1994 Spider-Man #22-“Blade, The Vampire Hunter” Review


While Spider-Man may have turned back into his human self, he’s still not cured. Fortunately in the hunt for Morbius, Spidey’s got a new guest star to help him out in Blade! Credits
Written By: Stephanie Mathison, Mark Hoffmeier & John Semper
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)


THE PLOT: While on the hunt for Morbius, Spidey is accosted by Eric Brooks, a.k.a. Blade the Vampire Hunter. The two tussle throughout the night while Morbius decides to steal the Neogenic Recombinator in order to create an army of vampires!

LONG STORY SHORT: Spidey nearly captures Morbius due to mixing his webbing formula with some of Blade’s chemical compounds. The two form an uneasy alliance in order to bring Morbius’ reign of terror to an end.  

 

 MY THOUGHTS: Lame. Weak. That’s the immediate summary of the content of this episode. As both feared by me and commented on by a fellow reviewer for the website, this is where the Neogenic Nightmare saga starts to lose it’s way. What’s honestly striking about it is how the general premise is still strong within the season. Morbius is still on the loose and Spider-Man must now clear his name. Blade’s introduction in the show is also very logical considering that the Vampire threat has escalated in past episodes. I also really like how the story continues to pace itself out throughout several episodes akin to the comics, and in a show where the pacing could be easy pickings, that’s certainly not it’s problem.

But the episode loses its way entirely in the execution. There’s really not much to discuss besides the basics due to the linearity of the plot.

Blade runs into Spider-Man and Morbius. They fight.

 Blade runs into Spider-Man and Morbius again. They fight.

 Spider-Man meets Whistler and learns with the audience about Blade’s origin.

 Spider-Man and Blade fight Morbius a third time. Spider-Man and Blade team up.

TO BE CONTINUED TRUE BELIEVER!

Granted we do learn that Spider-Man now needs a rejuvination of Neogenic rays every 24 hours, (which bothers me) but the gist of this episode is so simple and the execution is incredibly uninspired.

“Whoops. Originally had it set on ‘GOLDFINGER DEATH-TRAP'”

Probably the most notable aspect in this episode that people tend to slap onto the entire series as a whole is the really weak animation that is hindered even further by the gratuitous use of repeated stock footage. Although the show has made its use of stock footage known throughout the season, I feel it’s really here where it’s just gone way too far and over the top. I counted, there were nineteen specific instances that I recognized where the footage was repeated from past episodes. Some were more blatent than others where the backgrounds are clearly from another area entirely, while some just do not make any sense at all. One scene in particular is Morbius’s face gurning at the camera. That’s done at least three or four times for no apparent reason at all, even in the re-cap. It’s really very bad.

Speaking of the re-cap, this one as usual is horrible. Understandably the entire three part transformation storyline is cut out to get viewers up to date on the context of this episode. That’s fine. But it also starts a horribly stupid trend of horrible lip-synching and stilted dialogue. This occurs in EVERY SINGLE SCENE in the episode. Either the lip-synching is down right off by a country mile, or the spoken dialogue is cut before the voice actors can even finish their sentences. It happens at the very beginning with CDB’s “Previously, on ‘Spider-Man'”..!” sounding like “PreviouslONSpid-Man”. And that’s not a typo. It’s as if they cut out actual seconds of his speech.

Why?

As I say, it’d all throughout the episode. Not in every line of dialogue in the voice acting is sped up or altered, but the lip-synching is certainly inconsistant. I understand that this show was really cursed with animation and scheduling difficulites, and John Semper’s gone on record to be really infuriated by the end result, but it has to be seen as it is.

 

 Now Blade is obviously another cut-throat character the show had to try and water down for child audiences, but what must be kept in mind is that this episode premiered years before the Wesley Snipes trilogy ever hit the big-screen. This was based purely on the comic book version at the time, and I personally thought it worked very well. What the ’94 Spider-Man series did well was introduce characters from the comics through guest spots but not characters easy to rely on. Characters like the Punisher, Nick Fury, Blade and Dr. Strange were not in the public eye at the time and I felt for the most part this show did them justice. What’s interesting to note though is that the character of Whistler is not from the comics, but created for the movie by David Goyer. This makes…no sense because as stated before this episode premiered three years before the Blade movie, but the internet can only research so much. In any case, it’s hard to fully differentiate the personalities of these two characters and the Punisher and Microchip in the last two episodes, although Whistler is a lot cooler than that nancy-boy Microship who by all rights should not be working with Frank Castle in this incarnation.

But back to Blade, this show makes no bones about the fact that he kills vampires dead no matter what and it shows him try several times against Morbius. So in my humble opinion, the spirit of the character was kept intact. But therein lies another problem with this episode’s execution.

The action. Granted this show was censored worse than Dragon Ball Z’s Ocean dub, but even still the action is pitiful throughout this episode. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of fight scenes, but they all consist of the same generic fighting move: grabbing a guy by the top of the shoulders and throwing him around. If they wanted to make that any bit exciting, just grab the guy by the collar or arm. The fight scenes looked so weak when every single time either Blade or Morbius did the same lame trick.

Even worse were the scenes where Morbius threw a brick at Blade’s ultra-violet sun lamps, only for the glass to not break but for the light to shut off. That was lame. Blade hanging from the edge of a smoke stack and Morbuis taking the time to gently remove his hands with his own hands rather than stomping on the guy was stupid. This entire episode is like Mortal Kombat being fought inside a Marshmallow factory. It’s just weak and lame all throughout.

Even dumber were the scenes of exposition. The Connors scene with him expositing “It’s too bad that Dr. Crawford had to go back to Africa to fight that plague…” was so ineptly written, it was untrue. Thinking back, she did say in a past episode she had only three days to stay in New York, but surely that could have been brought up and written better. But what really sinks this episode is the awful exposition of Morbius suddenly deciding to remain a vampire. If this is how the character was meant to be handled, why weren’t we shown scenes of him making this decision on his own during the Man-Spider arc? He was appropriately  kept to the back burner but was still a player in those episodes, so there was just enough room for his heel-turn. Instead, in one episode we get him trying to cure himself and another he says he woke up one day and thought “Actually, this is kind of cool. I think I’ll stay like this and create an army of vampires. Yeah, lemme write that down on my ‘To-Do’ list.” Are you kidding me? Four episodes of “Woe-is-me” Morbius, and all of a sudden he wants to remain a vampire out of nowhere?

That is easily the most miserable part of this episode, the fact that the entire running subplot gets turned on its ear for no apparent reason. I will say that I liked the ending with the music ramping up as Blade and Spidey join forces and Blade’s last line, but it doesn’t really save the episode. The whole thing plays like one big slumber party in its effectiveness for drama, and it’s almost as bad as the first seasons of Iron Man and Fantastic Four. This show is better in quality compared to those shows, yet this episode is not a very good example of it. Not at all.

2/5 “FELICIAAAAAA”s

Best Quote Contender-

Spider-Man: “Spidey’s first rule of Vampire Hunting, never let them see you sweat.”

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

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