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When the show first came out, the designs were understandably peculiar to the standard Spider-Man fans out there, waiting for the definitive Spider-Man cartoon which promised to be more faithful to the heart of the comics than ever before. We were all skeptical.
The show has blown us all away. Greg Weisman has turned his rather simplistic designs into works of art, and it incorporates by far the best action seen on a Spider-Man show. The show might be a little hard to digest if you're viewing it from the first episode, but it becomes far FAR better when watching it in order. Each episode is set in arc form---meaning that 3 episodes of each season are all intertwined to create a sort of serial which balances off the other episodes. So as a result, there are no filler episodes---each has their own purpose, and although the 90s show accomplished this---you'd be lost if you missed more than 2 episodes of the season. Beware, this show is set from a younger Spider-Man, as to how he appeared from the Ditko era, so the tone will be a tad lighter within the supporting characters---but the show is still markedly more mature than the FOX Spider-Man show. The relationships are also changed a tad from the comics. Harry and Gwen are now best friends with Pete in high school, and as jarring as that sounds---each develop their own purpose. Gwen has been given a geek look, which might upset some purists who believe she should be a beauty queen---but her character will make sense as the show moves along. Also refreshing---Mary Jane for once is not the MAIN love interest. Hell, she doesn't even appear until the 6th episode. There are also an extremely large supporting cast, which makes the transition from Spider-Man to Peter Parker no big deal. Heck, you might even want to see what happens to Pete instead of his alter-ego.
When dealing with bad guys, the tone of the show shifts from fairly dark to brutal, and the violence is amped up completely from FOX. If you're worried about censors, don't be---because the show doesn't hold back---it delivers. The guns are thankfully real, with quite a few 9 mms and machine guns being seen === and not lasers, (if you can get past the laser sounds.) What the show does best is that it doesn't speak down to the kid audience, because I believe that Weisman made it more for the fans if anything. The show becomes pretty deep, and a lot of the material could be seen as heavy, but its no more than the DCAU Bruce Timm universe. There are references to death threats as well which is welcome. So, bottom line, the show has gone on long enough to where I can say its the best version of Spidey out right now, that doesn't talk down to the kiddies, and is a throwback to the 90s when shows could be intelligent and non compromising at the same time.