Spectacular Spider-Man: the animated series #10: “Persona” Review


"You talkin' t'me? YOU talkin' to ME?!"

“You talkin’ t’me? YOU talkin’ to ME?!”

In a matter of a couple of days, Spidey meets a sexy Cat burgler, gets attached to an alien symbiote and is framed by a criminal mastermind for crimes he didn’t commit. So how’s your week been so far? 

Credits
Written by Matt Wayne
Directed by Dan Fausett
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Dongwoo animation

THE PLOT:

In an effort to stop the Black Cat from stealing the alien symbiote from ESU labs, Spidey finds himself to be the newest host to the extraterrestrial as it upgrades his powers and abilites. He’ll need all help he can get, as the Chameleon makes his appearance to frame Spider-Man by robbin’ banks and mayoral yachts. 

LONG STORY SHORT: Spidey clears his name by defeating and unmasking the disguised Chameleon, who then slips away from the authorities. Spider-Man almost tells Captain Stacy where the alien symbiote went to, but  “he” decides its better to keep it for his crime-fighting uses. Black Cat meanwhile sneaks off with a kiss from Spidey AND the precious Tiger jewel belonging to Mayor Waters.

What's red and blue and black all over?

What’s red and blue and black all over?

 

 

 MY THOUGHTS: This is the start of both the last quarter of episodes in the season and the Venom saga, which I would imagine approximately half of long-time Spider-Man fans have been anticipating and half have been dreading. The Venom storyline, or rather the symbiote saga is always something of a divider between fans of the Spider-Man mythos. The pro side, which I include myslef in, enjoy the amount of troubles the symbiote gives Spider-Man and how effective of a villain Venom can be at his best. The con side tends to argue that the entire concept of an alien suit attatching itself to Peter is too out there, even for a Spider-Man story, and that it tends to take away from the down to earth style the character is usually known for. Both arguements are valid, and it is these subjects for debate that the writers have tackeled at the end of the first season which gives the audience both a very different, yet very very familiar incarnation of the Venom character. Of course, the idea of what the symbiote is meant to be and represent has changed in the past fifteen years or so. Its pretty much a fact that the most lasting incarnation in the general fandom mindset has been the three part “Alien Symbiote Saga” that first appeared in the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon. Much of the innovations that series made with the symbiote was shamelessly  carried over to Spider-Man 3, right down to concept that the suit affects Peter’s state of mind rather than uses up his body like a tank of gas. With these previous symbiote stories in mind, does this incarnation fit with the Spectacular Spider-Man universe? Or is it merely a retread of themes we’ve seen before?

My answer for that lies with my review of “Intervention”, so until then lets discuss the episode at hand here. First and foremost, it should be noted that much like Spider-Man 3, there is a ton of things all happening at once in this episode. We get Felicia Hardy, better known as the Black Cat. We get the Chameleon, the Tinkerer and Quentin Beck respectively. We get the alien symbiote, and the whole bag of chips that will inevitably come with that. If I were to ask you of all those characters which one stood out the most, who would you choose?

 

"And I hot chicks with white hair only appeared in anime!" Peter thought, as the blood rushed to his head.

“And I thought hot chicks with white hair only appeared in anime!” Peter thought, as the blood rushed to his head.

 

Oh yes. You know who. Tricia Helfer..she played the crap out of this role. I must say I don’t watch Battlestar Galactica, so I don’t know if she does that really sexed up, super confident voice professionally. But she absolutely nailed it here. Every line she said had lots of feeling and personality in it, and she was as sexy as she could be in this episode. It adds a lot, because the design of the Cat here doesn’t really help the idea that she’s the super hot babe she’s written to be. But the voice just sells it so well. I actually think her voice is an overall improvement on the character, just on the amount of sheer confidence in herself makes her sexy rather than the flighty, flirty voice Jennifer Hale gave her in the ’94 cartoon. And I liked that voice. That was the voice in my head whenever I would read Black Cat in the comics. But its so much better in this interpretaion because its the personality which makes her a sexy character, not her low-zipped jacket or voluptious figure like it is in the comics. Its a coincedence that Black Cat first appears here when she’s also currently appearing in ASM as of this writing. To compare, the Black Cat of the modern comics is written as a sex-magnet based on her tight leather outfit, huge bust and flirty demeanor. In Spectacular Spider-Man (the show) she’s just as attractive, but its in a more honest, believable way. She’s still every bit as attractive (according to Peter. Again, the design doesn’t do that much for her unfortunately) but she’s not all flash. She oozes substance, and that makes her a much more fun character to watch. She can be as flirty and double-entendre spouting as she wants, but she earns it with her voice which alludes plenty of personality to back all that up. One of my favorite parts is near the end, when Beck gases her. When the billowing cloud fades, Beck and Tinkerer drop unconcious after having their butts whipped. And thats the thing about female characters in comic book media. They can be as sexy as the writers want, but it’s much more satisfying for the audience when they have more than just looks for people to talk about.

