1994 Spider-Man #15: “Battle of the Insidious Six” Review


It’s a mad free-for-all battle royal as a powerless, unmasked Spider-Man goes up against his deadliest foes! Get it right…the INSIDIOUS Six!

Credits
Story By: John Semper
Written By: Doug Booth
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)

THE PLOT: Immediately unmasked by Doctor Octopus, Peter’s assumes the identity of a normal, concerned nephew trying to save his aunt. He’ll have to use that cover to the utmost effect if he’s to save both Aunt May and Silvermaine from the Insidious Six and Kingpin!

LONG STORY SHORT: Peter’s powers eventually return and he uses the foibles of the individual members of the six against one another. He saves Silvermaine, never knowing that the man is indeed a dangerous gang lord. 

 

 

Hey look, Skype in 1995!

MY THOUGHTS: This is a goofy episode. I mean really, goofy as can be. If the last episode began the certain type of persona that this show is known for, this episode cemented it. By no means am I trying to say that this was completely stupid or unenjoyable. It’s just really enjoyable in a fun, specific kind of way. But let’s kick the ballistics here, besides Kingpin, Silvermaine and Doctor Octopus, the rest of the villains might as well be running around poking each other in the eyes and making funny noises. Rhino’s the obvious sort of dolt you’d expect to be played up, but at the same time Shocker, Mysterio, Chameleon and Scorpion all gave me my chuckles as well. Combine their antics with some really nice dialogue and a well animated second half, and this turns out to be unexpected fun. You end up enjoying it, but not in the way you expected to.

Which is odd really, considering how I rated the first part. I liked it a lot despite it’s blatent idiocy. In here, there are some really strange things going on, but it’s as if the episode knows it already and is played really very subtly. That’s weird, and I honestly don’t think that’s the case here. I don’t think this is meant to be a subdued satire of superhero antics; it’s not meant to be satire. At the same time there’s a palpable atmosphere of lunacy that doesn’t overtake the characters but guides the situations they’re in. This is going to prove to be a weird one to explain, so let’s dive into it.

 

For one thing, the animation is wonderfully inconsistent. By that I mean, the first half is laden with decent to mediocre animation with several instances of the dreaded repeated animation creeping in at really inconvinient moments. For instance, in the scene where Silvermaine gives to Kingpin the awesome line of “Not only did you fail to destroy Spider-Man, but instead to kidnap an old lady and strong-arm her weak willed nephew.” Kingpin responds by shutting the monitor off, so Silvermaine can’t see him. He then proceeds to crush a miniature stone statue with his bare hands, and then you see a shot clearly from another episode zoom into the Kingpin as he smiles, pleased with himself. Then you see Silvermaine wince his face in anger, as if in response to this crushed statue that he could not have seen or known of, never mind care about. Then he contacts Hammerhead, as if that’s the continued response. 

If that sounds strange to you, it’s because it is. This makes no sense, but you get the feeling that if the pace were more controlled the scene would make a modicom of more sense. But the show wastes ten seconds doing this. There are more out and out nonsensical instance of this such as Spider-Man doing the incredibly animated acrobatics while dodging Doc Ock’s tentacles, despite having no powers. I know there was a throwaway line of a small amount remaining for that shot, but it was stupid. The last episode established the parameters of Peter’s powers with him losing the strength to webswing anywhere due to the loss of his abilites. No small amount can give him the wherewithal do to the super-agile feats HE CLEARLY DID IN ANOTHER EPISODE that he did here. There’s another weird scene like this that owes its oddness to the animation, but I’ll save that for later.

But this is really where the vindictive complaints end. What follows are reasons why this episode induced in me fits of laughter and gleeful fascination.

The Dressed to impress know Success

One: The world’s oddest gangwar. Nevermind the fact that it included of throwing a man in a rhinoceros costume into the wall of the 15th floor of a building. The whole thing lasted a total of two minutes and consisted of thugs with fedora’s and tommy guns running away without putting up a fight or getting one shot off. With the way Kingpin seemed cautious of Silvermaine and how Silvermaine sounded so cantankerous and determined to kill Fisk, one could make the silly assumption that a serious gang throwdown was going to occur at any second. Nope, not at all, just a lot of running away. It was almost like a Monty Python sketch in how hilariously lame it was.

Two: The portrayal of the villains. As stated before they all shined, but aside from Doc Ock they came off hilariously awesome in their stupidity. Why did Mysterio disguise himself as a tree in the hospital room? To threaten Aunt May? Surely not. Chameleon threatening her through Peter disguised as a nurse was hilarious, and I loved how they found not only a suit and tie for Doc Ock to wear in such short notice, but they found another shady trenchcoat for Peter to wear! Honestly, it made sense why they had him dress up, but you’d think the abandoned area had more clothes to offer than  several trenchcoats. The fact that so many have popped up in this two parter cracks me up, like it’s the trendy thing to wear. What makes it even funnier is that they rightly give Peter gloves to wear over his costume’s gloves (despite the fact that he can just, oh I don’t know, take them off!) but they don’t give him different shoes. His Spider-Man boots stick out clear as day with the web-pattern, and like the Chameleon’s day-glow belt that gives him away, no one pays any attention to it nor does anyone point it out.

