Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cartoon Review: The Spectacular Spider-man Ep. 19

Title: Growing Pains


So I'm doing cartoon reviews now. I'll be doing these alongside Kevin at the Revolution. We'll be taking turns reviewing the Spectacular Spider-man and I'll be reviewing Wolverine and the X-man as he handles Iron Man: Armored Adventures (no way I'm going near that one again). So While these are mainly for the Revolution, I'll post my cartoon reviews here as well. That's all you kids are getting for Christmas though.

So with that out of the way, I should mention that I have been one happy customer with the Spectacular Spider-man. Not only is it easily the best Spider-man cartoon ever but it’s looking to be the first real competition for Batman: the animated series since Gargoyles. It’s got great characters, animated, storytelling and all around kicks ass.

Last episode saw the return of Venom, a personal favorite villain from my childhood who I really enjoyed during the 1st season. Up until now all through season 2 they have been teasing the return of Venom and he returns in all his tongue wagging glory.

Venom and Spider-man do fight once and it’s a really cool fight. We see just how strong Venom is when he gets 2 full crates smashed into his head once and doesn’t flinch. It’s that kind of crazy stuff I love from this villain. He’s damn near a juggernaut.

Though Venom was more of a sub-plot in this episode that became more prominent at the very end. Here our main “villain” is Colonel Jupiter. J. Jonah Jameson’s son, John (gotta wonder what is their fascination with J’s? Is his wife named July and his brother named Jake?) who is increasing in mass and getting stronger since the Symbiote infected him with spores from a distant planet.

John is given a suit by Dr. Connors that is meant to keep him stable, the suit looks…hilarious. Honestly I can’t see why this was the chosen suit, it’s a little striking. Why not something a little darker and simpler? It’s not a real complaint I suppose but it was odd for me.

As for the Venom sub-plot, Venom is posing as Spider-man and going on a crime spree. Obviously trying to turn the world against him. It’s the most obvious thing for Venom to do which I must admit was frustrating, I was expecting something a little more creative with such a crazy character that Venom can be. This just seems like the most obvious thing he could do, not very crazy of him.

After John is suited up and he, his father and Peter are all heading in a taxi cab Jonah brings up that with his newfound power John could bring down Spider-man. At first Col. Jupiter doesn’t want to bring in Spider-man, but the spores start changing his personality and after Venom attacks him he goes nuts.

This is the main reason I loved this episode was seeing the calm and happy go lucky John turn into this wild and violent person. The transition isn’t exactly subtle but it works very well and it turns him into more of a tragic villain really. He isn’t really even a villain, hence why I use quotation marks earlier, he’s just a guy who can’t control himself.

All through this episode we saw auditions from the main cast for an upcoming play, a Midsummer Night’s dream (the play that will haunt me as long as I hear the name ‘Puck’) and the quotes they recite to audition sort of fit well with the ongoing scenario with Spider-man. Especially Sha Shan’s .

On the Peter Parker side of this episode, 2 moments just killed a part of my soul. One was Gwen actually agreeing to be Harry’s girlfriend and the second was later after Harry finds out he got a lead role in the play the first thing he does is call Norman and mentions it as well as having a Girlfriend.

Anyone who’s read the comics knows that Harry is a sad pathetic little boy clamoring for his father’s love. It makes sense that he would only view Gwen as his girlfriend as something he can tell Norman to try and impress his father to show he’s a son to be proud of. I never have been a big fan of Harry and this is mainly why.

Seeing Gwen and Harry get together just hits me hard as a longtime Spider-fan knowing that Peter/Gwen are supposed to be together. I also feel Gwen deserves a lot better than Harry. She was also pressured by being asked out of nowhere no doubt by Harry to be his girlfriend. She was probably going to say no, but then the ol’ Parker luck kicks in when she sees Liz and Peter together.

I know it may sound silly of me since this is an action cartoon but I really care a lot more by now about Peter and his friends’ personal life as it’s just as interesting if not even sometimes more interesting than Spider-man himself. That is a sign of a good show when you care more about the characters than simply their scenarios.

So back to the main plot of Spider-man vs. Col. Jupiter. It’s a great fight really, Jupiter is pretty strong and he keeps nearly slaughtering Spider-man with a giant planet. Spider-man figures out that high amounts of electricity sap Jupiter’s power which is continuing some foreshadowing from the start of the episode.

Spider-man takes him out by giving him a huge jolt from a giant machine that completely destroys the spores. Now to be honest I was half expecting this to kill John. I know it’s a kids cartoon but if this had actually killed him somehow it would have really increased the whole “world hates Spider-man” thing they where developing.

After John is left with no power he’s taken to the nuthouse as he’s going crazy without it. It’s the obvious twist that once you’ve had power you need it back, like an addiction. This was my favorite scene was Jonah staring down in sorrow as his son starts freaking out and is in a straight jacket. It’s such a huge turn for Jonah that you can tell it hits him hard.

Also we got a funny scene with the new doctor asking Kurt about Electro with “another one of yours?” which was actually kind of funny.

Much to my disappointment Jonah doesn’t do the obvious thing and get depressed or sink into a quiet side over his son going nuts. No he does the typical cliché thing Jonah is known for. He blames Spider-man. I know it’s the in-character thing to do so I can’t really get angry about it but at the same time this would have been a perfect chance for the writers to give Jonah a real personal moment and remind us he isn’t always a foul mouthed bastard.

Just as Jonah is going on a tirade of how he wants to take down Spider-man, Venom crashes in the window and reveals that Peter Parker is Spider-man. End of the episode. Dum dum dum!

All right, a nice twist at the very end but at the same time we all know it’s not going to go anywhere. This is season 2 after all. If it where season 4 or 5 maybe I’d be more willing to believe that this is going to have some major ramifications but that’s something you pull when you’re running low on ideas, whereas with season 2 it’s been obvious that the writers are anything but out of ideas.

Still I can’t deny it’s an exciting cliff-hanger that has me counting down the days for the next episode to get out already. I can’t wait to check out more even if I have a feeling we won’t see Spider-man’s identity publicly known, or if anyone will believe it.

This was another great episode even though I feel Venom should have been more the main plot. Venom’s sub-plot moved along nicely and came to a perfect point at the very end with Venom to be the main villain next week.

While not this season’s best episode it was great nonetheless and the writers did their job perfectly by leaving me excited for more next time. This season is shaping up to be even more exciting, wild and off the wall than Spider-man has been in years.

Episode Rating – 8.5 out of 10

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