1994 Spider-Man episode #33-“Framed” Review

Daredevil graces us with his presence on the 90s Spider-Man show while trying to prove that Peter Parker was framed…by SPIDER-MAN?!

Story By: John Semper and Mark Hoffmeier
Written By: Brook Watchell and Cynthia Harrison
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)

THE PLOT: Peter Parker has been arrested for treason! But unbeknowst to him, the person responisble is his new boss Wilson Fisk a.k.a. the Kingpin! Only one man can help him now, and that man is split into two seperate identites. One is Matthew Murdock, esq. The other is the guardian of Hell’s Kitchen, Daredevil. 

LONG STORY SHORT: Daredevil gets the jump on Spider-Man at Fisk Electronics, blaming him for being in league with Peter’s kidnappers. The two attempt to flee the building as a fire bomb sets off, destroying the evidence that would have exonerated Peter.

MY THOUGHTS: Dude, it’s Daredevil! Daredevil, dude! He’s so fly…

Okay, okay. Get serious Grant. Straight face. Good boy.

*Ahem* I am a Daredevil fan. After Spider-Man, he’s my favorite Marvel Comics character. So having a two-part crossover episode with Spider-Man and Daredevil was always one of my favorite things about the third season of the show. Granted, I’m a fairly recent DD fan, having only seriously gotten into the character about three years ago, but even still as a kid this was always a fun episode to watch. But who cares about me, let’s talk about “Framed”.

This episode starts of very moody, and makes very good use of Peter’s internal monologue which sets the tone for the rest of the episode. It’s remniscent of Peter David’s Spectacular run, at least in the sense that it had Spider-Man being very pensive in his inner thoughts, while being used as a backdrop for the more grittier stories being written at the time. It’s a solid opening which ends with Peter being sprung from the Paddy Wagon by a very obvious Chameleon disguised as Spider-Man. Again, why doesn’t anyone notice that stupid belt?

The episode in it’s entirety is very well paced, with the first half used mostly as a flashback for exposition to explain how Peter got in this mess in the first place. The exposition for the most part is decent enough. It gets troublesome with DD’s origin story later on, but for the first half it was certainly fair game. The best scene was Peter quitting/being fired from the Daily Bugle with Jonah’s outrageous reaction. Ed Asner at his best, this was a highlight of the Jonah moments from this show.

Just your average hot dog vendor in New York.

I do question the immediacy of Peter being arrested for the government defense secrets he supposedly stole, if only for the fact that any simple police department could check and see how short of a time period he had been working at Fisk Electronics. Without having seen the second part in years, I believe it’s brought up and explained thanks to the knowledge that a certain new character whom we’ve never seen or heard of before is suprisingly and shockingly revealed to be a double agent, but at the same time I don’t remember. Here’s hoping it is.

One last thing of note in the first half is that Richard Fisk mentions how ironic that Peter is framed as a traitor after learning about his parents. This was a terrific reference to the backstory that Richard and Mary Parker were spies for the US. Government and framed as traitors, but it was never expanded upon in episode. I don’t believe it is ever brought up again, but if it is it’s probably in season five during the Six Forgotten Warriors saga since there’s a lot of backhistory and spies tossed in that story. This was an example of how good the script was throughout, though there were some aspects of the dialogue that weren’t always as good. I felt Peter’s script in the episode was somewhat bi-polar, with the dialogue at the beginning being pretty solid, but fluctuating throughout. He wasn’t running around saying things to the effect of “Hanging with the Homeboys” but it didn’t have the spark that the next person of discussion’s did. (I did however like the line and delivery of “Thanks Matt…but there’s no rest for Spider-Man.” and the transition from spoken dialogue to inner monologue.)

Radar Sense is basically the use of the Bloody Eye drug from Cowboy Bebop.

 Now if you haven’t seen this episode and are a Daredevil fan, or if you’re not a Daredevil fan and haven’t seen this episode, you really should still see it. His portrayal here was incredible, and as said before I wasn’t a big fan of his as a kid, but this was something that always made me interested to know more about him. This is easily the best crossover in the entire series, with the Punisher in season 2 coming in second place. Of course there’s some bias in making such claims, but look at what we have been given to work with here. We have a character who has an intriguing double identity, powers and abilities, and is the only person in the show capable of helping Spider-Man find the truth. If the show had a “No-Guest Stars” policy, Spider-Man would have been toast by the end of the second act, thereby upping the levels of awesomeness Daredevil frequently accumulates in the comics by having him be our hero’s savior. Credit also goes towards the portrayal of his powers. The action scenes were honestly some of the best because Daredevil could actually hit people! He didn’t haul off and slug someone square in the face, but you could see some literal fighting going on, and with DD taking on ten guys at once, it all serves as a fantastic introduction for the character to new audiences. The Radar Sense may have been confusing to people at first, but in one of the episode’s best scenes Daredevil has to explain to Peter as he’s freeing him form the warehouse the exact number of guards left and describes them in a way only he can, with descriptions of heart and breathing rates. Seeing the guy run in front of a billboard and two goons go right through it is awesome as well.

Another thing is the voice acting, and Edward Albert does an excellent job as Matt Murdock/Daredevil. It’s probably a bit deeper than most people would imagine, but at the same time it was a very well done performance helped by giving Albert much to work with. Matt/Daredevil had the best lines in the episode, and if Ed Albert were any less of an actor or the lines were a bit cheesier or not as strong, it wouldn’t have been as good. The calm, almost serene yet strong and hard quality Albert gives to the role was inspired, and made the most inconsequential lines in the episode sound really cool.

“The night is young…and there’s work to be done!”

“I couldn’t bear the sight of what I had seen my dad do. It was the last thing I ever saw.”

“And I’m close…so close to confronting my greatest enemy. He’ll pay for what he’s done to the helpless, to the innocent…to my father.”

With lines like that and Edward Albert performance, Daredevil runs away with this episode and never looks back.

That being said, there’s one very unfortunate flaw with the third act of the episode. Daredevil thinks Spider-Man is behind Peter’s framing, due to the Chameleon publically springing him free from the paddy wagon. The obvious problem is that Daredevil is a human lie detector, and can tell when people lie by listening to their heart rate naturally increase. This is as old of a trope as Spider-Man Spider-Sense, so the confrontation at the end really falls apart when thought about twice.

Finally, the animation all around was fairly poor. The models were wonky,and it was a miracle that Daredevil looked as good as he did with the red and black “Carnage” design. This episode premiered a year after Hornhead’s appearance in the Fantastic Four’s second season, and the design the exactly the same. I’ve not seen that episode, but with the second season of F4 came much better designs for the characters all around. DD looked pretty solid in this episode, so one can only drool when fathoming the concept of TMS’ best animation team doing this two-parter.

DD bias aside, this is a very solid episode. Originally graded higher, it comes down to what it is due to the animation, the iffy diallogue and the inconsistency of Daredevil’s abilities at the end. Still, very strong.

4/5 “MARY JAAANE!!!”s

Best Quote Contender: Peter: *While buying a hot dog* “One please, with extra relish.” *Is held up by the “vendor” with a shotgun* “What, are you going to tell me this is bad for my cholesterol?”

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

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