Spectacular Spider-Man: the animated series #23-“Gangland” Review

Gangland New York State of Mind! The gangwar that’s been slowly tearing away at the city comes to a head on Valentine’s Day when Doc Ock, a newly released Silvermane and Tombstone go head to head with each other, and then of course eventually Spider-Man. Will Peter live to see his PO’ed girlfriend Liz again?

Written By Andrew Robinson
Directed By Jennifer Coyle
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion
Animation By Dongwoo animation

THE PLOT: It’s Valentine’s Day and the students of Midtown Magnet, who can’t bear to go anywhere without running into each other, all meet at Jazz Gianni’s with hilarious hijinks, flirtations galore, and a hot looking Gwen Stacy. However the night’s just beginning for Peter, who must head over to the opera theatre to stop the crime lords from killing everyone, even themselves!

LONG STORY SHORT: Manages to take down the three main villains but fails to capture the real mastermind, who’s revealed to be the Green Goblin back in action. He does return to the Allen’s residence where Mark forbids Peter from seeing his younger sister due to his obvious drooling of his best friend’s girlfriend.

Pff! They really dressed like that?

The conclusion to the Gangwar arc, and after being less than enamored with the previous two outings, this episode puts those to shame. I thoroughly enjoyed this one from start to finish, as it included everything I was hoping to see from a third part finisher. Great action, great humor, honest human dilemmas, classic soap opera romance, and unexpected twists. I don’t know exactly why the previous two episodes felt like complete one offs, especially the last episode. But this was another wonderful example of doing Spider-Man and his world right.

This wasn’t perfect however, and while the little complaints I have are fairly minor, they still kind of nag at me even now. They aren’t many so I’ll jump right into them. First and foremost, where the heck did Silvermane get that super armor? Nitpicking I know, but I assume that his daughter created all of her technology or was uding the last of his resources before he went off to prison. He gets out, and immediately has access to super armor? It’s not just the fact that he has it, but it seems like it goes against his methology towards controlling his crime empire in the city. The conflict between the three main crime heads is that Silvermane represents the old-school mafia (or Maggia for all you Marvel Zombies out there), Tombstone’s the up and coming new millenium crime boss, and Dr. Octopus represents the “freak” side; the super villains. I could see Tombstone using that type of armor if he felt he had to, but it didn’t quite ring true for what little we’re informed of Silvermane’s character. Finally, Silvermane’s clearly younger and more full of life than his old comic book counterpart. The reason for the armor in the comics was to compensate  for his old age. Fair enough. Using the armor here feels excessive in this context where Silvermane is used as just an old crime boss and not an aging crime boss. The character is very different, so going back to old comic book tropes changes the meaning entirely.


"I knew if we followed you and your friends, you'd lead us to a fancy restaurant!"

 That’s really my biggest thing against the episode. There are other little things that come up here and there life the continuing trend of every main school character being at the right place at the right time, and the strange fact that despite Tombstone calling out Hammerhead in front of Captain Stacy, none of the cops have the thought process of at the very least QUESTIONING HIM. But whatever, the pros outweight the cons. The first thing I caught was a very subtle nod to the comics when Harry and Peter are waiting for Mary Jane and Gwen. It reminded me of Amazing Spider-Man #47 where Peter and Harry pick up Mary Jane and Gwen, who still look great. That probably wasn’t intentional, but I liked it nonetheless. There’s also the fact that we see for the first time the hot, John Romita-esque design of Gwen Stacy as she lets her hair down, combs it, ditches the sweater and glasses and wows Peter to no end. I really liked this aspect of the story because Peter can’t help but compliment Gwen on her looks and unwittingly infuriates Liz. Its really sad to see Liz who hasn’t done anything wrong get the shaft here, but we all knew it was bound to happen sometime. And with Gwen looking the way she did, Liz unfortunately had no chance. Hey, there’s always Harry!


Drawing attention to her won't chnage the fact that your suit's way too big on you, Harry.


The Flash/Sha Shan subplot also gets resolved here, and thank God because that was really getting tiresome. It was funny seeing Flash at the mercy of both Peter and then Kong, but his lines to Sha Shan at the end was really a good bit of character. It was great voice acting from Josh LeBar, and once again we see the lovable lug beneath the football star. We also get a continuing subplot of the Mary Jane/Mark Allen dynamic which is interesting in that its rounds out teenage romance in all its forms. We have the love triangle, or sextet with Peter/Liz/Gwen and Peter/Gwen/Harry, we have the hopeless romantic in Flash and we have the rojo caliente flirtations between MJ and Mark. Even the voiceless Hobie Brown appeared to be with his classic girlfriend from the comics Mindy. So its a doubly sad scene for Liz Allen, and with the next episode its not going to get any better. Poor Liz.


playinggotcha On the villains side of things, we finally see Hammerhead man up and break off from Tombstone. I imagine that his sycophant bootlicking of The Big Man in every one of his appearances was all meant to build towards this episode, and if that’s the case then it really pays off. Hammerhead shows a cool calm that is usually found in Tombstone, and the scene where he walks out of Silver Sable when she has him at gunpoint is awesome. I look forward to seeing Hammerhead being his own man in future appearances. The battle betwen the main three villains was a great way to start the episode. Exactly why Doc Ock thought Dracula-wear was in vogue I have no idea, but almost every Doc Ock episode, complete with a Peter McNicol performance, is a keeper. I had a fun time seeing him beat up on Tombstone, who reached his lowest point being outed in front of the public and beaten up by Spider-Man. I also like the fact that he managed to make bail but his life is now ruined. This leads for an awesome reappearance down the road.

This is an episode which showcases pretty much nearly all of the main cast of characters, and it wouldn’t be complete without meantioning Jameson. I don’t know exactly why his wife was named Joan and not Marla (LIKE IT IS IN THE COMICS NYAH!) but it’s always fun to see cantankerous old JJ being whipped around by his wife. I also liked he seething rage at the fact that Spider-Man wasn’t arrested after what happened to his son. Another great bit of voice acting by Daran Norris.

On the technical side, the animation was very solid throughout. But what really shines is the musical score which takes from an actual opera if I understand correctly. It could have been cheesy, but I felt it worked in the sense of the heavy drama and the action  packed villainy going on screen. It particularly worked in the sewer fight between Spidey, Tombstone and Doc Ock. What I thought was going to happen though was Captain Stacy buying the farm near the end of the third act. You had this dramatic music, Doc Ock causing a ruckus and two kids running around. I honestly thought he was going to die, but I guess I was wrong.


Again, I really enjoyed this from start to finish. This blew the whole gangwar storyline out of the water from where it was previously in a puddle.

4.5/5 webs

*Best Line Contender-Flash: “Kay Parker, here’s the deal. You need to make sure I don’t say nothin’ that makes Sha Shan think I’m stupid.

Peter: “Uh dude…ship. Sailed.

Flash: “SHUT UP!!!”

all images from marvel.toonzone.net

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