Written By: John Semper, Mark Hoffmeier and Ernie Altbacker
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi
Animation Services By: Toyko Movie Shinsha (TMS)
THE PLOT: Doctor Doom attacks the F4 and kidnaps The Thing, curing him of his transformation and giving him the ability to transform back and forth from Ben Grimm at will. Doom promises benevolence, but Reed Richards isn’t so sure.
LONG STORY SHORT: Predictably, Doom goes mad and takes control of the Beyonder’s powers somehow. He loses control, but once the heroes gain the upper hand The Beyonder ends the contest. He mindwipe everyone except Spider-Man, and sends him to his greatest challenge ever…
MY THOUGHTS: With the end of the Secret Wars saga, we get more of a Fantastic Four episode than a Spidey one or that of a Marvel Super Hero crossover. Not saying it’s necessarily a bad or unwelcome thing, but ti does show how multi-polar this arc has been. I’ll get into it in a bit, but for now let’s talk about the Four and Doom.
For those who may not know, Dr. Doom was actually a frequent enemy of Spider-Man in the 1982 animated series. Him and Magneto fought the webslinger more often than Green Goblin or Doc Ock, and it’s a curious thing to consider when remembering Spidey’s extensive rogues gallery. But I thought it was sort of fun to see them go up against each other in this show, almost like a reunion. However this episode does feature the Fantastic Four more, specifically Ben. The background behind the Four getting on the show is interesting since they did have a 90s animated series running concurrent with Spider-Man at the time, yet only Quinton Flynn as Johnny Storm returned. Apparently John Semper didn’t care for the show much (the guy didn’t care for a lot of things really.) resulting in the cast change. I haven’t seen the F4 90s show in years, though I do remember the second season being much cooler than the first, even though the first season’s theme song is catchy as heck.
But we get Ben Grimm taking up the spotlight for the most part, and while I hate to be a broken record with this guy a lot of the episode’s consequences are all his fault. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Thing in the comics (not when he appeared in 60s Spider-Man though). In this three parter however he comes off looking very stupid. I know the plot of Doom tempting Ben away from Reed and turning him against him is a tried and tested one, from the comics to the movie. But in this episode, curing Ben’s disfigurement alone doesn’t really allow for such blind trust in the guy. He’s been a supervillain in the Four’s history for years, why would he change now? And Grimm goes on his side against his family, at least go back to them and try to bridge things over.
I did enjoy Reed’s high emotions towards Doom. It was a welcome show of character I honestly didn’t think was going to be in this episode. Sue was really the one member of the Four who got kind of shafted in the trilogy, only contributing once in part one. Admittedly, there was very little time for new characters to the show’s audience to get acquainted with them but it is a setback for what they were going for. This is the most pathos driven episode in the Secret Wars arc, and it that it’s a noble failure. I got the sense that Doom was honest-to-goodness trying to do what he thought was right, but the tragic irony of his villainy was completely overshot. With Doom’s new found Godhood, Reed’s anger over Ben being cured and Ben’s loyalties being tested, this really should have been a subplot carried over throughout all three parts. But alas…
I have to say that this overall was a failed opportunity of storytelling. From what I understand, the Secret Wars in the comics was a crossover gimmick initiated to sell toys for the Mattel line. The comics in themselves were made to have lasting ramifications for the respective characters involved. That’s part of what made it so memorable. Like I said before, this feels like Spider-Man plopped onto a G.I. Joe episode, and not a very good one. I understand for episode length’s sake that it had to be limited, but if the producers wanted an epic feeling crossover, this needed to be a season-long arc. All the emotions felt hollow, Black Cat was pointless and useless in her return, and it delayed what in my opinion was a much better crossover. “What’s that?” one who may not have seen the series finale might say? Tune in next week to find out…
3/5 “MARY JAAANE!!!”s
all images taken from Marvel.toonzone.net