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This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the premiere of Spider-Man Unlimited. The series lasted thirteen episodes from October 2nd, 1999 to March 31st, 2001.

Spider-Man SMU

The tragic story of the series came about due to the ending of the earlier series Spider-Man. Due to various contracting issues, Fox Kids needed thirteen more episodes in order to continue airing the popular series. However, disagreements between Margaret Loesch and Avi Arad resulted in the series ending. It was decided to create a new Spider-Man series that would adapt the early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man using crude animation, today called Motion Comics. Unfortunately, it was at this time that Marvel Entertainment began facing financial issues and sold the film and television rights to the character to Sony Pictures Entertainment. While Sony began work on the live-action films and Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, Fox Kids was left in a legal dilemma. They could produce a show with Spider-Man/Peter Parker but none of his supporting cast. They toyed with the idea of adapting the Spider-Man 2099 comics, but the popularity of the similarly themed Batman Beyond ended that. The producers got a "shopping list" of ideas they could use and came up with Spider-Man going to Counter-Earth where this Uncle Ben had not died thus causing his counterpart to not reject the symbiote becoming Venom. Marvel feared having two Spider-Men would be too similar to the infamous Clone Saga. The series went into production without any core story, eventually settling on a combination of the Counter-Earth and 2099 elements.

Knights of Wundagore

The series follows Spider-Man (Rino Romano) after he fails to stop Venom (Brian Drummond) and Carnage (Michael Donovan) from boarding the shuttle of John Jameson (John Payne) as he heads to Counter-Earth. When John is able to send a message back to Earth, Peter leaves Mary Jane Watson (Jennifer Hale) behind to go save him and atone for his mistake. When he arrives, he finds that High Evolutionary (Richard Newman) has taken over the planet. His bestials rule the planet with humans occupying the ghettos of The Basement. To enforce his laws, High Evolutionary employs the Knights of Wundagore comprised of the noble leader Lord Tyger (David Sobolov), the sensuous Lady Vermin (Hale), the intelligent but sadistic Sir Ram (Ron Halder), and brutish Lady Ursula (Tasha Simms). Spider-Man finds John now leading the Human Resistance in an attempt to overthrow the High Evolutionary. Peter finds a new home at the clinic of Naoko Yamada-Jones (Akiko Morison) and her son Shane (Rhys Huber). He encounters alternate versions of his classic rogues such as Green Goblin (Romano), Kraven the Hunter (Paul Dobson), Electro (Dale Wilson), and Vulture (Scott McNeil). Meanwhile, Venom and Carnage are serving a mysterious force called the Synoptic and plan to take the planet over for all symbiote kind.

Synoptic

The series was not meant to follow the events of the earlier Spider-Man series, though it did contain numerous references and included parts of Joe Perry's theme song thus establishing a loose continuity. Reception to the show was low. Fans and critics disliked the changes to the character and lack of known elements of Spider-Man, especially so closely following the much loved previous series. Ratings were never high, especially since it was competing against the pop culture juggernaut that was Pokemon on a rival network. After airing the first three episodes, it was put on a month-long hiatus when it was announced the series was cancelled. Fox kept shuffling it around from week to week hurting audiences from watching it consistently. Between Marvel's financial issues and the fact that it ultimately fulfilled the thirteen episodes necessary for the contract it was not renewed for a second season despite ending on a cliffhanger and with several episodes planned. The show's legacy has remained mixed. Some view it as a well-intentioned addition to the comic book lore. Though many consider it one of the worst comic book series ever made. Due to various rights issues and lack of interest, the show never made a full home video release but will be part of The Walt Disney Company's upcoming streaming service Disney+.

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