Unfortunately, the sheer awesomeness of the Black Cat kind of detrimented the plot of the episode which should have been about the alien symbiote. This is really the craziest thing to happen to Peter ever since he got his powers, and though he’s fought walking sand castles and albino mafioso, the main focus should have been his complete reactions to the suit which has strapped itself to him. The fact that the Chameleon was added in as well as the Black Cat hurt the episode, because it took away from the importance and immedient urgency that the plot of the symbiote calls for. I understand needing villains to occupy Spider-Man’s time, but Black Cat trying to steal the symbiote I felt was more than enough. Chameleon, with Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason as henchmen was just..too much. Don’t get me wrong, they were cool for what we were shown. But after giving Spider-Man an alien wardrobe and a foxy cat burgler, putting him in a frame-up story seemed to oversaturate the story. But he still could have been saved for after this was over with. Really, this one needed to be about Peter reacting to the symbiote and Black Cat trying to steal it and flirt with Spider-Man. Thats why when Peter immediately guessed what had happened and what the suit was doing to him, it rang a little rushed to me.  That I felt was the main bug that this suffered from.

Which Spider-Man robbed which of the lame line "Take a seat!"?

Which Spider-Man robbed which of the lame line “Take a seat!”?

 

For what its worth though, I did enjoy seeing this interpretation of the Chameleon. After over a decade of being familair with an animated mute we have a russian accented-master of disguise in ole Dimitri Smerdyakov. I particularly enjoyed him robbing banks as Spider-Man, mainly because it reminded me of the Ultimate Spider-Man storyline where something very similar happened. I also enjoyed the design of him dressed as Spider-Man which was slightly taller and slightly more muscular. God willing this series goes to Peter’s college days, I hope they use that design for an older Spider-Man. I will admit that while I fully understand a youthful, springer design of Spidey, I am much more accustomed to the older, more mature look to the character such as Mark Bagely’s design in the 90s, and Mike Deodato Jr’s work circa 2004.

Ending with a few thoughts, at the beginning the news report names Curt Connors as “the country’s top bio-genetisist”. Okay, if that’s what he is, then why is he so hard up for cash? I know times are tough, but I would figure such a title would keep the bills paid. Maybe thats how they fixed the lab. Of course, he wouldn’t need any money if he and Martha TOLD PEOPLE ABOUT THE LIZARD FORMULA, but I’m not getting into that again.

Sally’s never been shown to be a nice person, but I was a little taken aback when she started really teasing Flash when it was thought that Spider-Man turned rogue. She was being a straight-up…meany.

Wouldn’t people question what Norman Osborn was doing at  a party in New York if he previously left for Europe?

If Spider-Man’s strength was increased due to the symbiote, why didn’t he just chuck the speedboat out of the water when he webbed it on the yacht?

How did Spider-Man miss Black Cat ditching him if he never looked away from her? We don’t see her leave, but we see him with his eyes open the whole time.

Is Mayor Waters from the comics? I ask because Greg Weisman had said before that they haven’t created any new characters for the show.

THE DIALOGUE WAS INSANE THROUGHOUT THIS ENITRE EPISODE. Mainly concerning the Black Cat.

As long as she doesn't look at his face, its cool

As long as she doesn’t look at his face, its cool

Overall, this was a fun and solid episode that had a few problems from keeping it better one. Three more to go in the first season. 4/5 webs *Best Line Contender- Black Cat: “We’re almost there. Hold on tight.” Spider-Man: “Don’t worry, I don’t slip.” Black Cat: “NOT why I said that.” All images taken from Toonzone.net 

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