Spider-Man must save Robbie Robertson from a fifteen year sentence at Rooker’s Island. But who framed the Assistant Editor and why? All this plus…JIGSAW JAMESON?!
Story By: John Semper
Written By: Larry Brody and Meg McLaughlin
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)
THE PLOT: Heartbroken by the loss of Mary Jane, Spider-Man contemplates giving up the webs forever. But his retirement is put on hold when he stops the new villain on the block…Robbie Robertson???
LONG STORY SHORT: Through Peter’s photos of the crime scene, evidence of Robbie’s innocence are brought to light. Spider-Man also finds out that the whole set up was a plot for revenge by Tombstone.
MY THOUGHTS: This episode has a very tough act to follow, as well as this season does coming off of season three. Right away, the tone is made clear with Spider-Man in agony over the dissapearance of Mary Jane and the ramifications of both her and Norman Osborn’s loss are felt by the rest of New York.(*EDIT* With a hilarious reaction from Anna Watson being held down by orderlies with zero explanation, and Aunt May’s complacent reasoning for it.) But none are taking it as hard as Spider-Man, and that’s the best thing this episode in particular could have done. This show is btter than to just ignore the events completely, but it’s all Peter can think about. Really, the show would have been over in five minutes had Robbie not been framed, so with that emotional pull we have another very good episode on our hands. While I don’t totally buy the very ending with Robbie and Peter, most of this episode feels right in where Peter is emotionally. That’s the key to believing in the hero when he’s at his lowest point, and to have the stakes remain high by putting a supporting cast member in grave danger really works.
It was said in the review of “Tombstone”, but after a rough start this series got Robbie’s character down. A man of stringent integrity, he contrasts well with both Spider-Man who plays the guilt card, Jameson who puts the guilt card on Spider-Man, and Randy who blames the system. Out of all these characters Robbie is the most passive, but that is not to say that he’s ineffectual as a protagonist here. The way the Kingpin sets him up is pretty brutal and the courts didn’t really help his case either. One silly part was when Robbie made his case on the stand, and people found his story ridiculous. This is a world where a guy named Doctor Octopus can control metal tentacles and peoples mind’s with a thought. Add that to his record, and you have to think that the lawyers were all bought as well, otherwise they’re just dense.
This is also another episode that makes very good use of the supporting characters. We see Glory come back for the first time since season one, we see Martha Robertson and Randy, and we’re introduced to a fairly important supporting character from the comics in Ned Leeds. While his name has usually been dropped in newspaper headlines, this is the first on-screen appearance in the character’s entire history. One wonders why he hadn’t appeared earlier, but that may have had something to do with Betty, and that would have bogged down Peter’s romantic life when he already had MJ and Felicia. Pure assumption on my part, but if that’s the case I can see how that would have been tricky due to the number of subplots this show tried its hand at. (It’s also ironic that he appears two episodes after the Hobgoblin is unmasked and arrested.) But Leeds is funny in that he’s closer to Peter’s age or possibly younger, and he throws both Robbie and Spider-Man under the bus. What’s funnier is how he’s recognized with Peter’s expositional inner monologue “Ned Leeds is right about something…” It goes back to a 1960s comic trope when the characters would address each other by their full name. It makes sense in the context of the show trying to identify Leeds to people unfamiliar with the comics, but logically it’s just funny.
It’s soon after that scene where the episode does a full stop and turns into the J. Jonah Jameson show, and I am not complaining. This is the best use of Jameson thus far in the series, after being fairly ignored in the last season. He’s blustery, hard nosed but also very affectionate and caring. It’s absolutely perfect and makes for a seriously entertaining several minutes when the show follows him. The “Jigsaw Jameson” angle is unique to this show as far as I am aware, but it fits perfectly with Jameson’s character as a newsman. It’s also amusing because the show almost turns into a period piece, with Jameson visiting old haunts and talking like a 1930s private invesitigator. It did get a mite ludacris when the guy Jameson went to see happen to have a Bond villain-esque trap chair with steel cables, but whatever. All of this helped to fully round out Jameson as a man with serious moral integrity even if his viewpoint of Spider-Man is skewed.
And I liked that he kept believing Spider-Man had something to do with Robbie’s framing. He was offbase, but as determined as he was foolish. It really was the best Jameson’s been portrayed and Ed Asner can’t be given enough kudos. He’s the perfect Jameson voice.
The plot being engineered by Tombstone and Wilson and Richard Fisk was pretty slick, although I wondered if there was any other person to help pull strings other than the Kingpin. He’s been in the series so many times, even I am afraid I’m starting to get a little tired of seeing him. But Tombstone I was more than happy to see again, even if it was for a few minutes at the end.
The animation in this episode fluctuated. I didn’t like the models but the actual animation was very good, especially with Spider-Man fighting the guards in the prison. There was also one scene in the fight at the warehouse where Spider-Man dodges laser fire by swinging casually upside-down which I thought looked really cool. There was a healthy amount of action in this episode that kept the story moving and because it was animated so well, it kept interest better than some fight scenes in the past.
The one thing I didn’t care for was Peter’s reaction to Robbie’s speech at the end. I thought Robbie giving the speech was fine, but I would have liked for Peter to be brought down again by being reminded as to why he was considering giving up the costume in the first place. It would have been more realistic, and I felt that while saving Robbie would have justified him being Spider-Man, it didn’t take away the pain of losing Mary Jane. It felt way too pat, and may have just been done to end the episode on a positive note for kids. Perhaps I’m just too negative, but that’s my thoughts on it.
Overall this was a much better season opening than last season’s “Doctor Strange”, as it focused on both Peter’s guilt and the characters in his life. I daresay this episode was better than it needed to be, but that’s never a bad thing.
4.5/5 “MARY JAAANE!!!”s
Best Quote Contender-
Jameson: “Good work Parker! You’re not as lazy as everyone around here says you are!”
All images taken from marvel.toonzone.net