Written By: John Semper
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
THE PLOT: Red Skull reveals that his son Reinhold was the intended Doomsday Weapon all along, giving him supernatural electric powers and donning him the moniker “Electro”. Reinhold proceeds to turn on his father and utterly decimates everyone with his powers, to the point where even S.H.I.E.L.D. is destroyed. In the battle, Mary Jane is electrocuted.
LONG STORY SHORT: Spider-Man and Captain America figure out how to stop Electro, and Cap and Red Skull go back into the time loop. Spider-Man goads Electro into disrupting the time loop as well, causing him to vanish. The remaining American Warriors are once again vaunted as heroes, and Peter returns to Mary Jane promising to never give up being Spider-Man.
MY THOUGHTS: Right at the start, this is a hard nut to crack conceptually because the entire crux of this massive five part epic rests at the feet of the idea that not only is Electro the Red Skull’s son in this show, but he’s the most powerful villain Spidey’s gone up against since Dormmamu.
So how exactly does that work?
The technology and science used to power the Six American Warriors was based off of bits and pieces from Project: REBIRTH which gave us Captain America. The reason given why the Six’s powers kept fading was because the process was incomplete and unstable. By that logic, one was ascertain that science had no yet caught up with the formula that gave Steve Rogers his powers. So how exactly could the German scientists have done this little hush-hush venture, kept it THIS secret for over 50 years, and have it completely work once the science has been applied?
It’s not exactly a plot hole, but I have a big problem grasping this conceit. For all intents and purposes, the German scientists were able to create a God with their technology. After the scientists were assumed to be dead, S.H.I.E.L.D. disbanded the American Six and went about their business, with any knowledge about Project: REBIRTH being attributed to John Hardesky’s memory. Why didn’t anyone else try to pick up on this? Study at the least, replicate it at the most. We see Electro’s power in full force throughout this entire episode, pretty much taking out the Kingpin for the remainder of the series and even destroying the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. The latter is no small feat, but the fact that all of this was a result of planning to give to one person…I really have trouble accepting. I know it’s a flip on the Captain America origin, and Nazis in fiction always seem to want to do this, but…it’s weird to me.
For the episode itself, it was about as good as it could have been given the situation the Electro reveal was. A lot of this was fighting, but there were some nice character bits interspersed as well. One thing at the beginning that I mentioned earlier, Kingpin is electrocuted and sent to the hospital in an ambulance. Is there anything prevent him from being arrested, or at least questioned as to what he was doing at the battle? Then again, the Insidious Six disband again and aren’t seen by anyone once the authorities arrive. I suppose Fisk never really does get arrested or charged in his criminal affairs, which is kind of interesting. At the same time, he was very loose with maintaining his secret identity in this arc, so several people should report him.
Something that I had a big, BIG problem with (and I’m sure you will too) in the last episode was Spider-Man saying he’d take the heroes from the Golden Age over the modern day heroes any day of the week. Umm…what? The guy who’s life was saved by the likes of the X-Men, Blade, Doctor Strange, and ESPECIALLY Daredevil has the gump to say that out loud? COME ON PETER! Matt Murdock and Daredevil saved your hide from being in prison! Daredevil saved you from asphyxiating in Richard Fisk’s closet! Mary Jane is alive(-ish) because of these so-called modern day heroes. Get your priorities straight man.
Not only that, but in this episode Cap looks around town, New York specifically, and says “It looks like this world is in serious need of heroes!” or something to that galling effect. I can tell that Semper had a blast writing these guys, but this was just obnoxious. Why take the time to slander characters you used in your own show in the past if you’re laying on thick a subtext that they aren’t as good as heroes used to be? I know they want to big up the old guard, but don’t do it at the expense of the new guard. The worst way to compliment someone or something is by insulting someone/thing else. That’s just petty, and I got rather tired of it in these last 2 episodes.
For the positives, I thought Semper really captured the essence of all the players in the arena. While that may sound like hollow praise, everyone was played to their strengths, including Mary Jane. She may have relegated to “damsel-in-distress” mode, but only technically. It did show a maturity of the character that she ran to help out her husband when he was battling for his life. It’s something that was brought up in “The Lizard King”, and it serves as a nice theme of the episode. It’s all about the price of heroics and how it can never be simple, but one must never give up when it gets tough. Cap’s speech to Spider-Man perfectly encapsulated that and it was very well told in an episode where a dude in a starfish cowl wrecks the planet DBZ-style.
Another part of the show I liked was that it was very much like “Day of the Chameleon” where you had Spider-Man and the Chameleon battling with S.H.I.E.L.D. caught in the middle. I kind of marked out when the Helicarrier showed up in plain sight to stop Electro, and it was slightly reminiscent to the coming of the New Gods in Superman: the animated series which was airing around that time. Electro taking S.H.I.E.L.D. down however brought back my troubles with him being this insanely powerful. For those who have not listened to the Amazing Spider-Man Classics Podcast, in episode (I believe) 9 we discuss Electro’s abilites and how weird it is that he got his abilites by basically getting electrocuted. That alone has always been odd for me personally, but I attach myself to that sort of design for his powers. Seeing him take out S.H.I.E.L.D. was almost too much for me, though it was a cool scene. It just reiterated the question of why nobody knew about this type of crazy power.
The absolute WORST thing about this whole episode was the fact that two key scenes were shown completely in reversed order. The scene where Cap and Spidey reach the Skull’s hideout and are ambushed by the Skull and Chameleon is shown AFTER we see a scene of the two crippled on the floor in a random room with Skull and Chameleon standing triumphantly over them. It’s as bad as the show ever gets in animation, and severely hurts whatever pristine sense of dignity the arc had at that point. Having not really been familiar with this arc as I have the other episodes, I did hear about this going in and thought that an entire act was shown out of order. But although it’s not as bad as that, it’s still pretty stinking awful.
Overall, this episode was serviceable as a finale, though I wish it were a bit more epic. For the arc itself, it was definitely comparable to the better sprawling aspects of seasons 2, 3 and 4. The writing was grander, and you saw underlying themes that carried from episode to episode. It felt big, and it was big. Some nuance was definitely lost once the American Six came into action, but the inclusion of Silver Sable, the Wildpack and the Insidious Six made it seem important. It also went back to Spider-Man at the end. People had complaints about him jobbing earlier in the arc, but he manages to save the world on his own at the end of part five. That’s pretty hefty stuff.
I must say however, that I cannot WAIT for the next two episodes. Oh yes…you know which ones I’m referring to.
3/5 “MARY JAAANE!!!”s
Best Quote Contender-
Spider-Man: “No! Cap don’t do it! I can’t defeat Electro without you!”
Captain America: “You can do it Spider-Man! You’re a hero! First! Last! Always! Fight on Spider-Man! Fight On!”
All images taken from marvel.toonzone.net and drg4.wariocompany.com respectively.