1994 Spider-Man episode #36-“Tombstone” Review

Robbie Robertson’s most dangerous enemy comes back from the shadows to corrupt his son Randy! But Tombstone’s made a dangerous enemy of Spidey after he hassles Aunt May! Can anyone survive?

Story By: John Semper
Written By: John Semper, Marti Isenberg, Larry Brody and Robert Skir
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)

THE PLOT: Alicia Silvermaine has hired Tombstone to destroy evidence the Daily Bugle has aquired that incriminate her in her father’s mafia. To do that, Tombstone goes after Peter Parker through Aunt May, then at Robbie. Spider-Man soon learns the secret orgins of Tombstone and how he came to be.

LONG STORY SHORT: Tombstone tries to blackmail Robbie by putting Randy Robertson through his gang. Spider-Man ends up defeating him, and Robbie and Randy face the consequences together as a family.

“Where’s my money, honey?”

MY THOUGHTS: Another episode burned into my childhood memory, another season three knockout. This episode manages to serve as yet another “done-in-one” without being too mired in continuity. It showcases Tombstone as a very intimidating threat, and in my opinion, finally has an episode that makes Robbie out to be the terrific character he’s been in the comic books. This one also makes Spider-Man out to be sort of a badass, with fight scenes that were fairly thrilling, aided by some nice animation. It’s episodes like these that get lost in memory when thinking back to this series, and it’s a shame because it’s episodes like these that show how good the series really could be.

Starting off at the top, it was a great scene to have Tombstone bust into the Parker home with Aunt May scared out of her wits. May’s been relegated to the hospital a few times already in this show, so while she doesn’t really do much here it was nice to see her being utilized in a different way. Ticking off Spider-Man right at the beginning led for more investment for the viewer in the episode, and it gave way for a really nice fight sequence. I had to rewind back to see if Spidey really webbed Tombstone out of a moving car. He can get like that all the time in the comics when he has to, but to see that here was a welcome bit of characterization. It was also fun to see a fight scene occur in the middle of traffic, with cars being used for collateral damage. Spider-Man got punked at the end of it, but there was a good reason given, that he was too angry to really focus and get the job done.

Of course this is a Robbie centric episode, but it introduces his son Randy as a means to give Robbie more universality to his character. Randy (voiced by Alfonso Ribero) got somewhat of a raw deal in this episode as he was portrayed as being a really stupid kid, almost the cousin of Robert Farrell. Granted Randy did start out in the comics as an easily influenced kid himself, a younger schoolmate to Peter. I suppose there really isn’t much else I could have asked for his part in this story here, as it was mainly just to add pathos for Robbie. What I’m saying is that Randy’s a much stronger character in the comics, so if this is your only impression of him, don’t let it be.

Kwame from Captain Planet?

The Tombstone/Robbie connection here worked great for both characters, despite being different from the comics as well. In the comics, Lonnie Lincoln was always an albino who worked his way up through the streets as an enforcer, and eventually gained super strength. The almost stalker-ish relationship they have in this episode is closer to the source material than what they were going for with the childhood friend aspect, because they clearly weren’t friends. While I find it funny that the stint in Juvy apparently scarred Lincoln for life, I did like the line Robbie gives to Spider-Man when he says “Back in those days, even one strike was too many.” as it was another facet reality the show has sprinkled here and there. What’s interesting in the flashback sequence is that both Lincoln and Robbie have different voice actors when they’re adults. It makes sense for Lincoln because he hadn’t been transformed yet, but it was also interesting for Robbie as it suggested a certain level of age with him. I still stnad by an earlier review when I said that this Robbie seems younger than he is in the comics, but maybe that’s due to the hair color. Robbie in this episode seems aged in wisdom, not vitality. The same goes for his wife Martha, who definitely complemented him with her age in the comics. They weren’t Ben and May Parker old, but they seemed to be in their mid 40’s at least. Here, they appear to be in their late 30s to early 40s, which really doesn’t matter if the characters act the same. But the change in voices suggest a change in attitude or an outlook on life. It’s also interesting that Robbie as a young adult was voiced by Alfonso Ribero as well.

Insert movie tagline here

This episode had some excellent dialogue as well, most apparent with Spidey’s quips. Classic Spidey sarcasm was all over this one with lines like “Revoltin’ isn’t it!” after Tombstone is surprised to see him, and my personal favorite which I’ll save until the end. This is also the first time in my entire life that I got the reference to “He ain’t heavy he’s my brother”, with Spider-man switching the lyrics as Tombstone attempts to flatten him. That never made sense to me until today.

Other great lines revolved around references to Tombstone essentially being a walking dead man. It became a little annoying that the character repeatedly avoiced saying the words “dead” or “die”, but one of the best lines came from Tombstone after Robbie says on the phone “I thought you were..!” and Tombstone cuts him off by saying “What makes you so sure I’m not?” That was downright creepy, and it was that type of dialogue that really sold the threat of Tombstone. He’s nowhere near as deadly as Doc Ock or Venom, but he’s a definite player in the heavy hitter category.

The only thing I wish wasn’t in the episode was (you guessed it) Madame Web. Peter could have easily figured out how to beat Tombstone by himself without her butting in, thereby making Spider-Man come off as a chump like he has several times in this season due to her interference. I wish she was written for a better purpose. I don’t really want to hate the Madame Web character, because I do like how feisty Joan Lee voices her. It goes with the preference of not relying on other people for Spider-Man to come off humanized. You can have him make mistakes without people sayng what a dope he is. I never liked that, and Web’s character in this show only reinforces that trend.

All in all, this was a very solid episode that shows once again how great this season has been and how cool this series could be when it wanted to.

4.5/5 Madame Web billboards

Best Quote Contender:

Tombstone: “Come down here and fight like a man!”

Spidey: *On the ceiling* “I don’t suppose you could come up here and fight like a spider!”

All images taken from marvel.toonzone.net