Spectacular Spider-Man: the animated series #3-“Natural Selection” Review


natselect

MMMM Spiders are yummy

Part 1 of the classic, long running story arc I like to call “Spidey gets his butt kicked.”

Written by Matt Wayne
Directed by Dave Bullock
Music by L
olita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Dongwoo animation

THE PLOT: Continuing slightly from last episode, the evil Curt Connors stares cruelly into his bathroom mirror before injecting himself with his favorite Lizard DNA serum. However, after being zapped by Electro the serum kicks in at an accelerated pace and fully regenrates Connors’ missing right arm. The cause for celebration is brief, as Connors eventually regresses into a violent and animalistic Lizard creature with total loss for his human self. Can Spidey save the day?

Nothing says well meaning scientist like a sinister look on your face while doing what looks like high tech heroin!

LONG STORY SHORT: Spidey saves the day by forcefeeding a “gene cleanser” down the Lizard’s craw, returning him back to Curt Connors’ human self. Peter even manages to take pictures of the event, much to the disgust of Eddie, Gwen and Martha Connors. Mrs. Connors promptly fires Peter, who then takes a sample of the gene cleanser and briefly considers drinking it to rid himself of his powers before being reminded that he’s needed to save the fathers of New York’s other sons as he did with Billy and Curt.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

This was initially my favorite of the first three episodes since they were originally produced witha three-episode arc in mind. After going through these three again, I have to say my favorite out of them is now INTERACTIONS. Partly because that episode was so good in terms of presenting a truly human angle to its characters. The other reason is that while I still like this episode, some of the characters decisions left me scratching my head. And while I like it when characters actions are mysterious enough to make me wonder what they are really doing/intending to do, when characters make decisions that make you question their logic, its never a good thing.

Oh noes! Its Venom!!Again, I do like this episode. Please don’t think I don’t. The best thing about this episode is the slightly moody atmosphere that vaguely calls back to the pilot episode of the 1994 Spider-Man with its Lizard incarnation. In both versions, we got a psudeo monster story with dark shadows and violence taking place at night. Although in the case of this version, replace violence with the phrase SMACKDOWN. While Spidey got a fair beating in the last episode, this is the first time in the series where he clearly could not win unless he choked that formula down Connors’ throat quick. The Lizard is handled best when he’s vicious, animalistic and extremely powerful in terms of straight up fighting. The angle from the comics, and the later seasons of the ’94 cartoon where the Lizard wanted to start his own master race of super lizards..it doesn’t work. Its an outdated concept for the plot of an antagonist, and it was obvious to throw out. A simple but effective thing the writers here did was just have the Lizard run amuck and head to the nearest hot spot for reptiles. Thats honestly the best and clearest story you can tell with the Lizard character in my opinion. So the overall portrayal of the character is what sells this one for me.

 

JJJ's a crappy writerHowever, I have to come back to what I said at the beginning about the motives of the characters in this episode being suspect. For starters, I still don’t think we really got into Connors’ true intentions by the end of it. He still looks very menacing when he’s by himself and the music and tone of the scenes makes me refuse to believe its an animation error. This is the third episode where we get Connors with a look of hidden intent smacked on his face, yet we never come back to it. Was his end goal REALLY to re-grow his arm and help people around the world? Is this incarnation more akin to the fairly recent revision that Paul Jenkins introduced where the Curt Connors character was less than noble? Was he just really happy to the point of insanity to be away from his annoying as hell wife? (I’m sorry, but I do not care for this incarnation of Martha. I like that they’re both scientists, but she seems to wear the pants in the relationship with a steel belt. She just doesn’t seem like a nice person to me..what do you guys think?) What’s the deal with this guy?

Further, if you’re a scientist who works at a college chem lab and you make a discovery to RE-GROW YOUR TORN LIMB BACK FROM NOTHING, you’re going to contact several collegues and furthur study this right? Right? I know that a traditional idea of the Lizard/Connors identity thing is that Spidey can’t reveal him or his professional career will be destroyed. But Connors seemed to have no idea that he would regress further and further into the Lizard state. I can buy them celebrating. You can even leave the entire “cake” scene in the show. But a line or two of one of the Connors saying that they’ve made some calls to look more into the Lizard serum would be logical. Very logical. This show has an almost visceral sense of realism in it. I don’t see how they wouldn’t have ran with the whole serum thing. No one in their right mind would just stop and celebrate this miraculous of a discovery. FURTHER MORE, when Curt starts to regress, you’d think they would call for scientist help at that point, right? I mean, his life may be in danger. They could at least had someone that they could trust. Maybe a grad school buddy the two Connors know or something, ahh…I can’t go back on this now. What’s done is done.

Finally, at the end when Peter went back home and nearly removed his spider powers with the gene cleanser, it seemed a little forced at that point. Okay yes, he did get fired and looked bad at that. He did anger two of his closest friends. He did get his hand busted by the Lizard. He did have all this happen while trying to be the good guy. I get all that. But this pretty much the first time that things haven’t gone all rosy for him due to being Spider-Man. I could understand it fine if the problems he had in the past like Sally shutting him down and Jameson kicking him out of the Bugle were related to him being Spider-Man. That way we would have a build up leading up to this breakdown that he has here. Instead, he has a really bad day and nearly gives it all up. It seems pretty childish, even for a teenager. I know he’s sixteen, but sixteen does not equal thirteen. He’s not Jason Todd. If he were to seriously question being Spider-Man it’d be much better suited than having a bad day and saying that his life is ruined. It just didn’t feel natural to me.

Moley moleymoleymole!

After all that negativity, I gotta hand it to the writer Matt Wayne. He’s a JLU writing vet and his dialogue here was ON the whole way through. Every quip Spider-Man said was funny to me, and didn’t feel forced or cheesy like it can be in bad comics sometimes.

“Eww Doc! Can you say Halitosis? I knew you could!”

“Hey! Wall crawling is my shtick! Hey-you start swining webs and I’ll sue!”

“Umm, my spider-sense was..tingling?”

This is some classic banter from the Web Head which never gets old when done right. Bravo Matt Wayne.

Overall, despite my gripes on logic and common sense this is STILL a good episode. The action was top notch and intense, which has now become the standard for this show. Voice Acting and animation were both solid as well.

4/5 Web Heads

Best Line Contender-“So, you rob the piggy bank, but won’t touch to cookie jar? Wow. You must qualify for nephew of the year. Twisted division.”

All Images taken from Toonzone.net

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