When a German scientist is kidnapped, all Hell breaks loose! Could Peter Parker’s parents really have been Russian spies? What the is secret Joe Robertson is hiding? And who working at S.H.I.E.L.D. came up with that crazy 3-D cage they put the Chameleon in?
Written By: John Semper
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)
THE PLOT: When news gets out that Aunt May is selling her old home, Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. drags one of his top agents out of retirement to stop her. Elsewhere, a notable German scientist long thought dead is revealed to be alive and kidnapped. Robbie Robertson responds to this news oddly, while the Kingpin re-forms the Insidious Six, replacing the late Mysterio with Vulture.
LONG STORY SHORT: The agent is revealed to be Keene Marlowe, an old friends of the Parker family. He and May tell Peter that his parents died under the assumption of being Russian double agents. Vowing to learn the real truth, Peter cons Jonah into funding his and Robbie’s trip to Russia. The episode ends with Spider-Man and Robbie unconscious after trying to prevent a contact of Robbie’s from being kidnapped by a woman named Silver Sable and her Wildpack.
MY THOUGHTS: We’ve now reached the point in the series where my memories from childhood are at their dimmest. For the life of me and aside from a few key plot points coming up later on, I do not remember a thing about what is known as John Semper’s grand opus in the Six Forgotten Warriors arc. I know I’ve seen these before, but for whatever reason the five-part saga written by the head showrunner for one reason or another just does not resonate with me too well at all. So for the large majority I am going into these episode with a fresh start.
Bearing that in mind, I thought this was one of the best written episodes since early season one. It was amazing how delicately paced the episode was throughout, and the suspense and mystery were both kept taught and restrained. There wasn’t a scene wasted or an aspect that went fully unexplained or left you asking simple question. This was very well thought out from start to finish, and I really hope the momentum is kept up by the end of all five parts.
The opening scene with S.H.I.E.L.D. wanting to stop May Parker from essentially destroying the world is completely laughable, but after you stop laughing you of course want to know why. That’s when the show starts to get you on edge. All the characters begin scrambling, and several different things start happening at once. This is one of the few episodes in which Peter does not appear for a good while until about Act Two. It’s interesting to see how he comes into the plot, and though the connection is small it all does build from the fact that he and Mary Jane were recently married. Half of this would not be happening if Peter and MJ didn’t marry, which prompted May wanting to sell the house and a lot of things being set into motion. The fact that it’s not an episode where Spider-Man is acting as a reactionary is a welcome change of pace.
By this point in the series, it’s a certain for the Kingpin to somehow be involved in all the grand plots for the episode. He has become Spider-Man’s arch nemesis based solely on number of appearances, so if anyone watching this episode was at all surprised or taken aback that he would show up…I don’t know what to tell you. I will say that while there have been two or three instances in the past where his appearance was really unneeded, this is one where I kind of forgive his involvement. It’s virtually the same scenario as the Black Cat episodes where he chooses to involve himself into something which can give him untold amounts of power. That’s the Kingpin to a “T”, and it’s cool to see him calm and controlled while everyone at S.H.I.E.L.D. runs around like chickens with their heads cut off. While that’s nice, the scene where he attacks the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier is the same as when he did it in the beginning of last season. Both instances caught S.H.I.E.L.D. with their pants down, and he pretty much did it on a whim. Both times Landon says he’s crazy, heck both episodes were the second in their seasons! It’s too much of a rip off of itself to be taken straight at face value for a variety of reasons, one of them being that one would think S.H.I.E.L.D. would be ready for this kind of sneak attack. Also…it’s the Kingpin. He’s a crime boss, not a war general. (despite what he says in the episode) It’s questionable at best and BS at its worst.
But I digress. Another great part of this episode was Peter’s gall and anger in response to the smearing of his parents’ names. Peter’s parents have been very rarely mentioned which is the best way to play them in my opinion, as it works for something in the background to separate Peter from most other people. I’m glad they didn’t play the J.M. DeMatties (I think it was DeMatties) angle of Peter inexplicably feeling responsible for his parents deaths because that will never make sense, but the sheer fact that he barely knew them will always sting. To bring them up in this episode and have people tear them down in front of him left and right was a good catalyst for Peter to jump into action. CDB got into his classic emotional range when exclaiming “This can’t be true!” to Marlowe after he tells him the supposed truth. Again, it’s always fun to see Spidey being proactive rather than reactive, and it leads to an excellent scene of comedy at the Daily Bugle later on.
We see the return of the Insidious Six here, with my favorite villain Vulture replacing Mysterio. It’s kind of fun to see the Six back together again, but it does beg the question why since they all quit of their own volition at the end of that second part. Doc Ock has gone on to work for Fisk again, but the others? Rhino and the Chameleon? Heck, Rhino and Shocker! What would make those two work together again after the infamous scene in “Battle”? The plot saying so I suppose, and really if this episode wanted to use them then there’s little space to explain the how and why of their involvement. I suppose the Kingpin’s explanation of the stakes brought them all back, but another question is how did the Shocker escape prison. Vulture was never incarcerated, and neither was Rhino nor Scorpion. Heck, Scorpion got owned by Kingpin himself in the very last episode after he was yanked away by the Goblin Robo-Warrior! In fact, the Chameleon being the 3-D cage makes no sense because can’t he turn into people without his belt now? Why doesn’t he just do that to escape? All of this just to break out the Chameleon?
The Insidious Six continue to make no sense!
Whatever. Be that as it may, it again raises the stakes for Spider-Man to be involved. He would have suffered a very nasty death had Fury not saved him.
In fact, this episode was pretty fair in terms of relenting on the censorship. The words “death” and “die” are used pretty frequently, in stark contrast to Harry saying that he dreams of Spider-Man “destroying” his father in the last episode. With this episode and the following several being written by Semper, I think we get a feel for the kind of Spider-Man show he really aimed to make. This is a (mostly) serious episode with several key players being introduced and put into place. There’s a definite reason why everything is happening, and you really aren’t sure what’s going to happen next. The animation treats it with dignity for most scenes except Mary Jane telling Peter to do what he has to, as that scene was taken SHOT-FOR-SHOT directly from “The Prowler” episode with different dialogue being used. It is blatant.
Of course I would be remiss in not mentioning the killer scene with Peter convincing Jameson to let him go off to Russia because Spider-Man told him he went there to rule their government. It’s so hilariously stupid of an explanation, made even more funny because it’s just the sort of thing Jonah wants to believe. No one else is supposed to buy it, but Jameson sure as heck does. This also gets Robbie into the plot and makes a real mystery as to why he wants to go to. You don’t have a clue, but it has to be something big in accordance to this plot.
This was a great surprise of an episode, and it deserves plaudits for being such. It’s a shame that it’s not as well known as the other episodes most people love, but perhaps that’s due to a bad conclusion. Here’s hoping that it’s just a case of faded memory.
4.5/5 “MARY JANE!!!”s
Best Quote Contender-
Kingpin: “Nothing is impregnable to the Kingpin…”
All images taken from Marvel.toonzone.net and drg4.wariocompany.com respectively.