Spider-Man Strikes Back (1978)

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After the success of his TV pilot film in 1977, the wall-crawling, web-slinging Marvel superhero returns to stop an atomic bomb in what was originally a two-part episode of the short-lived series.

Peter Parker, now known as the superhero Spider-Man, has just made headlines by saving a suicidal woman from jumping off a building. The next day, he is in class when he comes across three classmates, Ted, Craig, and Carla. The class revolves around the idea of using plutonium oxide to make an atomic bomb. Ted, Craig, and Carla decide to sneak into the lab one night to prove they can make the bomb. Meanwhile, Peter meets with Gale Hoffman, a big city reporter who is a huge fan of Spider-Man and goes along with him to find the superhero.

Mr. White, a respected businessman, is actually a crime lord who has learned about the theft of the plutonium and plans to find the bomb. When Peter, as Spider-Man, investigates the theft, he unknowingly finds himself framed for the theft. White sends his men to go after Peter. When Peter learns Carla has been poisoned as a result of exposure to the plutonium, he learns the truth and now must find a means to stop White from getting the bomb as without letting Gale know his secret identity.

With 1977’s original TV version of Spider-Man, it is believed they had a hit as it was the first time the Marvel icon would transition to the small screen after his appearance in the PBS kids series The Electric Company. Nicholas Hammond returns in the role of Peter Parker, who in this two-parter originally titled The Deadly Dust, must stop an atomic bomb when three of his classmates willingly built the bomb to prove that anyone can make one out of plutonium oxide.

There are some nice twists and turns for a 2-part episode, which include Peter being framed for the plutonium theft. That alone makes him a target not only by Captain Barbera, played by Michael Pataki, but the notorious Mr. White, played by veteran Robert Alda. Alda’s two main henchmen include a martial artist played by Emil Farkas, who gets in on a few scraps against Spidey himself; and the hulking Lawrence Casey. This also includes the character of Gale, played by JoAnna Cameron, a reporter following Peter in hopes of having an interview with Spider-Man. Cameron would be known for playing another superhero, that of Isis in a short-lived Saturday morning kids’ series.

Fred Waugh once again serves as Spider-Man’s suit double, performing all of Spidey’s wall crawling and web-slinging. He also performed the fight sequences against the likes of Farkas and company. Once again, the action is definitely on the television level and for what it is, they are quite decent.

Spider-Man Strikes Back brings the Marvel superhero back to TV form as he must stop an atomic bomb with the required stunt work and some fun wits from Nicholas Hammond and Robert F. Simon as Peter and J. Jonah Jameson.

WFG RATING: C+

Columbia Pictures Television a Goodman/Fries production. Director: Ron Satlof. Producers: Robert Janes and Ron Satlof. Writer: Robert Janes; based on the characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Cinematography: Jack Whitman. Editing: Erwin Dumbrille and David Newhouse.

Cast: Nicholas Hammond, Robert F. Simon, Chip Fields, Michael Pataki, JoAnna Cameron, Robert Alda, Steven Anderson, Anne Bloom, Randy Powell, Lawrence Casey, Emil Farkas, Sid Clute, Simon Scott.

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