(Images credited to TZ's "Marvel Animation Age")
Poor Spidy, a few years after the 1990s' animated series was cancelled, on a cliffhanger, Marvel, nearing legitimate bankrputcy after their sales plummeted, and one animated series after another was ended, regardless of quality (Silver Surfer was dynamite) tried every last resort to fight off the end, to this extent, they decided to bring Spidy back, only in a completly different way.
Spider-Man Unlimited originally began life as Spider-Man 2099, a series based on the classic Peter David scripted futuristic Spider-Man series that featured its' own great cast and new and interesting spins on the kind of world a Spider-Man would inhabit. Marvel had hoped to adapt 2099 because Sony held the rights to use many of their villains for future Spider-Man movies.
But the 2099 deal fell through, some of the designs and inspirations were maintained, including the coustume that would dominate most of Unlimited.
The coustume was partially based on a suit that would appear in an issue of 2099, worn by a character that was'nt even Spidy himself. How convieniant, because Spider-Man Unlimited had nothing to do with what makes a Spidy series either.
Right off the bat, the series confused viewers. As Spidy attempts to prevent long time adversaries Venom, and Carnage from hijacking John Jamesons' one man space mission to a Counter Earth recently discovered by humanity, Venom and Carnage are on a mission to use something called the "Synopitc" to rule the planet and spawn a world of Symbiotes (this is'nt revealed until later in the series)
So wait, instead of being vindictive, preadatory characters out for either Spidys' blood, or in Carnages' case, everybodies' (which the 90's series, despite its' limitations on violence, got right), these two mortal enemies to one another AND Spidy are in cahoots, hatching a scheme Doctor Claw could smack himself for not conjuring up. Wowsers.
What's worse is that Carnage looked RIDICULOUS, Venom at least kept true to his look and style, but Carnage had unconvincing spikes hanging out of his body and a neck that looked like it was packing pencils.
...Yes, even Carnage feels the pain, and dont' worry folks, we'll be seeing what our freind Mr. Kassidy thinks of some other decisions in this series.
Anyhow, Spidy fails to stop these two from hijacking the shuttle, and is blamed for John soon becoming stranded on Counter-Earth, Spidy is villified and cast out from society, and even is thought dead when he saves the lives of a few people in a fire. Giving Pete a clean slate to start over
But Pete is soon brought into action again when John sends a distress signal from Counter-Earth, seeking his chance to redeem himself for failing John, Pete makes use of his new "nano-tech" coustume develolped by Mr. Fantastic (convenitant excuse to start using it within the first fifteen minutes to sell the hopeful toys)
The first episode is one of the best in my opinion, but thats' due to the apperances of a few classic Spidy stars, Mary Jane, Jonah Jameson, and Nick Fury, not to mention the original coustume. By the conclusion though, Spidy abandons this world and we never see it again for the duration of the series. Spidy arrives on Counter-Earth, where he encounters his main enemies, the Beastials.
The Beastials are essentially the upper class of this planets' society, with humans treated with almost racial disdain, a stong theme for a cartoon to undertake, but with X-Men having already done it to a dramatic extent, this was'nt a new subject.
The Beastials were created by a human of all ironies, The High Evolutionary. Spidy eventually jons a rebellion led by John Jameson and a girl called Karen, John has vowed to leave only when the Evolutionary is defeated. Spidy can't get back without John, plus his shuttle is taken, leaving him with no choice but to fight alongside his freind.
Now, just because the designs to Spidys' rouges gallery were tied up in cinematic red webbing, did not neccersairly mean that classic adversaries could'nt appear in different ways, thanks to the format of The Beastials, Spidys' greatest enemies could be used with different forms.
...Green Goblin (who was neither an enemy, or an Osborn)
(Yes, once again, even Carnage cant' cope with such decisions)
That being said, no show is perfect, or entirly flawed, Unlimited's best episodes came in the latter run of the show, "Sins of the Fathers" develops the characters of Karen and The Evolutionary in a cliched "I am your GRANDFather" plotline, "Family Matters" explores one of the fighters' longing to reunite with his brother, but finds that his closest family member would rather sell him out, and is killed by the conclusion of the episode. "Sustinence" sees Pete attempt to return to his own world, his human attributes and longing for home blinding him to his current mission.
The best of the episodes "One Is The Lonliest Number", is a Venom showcase, featuring some of the best flashback material the show ever animated, that of Spidy wearing the alien symbiote.
Aside from this, the show finally came to a close after thirteen episodes, a commercial flop from its' premiere, the series never even wrapped up in its' premiere 1999 season, after three episodes it was taken off the air and the remaining episodes aired long after ther Pokemon/Digimon wars began in 2000. The final episode ended, like the 90s' cartoon and the (in my opinion) piddling MTV version did also, on a cliffhanger. And nobody cared. Noone.
What led to this show? Whose bloody fault was it that instead of carving out a series on Miguel O'Hara, Spidy 2099, and enable Marvel to predate Batman Beyond in the animated medium much like Davis' comic had already predated it a decade ago, we got this.
Your answer? Could it possibly be Raph Bakshi, the second producer of the very first Spider-Man cartoon?
For the uninformed, there were a few episodes in the immortal first Spider-Man cartoon that were actually taken directly from past episodes and animation of a space adventure cartoon called "Rocket Robin Hood", they just replaced Rocket with Spidy for the episodes. Leading to things that most certaingly, with a good smoke of a joint, looked out of place, yet looking at 'em, I have no doubt one of the weed bandits who liked these episodes helped make Spidy Unlimited what it is today.
...And animated scenes like this
Fortunatly, Marvel and Spidy soon bounced back to larger success on the big screen, Spidys' comic was taken over by quality writers, and the franchise enjoys a current burst of renewed critical acclaim...
...Until they revealed Gwen Stacy boffed Norman Osborn
Thankyou Mr. Kassidy
..But thats' another story.