1994 Spider-Man episode #3: “Return of the Spider-Slayers” Review


Spidey has a heckuva night ahead of him. He’s gotta handle saving the people who hate him from three giant killer robots, while being handcuffed to Jonah Jameson, all before his blind date. No problemo, right?

Credits
Story By: John Semper
Written By: Mark Hoffmeier
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi

THE PLOT: Alastair Smythe, the shakespearian-sounding son of the late Spencer Smythe, vows revenge against the people who wronged him. In the months that followed the previous episode, Smyhte has re-fitted super spider slayers and intends to kill everyone he deems responsible for his father’s fate. Guess whose up first on the hit list?

Long Story Short: Spidey manages to free himself from a humiliating death, save the people Smythe tried to destroy, and be home in time to meet the ginger-next-door Mary Jane Watson. All in a super hero’s night’s work.  

 
 

 

 

Not many people can pull off a purple turtle neck with a white suit, but I gotta say…

MY THOUGHTS: Man, this was a fun episode. It’s pretty straightforward, and again it may be nostalgia clouding my judgement, but this was just fun to watch from beginning to end. It’s practically the same plot as the previous episode, with Alastair Smythe being a mad antagonist whereas his father was a reluctant one, and the targets including the supporting players instead of just Spidey. But in a total opposite shift, this one felt more focused and knew what it was going for. As said before, it was not very complex. The plot borrows from the comics in that it told the final tale of the crazy Spencer Smythe trapping Spider-Man and Jameson together with a bomb. Whilst that was a classic tale worth re-telling, this episode truly begins the series’ love affair with robots in that they randomly appear wherever the plot needs them to be. I mean, what the heck were those “helidrones” and robot tanks at Oscorp Industries anyway? How can the Tarantuala Slayer enter a newspaper building, despite it clearly being bigger than the Black Widow Slayer, which was already the size of a small house? Who cares? The mere fact that they exist can bring one to chuckling, as it was the 90s. It’s giant robots blowing stuff up. Its dumb, its wacky, but it’s awesome. Just sit back and enjoy it.

What really makes this episode stand out for me is the fantastic scene where Smythe has Spider-Man and Jameson in his Chrysler building lair. This is one of the greatest scenes in the show, in my opinion. Why? Spider-Man is just ON with his quippage and jokes. Pretty much 90% of his great lines come from this sequence, and CDB’s delivery was so spot on. Literally four consecutive notes I had written down were describing how awesome Spidey was as he just insulted the crap outta both Jameson and Smythe, especially when it was rather dumb to do so. It’s a very James Bond-esque type of behavior to insult the bad guy when he could easily shut the good guy up by killing him since he has the good guy in his clutches in the first place. At the same time, Spider-Man usually spouts jokes when he’s most afraid, and being kidnapped and having a bomb strapped to you wrist is clearly not a situation he’s been in before. The normality of the guy is prefaced shortly at the start of the scene where Smythe comments on the unconcious Spider-Man, “He looks rather tame for a super hero.” This is also where JJJ comes into his own, being stuck to the man he’s hated for years and not holding back at how ridiculous he can be around him. Both Jameson and Spidey may come off a insolent sounding children in this scene to some people, but that’s what makes it so great. It’s a terrific compliment to Smythe’s machiavellian turn as a super villain, with his diabolical machinery and sinister plots of murder. It would be really stupid if it weren’t for the fact that Edward Mulhare does a wonderful job as Alastair Smythe. In the last episode, he was very good at portraying a young man watching his father destory himself for his son’s sake and the human reactions at witnessing such a breakdown. His villainy isn’t really all that contrived. Sure, it’s a bit unexpected given that he displayed no overt mania in the first part. But the expository line given by Spidey in that six months have passed since he first beat the Black Widow not only settles on how Smythe could crack out these babies on the fly, but how insane he’s grown in the aforementioned timespan. Really, the scene only has three characters and makes use of every second. It’s awesome.

