Spidey meets not one, not two, but FOUR new characters in this bowling balls-to-the-wall action packed episode.Credits
Written by Matt Wayne
Directed by Dave Bullock
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Dongwoo animation
THE PLOT: The day before the Midtown Fall Formal is in itself a party as Peter attempts to wear Betty Brant down to the point where she’ll agree to go to the dance with him, the Rhino makes his first appearance, and Spider-Man finally learns his role in the overview of the crime world in New York City.
LONG STORY SHORT: Betty turns Peter down due to some meddling by Aunt May. On the plus side, Spidey learns the identity of the mysterious Big Man who turns out to be a certain L. Thompson Lincoln. Spidey gets chased out of his office by the cops, but once again things end on a happy note as he is introduced to the girl with the “wonderful personality” in a Ms. Mary Jane Watson.
Wow, was this a great episode. “The Invisible Hand” marks an important turning point in the series history and continuity, but you know its a keeper when that’s not what keeps you invested. I think this is probably in the top three most memorable episodes in the whole series, and I’m counting both this season and season two. Just the way it upped the ante in terms establishing certain things just left me wanting more by the time it was over. It was really one of those “Aww man, its off already!” kind of moments. And the funny thing is initially when I watched it for the very first time, I remember feeling that the show was starting to become a little formulaic. It was still a good show, and very entertaining. The dialogue was great, the action sequences were always inventive and exciting, and it got the characters right. But the show still seemed to follow a set pattern by this point.
-Hammerhead and Octavious concoct a new supervillain to fight Spider-Man.
-Peter tries to do something and somehow fails at it.
-Flash laughs his goofy laugh.
-Spidey beats the villain on his second try.
-Osborn and Hammerhead talk business in between Norman and Harry’s “Man talks”.
-Cue Ditko-Web at the end.
Okay, I know the show wasn’t EXACTLY like that to a T, but by the sixth episode thats how I was feeling. When Spidey was fighting the Rhino, I distinctly remember thinking “This is cool, but I’d like to see something new.” And thats what makes this episode really stand out for me. In the last half of the third act, everything gets turned on it ear and we are given a new status quo with the revelation of the “Big Man” and his influence in Spider-Man’s life. Oh, and we see MJ for the first time looking quite hot.
I’m just gonna go right to the end and say it. Tombstone. Awesome. This is the coolest interpretation I’ve seen, though granted there haven’t been too many. Kevin Michael Richardson is another veteran VA who somehow gives Toomy a unique voice that is calm and controlled and matches the pigment of his skin. Its a terrific performance and one I enjoy again and again whenever the character shows up. I’m embarassed to say that even when Osborn name dropped “Lincoln” I still didn’t pick up on it. So I was genuinely surprised to see his albino mug in this show. Lastly, the scene where Tombstone literally B-smacks Spidey and tells him whats what never gets old for me. Thats the real selling point of this whole episode. Up til now, Peter’s been fighting relative goofballs in costumes. Lincoln’s a professional thug, so when he tells Spider-Man his place is, that sets up a wonderful conflict and automatically makes Spidey a better hero because we want to see him rise to the challenge of taking this guy down hard. One of the things thats always been prevalent in Spider-Man’s history is that he gets beaten up a whole lot. Pretty much all the time. But it’s his struggles and his subsequent triumphs that we all love seeing. He may be the “everyman” that he gets labled far too often from time to time, but he’s still very much a superhero and he needs to defeat whoever preys on the innocent in his city. Thats what Spider-Man has always done, and thats what Peter vows to do after bolting from DeWolfe and Carter in Tombstone’s office. He’s gonna have to step up his game as a newbie crimefighter, and we can’t wait to see it.
Of course I’d be remiss in glossing over the other first appearances we got in this episode. Beginning with Detective George Stacy, it was interesting to see him shown as a slightly younger version closer to Aunt May’s age in this show. Very remniscent of the Ultimate versions, but of course he’ll have to compete with Dr. Bromwell. It was also funny to see Clancy Brown the voice actor talk to himself, as he played both Stacy and Rhino. Going from that shameless segue, the Rhino was yet again another pitch perfect interpretation. Of course, its kind of hard to screw up the Rhino of all villains, but this version stood apart from the previous one done in the ’94 show in that while both were dumb but powerful, this one was virtually indestructable. He was shown to be so incredibly powerful, I really did get sucked into seeing how Spider-Man was going to beat him. Thankfully the acid-style web fluid from ASM #41 was punted out the window in place of a really ingenius move of having Rhino practically sweat himself to near death. It was logical and brillaint, but also a bit harsh. That really had to suck, but he’s a villain so he deserved every bit of it.
Finally we get the long awaited appearance of Mary Jane. While she only spouts her classic line and nothing else a’la ASM #42, we still get much of her personality in her terrific VA Vanessa Marshall who gives MJ a sexy, wispy voice to entice all the guys with. Her dress is also a knockout I must say. Although I’m not one to be turned on by animated 16 year olds in Spider-Man cartoons, its still a great design for a foxy “it” girl.
Last thing is that the animation was solid, though not the absolute best. Meaning it was still good, but the show’s done better. With that in mind, I thought Harry’s evil smirk at the end was an animation error. Boy was I glad to be wrong but, thats for Thursday’s review.
Like I said, this episode stepped the show up a notch and truly made for an exciting and thrilling 22 minutes. Its pretty much the best episode up to this point in the series. Keep in mind that its the sixth episode out of a thirteen episode season, so we shall see if gets better from here..or worse…!
5/5 web heads.
*Best Line Contender-“Television SO cannot be trusted!”
All images taken from Toonzone.net