Spectacular Spider-Man: the animated series #11-“Group Therapy” Review

In the air while having your head squeezed. That's staring contests done hardcore.

In the air while having your head squeezed. That’s staring contests done hardcore.

The Sinister Six is formed and have teamed up to kill Spidey! But will Peter’s new symbiote costume beat them to it?Credits
Written by Andrew Robinson
Directed by Jennifer Coyle
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Dongwoo animation

THE PLOT: Nearly all of the villains Spider-Man has beat have been freed from prison, and decide to team up in order to get sweet revenge on the wall crawler. However, they must learn to contend with the power of the symbiote suit that is growing ever more attatched to our hero. Unbeknownst to Peter, Aunt May suffers a heart attack in the middle of a fight between the six and Spidey in Time Square. Elsewhere, Eddie’s begun his own agenda by taking Mary Jane for a ride… 


LONG STORY SHORT: The symbiote acts of its own volition and beats the Sinister Six while using Peter’s body. Peter wakes up the next day with no recollection of the fight, but not only learns of the previous night’s action but that also his aunt is in the hospital. 

MY THOUGHTS: This is a difficult episode to review, because it continues the symbiote saga as well as continuing to establish the tropes of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, such as the popular Sinister Six Team. These last few episodes are also the ones I’ve seen the most incidently enough, and so to gather one’s thoughts can be a tricky thing when one has never really given much thought to something before. This episode is a lot like the last one, where the main plot of the alien symbiote is forced to be paired with the formation of the Sinister Six. Fortunately, this episode was more focuse on developing the symbiote storyline, and the Six served to really bring it out..or did they?

"Become one with the suit..."

“Become one with the suit…”







First and foremost, the animation in this episode was amazing. It just was incredible. It was clear that they saved their best animators for the episode with the biggest action scene in the season, and they really delivered because the fight in the third act is THE BEST fight in the season, bar none. And thats saying something for a show with generally great animation and fight sequences. But with as many opponents, and an arena such as the park this episode’s third act was so entertaining I can never get tired of watching it. You can almost feel the excitement as soon as “Spider-Man” wakes up and confronts the Six at the park. Storyboarding was great as well. Every character’s abilites were played to their strengths, and I didn’t feel that any of the Six fought stupidly, as in weren’t trying their best to kill Spider-Man. At the same time, this episode showed that pretty much every member except Doc Ock are a bunch of morons after seeing how “Spider-Man” punked them pretty easily after a while. When he webs Shocker and Electro’s feet and they just look down, you can feel the show saying w/o actually saying “idiots”. It made it all the better for Doc Ock to be the one to wait it out until he was the last member still on his feet, or rather, arms. Without being on screen to actually see him, you know that at some point he said “Nuts to this” and just sat back and watched “Spidey” and the rest of the Six beat the crap out of each other. It was all together such an awesome fight sequence.

However, when watching the fight I couldn’t help but try to draw comparisions with the 90s Spider-Man cartoon and how it portrayed Peter with the symbiote fighting. I know I mention that show pretty much all the time, but if there was ever a story element to compare the two, its definetly the Symbiote Saga. And its not like the shows did similar portrayals of Peter with the suit on. Quite the opposite, which is why I’m comparing. Both versions had the suit gradually affect Peter’s personality, but the 90s version had it happen a lot quicker than this version did. Peter’s not really doing anything out of character, and doesn’t until the next episode. (spoilers btw) The suit does nearly murder Doc Ock, but thats one instance. Its a very gradual process, which I both like and found odd. The first time I watched this episode I assumed the second the suit got up to fight the Sinister Six (because it was bloody obvious what was going on), it would systematically beat the members of the Six within an inch of their lives. But up until the very end, it really didn’t fight all that differently than Peter would have fought had he been concious. I half expected him to yank Doc Ock’s arms out and beat him with them or something. Is it because Peter’s younger than the 90s version that the suit couldn’t act out any tendencies of violence that he didn’t have at this point in his life? Because otherwise, the show makes you believe that the suit is acting completely on its own and only using Peter’s super powers. Does the suit grow more and more evil the longer it stays attatched to the host? Who knows..the symbiote in this version actually raises a lot of questions which I’ll definetly cover by episode 13. I did like the gradual darkening of Spider-Man’s costume, where it was half black, half web-covered. Mostly because I utterly hated it when I first saw the costume look exactly like it did in Spider-Man 3. But the design sells the idea that its slowly taking over his body, and I love that.  