 

 This episode also did well in that it included all of the characters from the last episode, but their roles all made sense and didn’t clash with the story. Well actually, Smythe’s reasoning for targeting Jameson is a bit nonsensical. He went after him because of his feud with Spider-Man…really? Smythe has a feud with Spider-man, why not do as JJ suggested and attach himself to a bomb based off that reasoning. Smythe had never even met Jameson before this episode, when he had with everyone else. Really, the obvious reason to include JJ was to fully carry out the reference to the comic’s orginal story and honestly it doesn’t hurt the episode. It’s just funny to notice the bad reasoning.

The other characters are truly in the space they need to be. Flash, one scene. Brock, one scene. Osborn, a couple very short scenes but they lead into the episode’s climax. Even Harry and Felicia’s brief appearances felt welcome. Harry’s especially, since it’s setting up the Hobgoblin two-parter but it’s being used in a way that doesn’t feel like set-up.

One thing I must say is that for all the really good lines in this episode, this wasn’t wanting of bad ones either. The dialogue in the first part where Spidey is taking on the Slayers on the streets before he gets captured and some more of it throughout the episode is pretty lame. “Time to give this act the hook!” Ehh…if nothing else it sounded like Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Before the boss gets another guy to do the reviews in retaliation for that sentence, what I mean by that is the fact that this show is very clearly trying to establish its own style and attitude. You can feel it 24/7, from the designs, to the style and atmosphere to the 3-D backgrounds and the music. With the quotes generally being good throughout, I’d have figured the bad ones would’ve been caught by the producers or directors. It didn’t hurt the episode, but at the same time in a 22 minute show it can take up space. An instance of this is the scene where Spider-Man saves the puppy from the Black Widow. That took up about 12-15 seconds and added nothing to the story. Compare that to the scene in “The Invisible Hand” from Spectacular Spider-Man where Spidey quickly saves the mother from falling debris in his battle against the Rhino. That added a character moment for Spidey while establishing the Rhino’s power. Here, the puppy runs in front of the Black Widow, barks while it stares at the puppy, and Spider-man pushes them into the nearby building telling them to run. To make that scene worth something, he could’ve been captured while getting the puppy out of harm’s way and not immediately after. It’s the little things that indeed add or detract from a story, whether its good or bad.

If ever there needed an image for an “OH CRAP” demotivational picture…

The animation was still pretty good compared to what’s going to happen to it later down the line. It was better than the previous episode, a mix between the first ans second’s quality. Some scenes were clearly given more attention than others, such as the quick shot of Osborn driving, the finishing details Smythe gives the Scorpion Slayer, and Spidey in the exposed part of Oscorp where he finds the liquid oxygen. This was also the first episode where the primary action took place at night outdoors, so the animation ended up looking even better than it probably would’ve.

The final important thing of note is the first appearance of Mary Jane Watson, and despite the former assertations of my esteemed Spectacular Webs co-host, this is the first time it has been done in a manner similar to the original ASM #42 comic ending. It’s interesting because the airings of these episodes are fairly wonky. The Scorpion episode is listed by Marvel to have come next, yet in that one Mary Jane is still being teased at to the audience. Whatever. As for the scene itself, I must admit that I’m not as big a fan of Sara Ballentine’s Ms. Watson as I am of Vanessa Marshall’s “Hooker voice-sounding” Ms. Watson, (Cushing lol) but I have to admit she sounded better than I remember at the end of this episode. Her voice wasn’t as high pitched, and it served the line well. It was also good because the final scene is the first time you see Peter out of the costume in the entire episode, in an episode where he gets blasted at by giant robots. Its very fitting because the guy certainly could use some cheering up in a hot red-head with lucious cowboy boots and a scintillating yellow sweater.

Overall this wasn’t spotless, as some goofy line and situations occured. But this is nevertheless is very fun, nearly mindless action episode with some great character bits and solid animation throughout.

4 MARY JAAANE!!!’s/5

Best Line Contender-

 *Bomb is brought to Spidey and JJ to be attatched*

Spidey: “No no, take it back! It clashes with the colors of my costume!”

all images taken from marvel.toonzone.net

 

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