Spectacular Spider-Man: the animated series #19-“Growing Pains” Review

growingpains When Venom’s wrecking havoc and setting Spidey up for crimes he didn’t commit, there’s only one man to turn to…Colonel Jameson in a flight suit?

Written By Nicole Dubac
Directed By Mike Goguen
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Moi Animation

THE PLOT: Venom starts posing as Spider-Man to ruin Peter’s masked reputation. As that happens, John Jameson is revealed to be mutating into a giant super-strong behemoth who at the behest of his father decides to bring Spider-Man in. At Midtown High, Gwen agrees to start dating Harry.


LONG STORY SHORT: Spidey manages to de-power Jameson at the cost of his sanity, and Jameson is left raving at Ravencroft. At the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah is fuming at what happened to his son when Venom bursts through the window and reveales that Peter Parker is Spider-Man!


VENOM: from Lethal Protector to selfish opportunist

 MY THOUGHTS: While at first seemingly scraping at the bottom of the barrel of the Spider-Man rogues gallery, this episode manages to once again be very remniscent to the comic books it takes after. Most of the “Colonel Jupiter” storyline is adapted almost to the “T” from the original issue. But that only serves as the distraction, while the real story builds up in the background as Venom continues to drive Peter crazy by framing him and threatening him when he least expects it. Those main two elements make up for, yet again, another solid episode.

First off, the way Venom goes about destroying Spider-Man’s reputation is brilliant. Upon seeing it, I immediately wondered why he never tried to pose as Spider-Man in attempts to ruin his reputation before in the comics. I was then reminded that Venom in the comics was a bit of a tool and didn’t want any other villains horning in on Spider-Man’s carcass. That works for that version, but this Venom doesn’t have the moral quandries that his original character did so he can get away with being more ruthless. If Aunt May ends up killed because of it, who cares? It’ll just end up hurting Peter more. The thing about this though is that it goes back to my problem with exactly what Venom’s personality is. Okay, he obviously hates Spider-Man and wants him dead. Then what? Yeah, villains tend to never see the bigger picture, but again Eddie was given significant character development before he became Venom so wouldn’t that warrent further examination into his motives? Because really, his hate for Peter, intense as it may be, is not so different from the Rhino’s hate for him or Doc Ock’s hate for him. He may hate him more, but it’s not at a different level. And it needs to be because both Peter and Eddie have a personal history. There needs to be more to the plan than “Kill Spider-Man. Kill him dead.” More on that next episode.





Stupid costume, right? Well, Ditko loves green...



As I said, much of the John Jameson plot was adapted nearly verbatim from the original comic. Its interesting because John Jameson seems to be more well known as the Wolf-Man that he eventually turns into. I’m not opposed to using the Jupiter spores storyline, in fact I was for it. But I was curious why the story immediately jumped into that part of the story head-first without even a remote background. For those who haven’t seen this episode, after the cold opening which showcases Venom and the opening credits, we’re immediately shown John Jameson yelling at ESU Labs that “It’s happening again!” I can understand there not being much time for exposition, but it still rang odd to me. That was one of the several things in this episode that felt a little off here or there. Some things in this episode didn’t really make any sense, and while some I can forgive (because hey, it’s a cartoon) others were really weird. Like Connors just happened to have that containment suit in his office for just such an occasion? Flash can snap his fingers, and random cheerleaders will start singing his praises like they’re in a Disney movie? (Specifically Beauty and the Beast. GASTON!) Why were all of the school characters auditioning for the school play? Obviously, Mary Jane should be since that’s the entire reason she transferred to the school. But Sally? Kong? Why would they care? It felt a little convenient to have every teenage supporting character say the lines from the play to coincide with the action. Frankly, I thought that gag rang a little self-indulgent. Finally, if Flash set off Peter’s Spider-Sense then would Peter be hurt by his tackle? I know in the comics that anything directed at him which could be potentially harmful sets his Spider-Sense off, but this is the same show that for some reason Kraven never even registers despite handing him a beating.

Although I must say one of the better aspects of this story was how logic was being placed here and there throughout. For example, the reason that John starts to doubt Spider-Man’s innocence was very well given in how it played out. From his point of view, you really couldn’t blame the guy for doubting him. I also like Gwen reluctantly agreeing to go out with Harry. You can tell that she just does not feel the same way that he may feel about her, but she’s had enough of Peter’s crap to stomach sitting on the sidelines anymore. It’s ironic because the very reason she refused to go with Peter, basically settling for second place, is the reason she’s going with Harry. It’s a contradiction but everyone, especially angsty teenagers contradict themselves all the time. It was really subtle, but felt intentional.

Like a dog's head through a window, Brock is wallowing in his own crapulence.

 Another added bonus this episode gives us is that it features JJ pretty prominently. He’s always been in the show fairly consistently, but tends to take the background in favor of most of the high school scenes. Honestly in this day and age it makes more sense that school would take up a teenager’s mind more than work would, but you can’t leave out Jameson for too long. He’s an integral character, and specifically in the Ditko days he was frequently seen. In this show I really like the scenes where he’s shown as an always thinking paperman, talking business to Robbie and even Peter. So I liked the scene in the taxi when he was coming up with the idea that John should tackle Spider-Man. The scene at the end when John goes insane was pretty unexpected and very sad. It made you feel for JJ seeing as how it was his idea for John to hunt Spider-Man in the beginning even though John thought that was a stupid idea himself. Of course, the old blowhard will blame Spider-Man for what happened but it was all really good drama and made way for an excellent surprise ending.

Speaking about the way in which Peter beat John, there’s really no reason why John shouldn’t be dead. Spidey blasts him with, what was it, 200 MILLION volts of electricity? He also said that it was Connor’s suggestion that electrcity got rid of the spore cells in the first place, so why didn’t Connors try that before? That’s really the main thing about the episode that I can’t get past, because as soon as Connors mentions that electricity destroyed the spores, anyone in the room be it Gwen, Jameson, Peter or even John himself could’ve suggested it. It’s an incredibly easy solution, and Connors could’ve come up with a way in which it would’ve been safer to do so instead of blasting him all to hell like Peter did. I also felt that Peter should’ve felt some guilt in what happened to Jameson afterwards, but his mind was too focused on Venom. I just feel like it would have been more fitting for him to be worrying about several things at once than “Well, electricity certainly solved my problem! Now wehere’s Eddie…?” I mean, we see John’s heart rate flatline after he gets shocked. Not only should he have been dead but Peter should have believed he was dead.


But again, the negatives were off-set with some positives. The animation done by MOI was once again very nice throughout. The ending I felt built upon the last episode’s ending and delivered in topping it. It’s everything Venom said he was going to do, as he confronts Spider-Man’s #1 enemy and reveals his identity. So many villains should’ve done that a long time ago…

4/5 webs

*Best Line Contender- Jameson: ” You hear about this..’Colonel Jupiter’?”

Captain Stacy: “You mean, your son?”

Jameson: “Well thats beside the point! What’s the point? Here’s the point!”

All images taken from marvel.toonzone.net

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