This is all the Kingpin’s stupid fault, but the other rogues don’t come off looking real bright either.

Again, HOW DOES THIS MAN SHOWER?!

Three: The action sequences. Of course, they were played up for laughs to a certain extent as much as they were ways for Spidey and Silvermaine to escape the building complex. The scene where Spidey tricks Rhino into attacking Shocker and the Chameleon was great on its own. But I need to call into question the intended dignity of the villains if they’re made out to be so ridiculously beaten. Throughout the entire episode, Chameleon is portrayed as this incredible badass able to fool anyone and quitely chuckling to himself as he gets away with it. Cold and efficient, he’s potentially the most dangerous villain in the show next to Venom. Seeing him get taken out off-screen by the Rhino is both a scene of comeuppance and a scene of ridiculousness. You half expect him to yank out another suitcase rocket launcher and blow Rhino’s face into 2011. Speaking of things that were stupidly awesome, the entire takedown of Shocker never fails to make me laugh for minutes on end. There’s just so many things about it that are funny. For one, Spider-man literally pulls and tosses him out of a window into a water tower below. How’d he know he wouldn’t kill him by doing that? He fell a pretty far way. But the best part is the redonkulousness of Shocker’s quilt suit. For one thing, how is a quilt suit conductive to water and electricity? Wouldn’t it just cause trouble for his shocking gauntlets? Second, if it can blow up WHY WEAR IT ALL THE TIME? Last time we saw Shocker before this he was knocked unconcious by Venom. You telling me there wasn’t a cop that had the brainwave occur to him to take off the mask? Is that a bad-guy only thing, to unmask people? It must be because (and I wish I could find a screenshot of this) to escape a cataclysmic explosion brought on by his suicide suit we see the Shocker heroically leap out of the tower in nothing but his boxers and his mask. Why the heck did leave the mask on? Actually I can maybe sort of buy this considering how Jim Cummings plays him as a stone cold assassin. Smythe did say the gauntlets and the man were brought together seperately. So I guess this version keeps his identity a secret. That still doesn’t explain why he wears it IN PRISON!

I’m still not done with this scene. How did Shocker make it to the top of the water tower before it blew up? How’d he get off the building? How was he not arrested? I did like Spider-Man’s quip after seeing the suit explode. (“Woah! Talk about your flashy outfits!”) It was cheesy, but he earned it. Kingpin seeing this literal nonsense and yelling at the Six made it all even funnier, almost as if he was with the audience in wondering what in the world was going on with that costume.

Four: The voice acting. It was great, all around. A combination of the scripting and the deliveries made this so much fun to watch. Barnes was on fire as always, as were the villains. Mysterio’s goofy laughter as he disguises as a fan was stupidly funny, and the same goes for the Rhino threatening everybody. The line that kills me is in the scene where Kingpin threatens Silvermaine by lowering him via wire pull from his helicopter. As Spider-Man swings towards Silvermaine to save him, Kingpin quips to Smythe who somehow knows how to fly a helicopter all of a sudden. Then they smile at each other oddly for another wasted second of silence. The as Spider-Man swings away with Silvermaine, Kingpin delivers the immortal line “Spider-Man…and Silvermaine…ALLIES?!” It’s all in Roscoe Browne’s delivery that makes it really funny, and again it’s all seemingly unintentional.

All these points were weird enough in their own way to make one just throw his brain in the back seat and enjoy the ride. It helped that the animation became really very good after the second commerical and there was far less repeated animation.

We get more nice usage of the “Parker Luck” and a creepy forshadowing for the events to come from Connors telling Spider-Man his powers will continue to fluctuate, but this as a two parter stands well enough on it’s own. In the comics, Peter’s loss of his powers were a result of serious self-doubt after reflecting on what happened to Uncle Ben. Since this show refrained from referring back to the origin for a long time, this was a good way to introduce their new style of season-long story arcs. The two  parter in and of itself is a nice Spidey adventure that just gets very surreal at certain points, but it’s still a lot of fun. Whether the rest of the season will prove to be as enjoyable is still unknown. Stay tuned for the next episode from the “Neogenic Nightmare”…

4/5 “MARY JAAANE”s

Best Quote Contender:-

Shocker: “Blast you Rhino…the rip in my suit…water’s gettin’ in I’M GONNA BLOW UP!!!”

All images taken from marvel.toonzone.net and drg4.wariocompany.com respectively 

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