"Rhino, would you lead us in saying grace please?"

“Rhino, would you lead us in saying grace please?”









 Now getting back to the Sinister Six, I have to say I virtually have no complaints with how they were handled here. Okay, maybe one complaint. Lemme get this straight, a psychotic electrician who’s surged with hundreds upon thousands of supervolts is not only set free after threatening to kill people, but they don’t put him back in the hospital? Okay, I can actually buy that they let him go since he did sort of lose his mind after his ordeal. But he still wants to be cured of his affliction, he even says it at the dinner scene. Why didn’t they just put him back at the hospital, or ship him somewhere where he could get even better help? “Bye Max, take care. Hey, maybe we can catch a movie sometime! Oh wait, your still being constantly electrocuted aren’t you? Huh.” Come on, Ashley. Maybe he told them that he got help when he may have meant Doctor Octopus, but you’d think background checks still exist in Marvel-Land. I mean, this is a special case, and they just let him go and forget about it. Eh, that annoyed me.

Otherwise, I still liked the Sinister Six. The best part about them was that even though they all had their own agenda besides killing Spider-Man, they didn’t let that mess them up when they were fighting him. Finally, credible bad guy team work. Even though these guys are dopes, they aren’t complete numbskulls. What I also liked is how menacing Doc Ock was in this. He seemed to be even colder than his last appearance, despite letting two elderly women flee from the fight in Time Square, which I also liked. Its always fun to see Doc Ock/Aunt May interactions. As long as they don’t go the Gerry Conway route and try to get married..


.....Oh, I get it

 Now the Eddie thing had some viewers bugged in how he went from p’oed to diabolically insane in the space of two scenes. And those people do have a point. It was funny to see Eddie start going into a monologue while seemingly try to, for all we know, kill Mary Jane. Think about it. What was he trying to do? He thought she was his girlfriend, and he mentioned taking away someone Peter cared about. 

“I was over the whole Lizard thing, but this is who you are Pete. A user. You do what gets you ahead, even if it hurts the people you claim are your friends. What you need is a taste of your own medicine. Have somebody you care about taken away. Trouble is, I’m not sure you care about anything.” what Brock does next, basically kidnap Mary Jane. Obviously, this is hypocrisy on his part. So does that make him a villain? We can understand his anger and frustration at Peter, but to go to such lengths to make a point seems rather harsh. More on that later..  


"Heyy, how'd he get in there?"

There were a number of freeze frame gags that were scattered all over this episode. Most obvious is the “Jazzy Gianni” theater. (U c wat they did thar) But the ones where you truly needed to freeze frame were visible in the panoramic shot going downstairs to the phone for Anna Watson’s recording. There were a number of family pictures on the walls, with the ones along the staircase of a young Peter, Ben and May, and all three of them. Others included Peter as a baby and a grade-school Peter, both with Richard and Mary Parker. Catch ’em if you can, they are fun to spot. Specifically seeing how much Peter tends to always look like his father. Last thing worth mentioning is that when Peter sees the newspaper with the photo of him fighting the Sinister Six, notice how he looks to the left when “he” decides to forget the revelation that the suit used his body and refers to himself in the third person. This is very subtle, but when his dark mindset begins its narration, the shadow on his face comes from the left side. Also, Peter’s eyes dart to his left side, followed by his face turing to his left. In many cultures, the left side is traditionally seen as against order, evil or unatural. (Also, think of Two-Face) Its subtle, but its there, which works very well. What does NOT work well is the late animation to Peter’s facial reaction after MJ tells him about Aunt May. He doesn’t seem to care that she had a heart attack, but freaks when he finds out that she’s currently in the hospital. Ugh, that needed a re-take. Overall, I felt that the attention to the symbiote being more prevalent to the overall plot made this a stronger episode than the last one. The animation was nearly perfect, and there was lots of action and suspense. But can the season end on a high note with the ever approaching Venom?… 4.5/5 webs *Best Line Contender- Spider-Man: “Only six huh? Wt happened, Lizard and Goblin have Knix tickets?”  "Aunt May had a heart attack? Oh, is that all? Wait, she's in the hospital? OH NOES!!"

 All images taken from Toonzone.net