Spider-Man: the NEW Animated Series Episode #2 Review- “Royal Scam”

 The Kingpin makes his Cel-Shaded debut on the MTV series! But can Michael Clarke Duncan’s Fisk compare to the ones that have come before?



Screenplay By: Rick Suvalle Directed By: Vincent Edwards

THE PLOT: Spider-Man is approached by men claiming to be from the FBI, requesting that he steal a digital chip that would allow for access to online bank accounts worldwide. Foregoing a chance to see Mary Jane perform in a campus theater performance, Spidey makes the swipe and realizes too late that he was an unwitting pawn of the Kingpin!

LONG STORY SHORT: Peter is taken in by the real FBI and given the serious nature of the situation. Should Kingpin use the digital chip, bank accounts worldwide would be emptied out in a heartbeat. Spidey manages to stop the Kingpin with the FBI’s assistance, and makes a third try the charm when finally catching MJ’s play. MJ is appreciative but conflicted, as she gave up on Peter seeing her and leaves with another man.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a marked improvement over the pilot, as all of my complaints with that episode and the series in general were fixed. The focus was more concentrated on Peter and his dual life, the villain was more interesting (naturally, as it was the Kingpin), and Mary Jane was written much better. On nearly all points, I wish this were the pilot although by the nature of the plot it works better as a one off. Nevertheless, this was an all-around better episode and an enjoyable one at that.

NPH’s Peter/Spidey was way more recognizable in the writing as the webhead here. He was dealing with money problems, girl problems, and problems as Spider-Man. What made this stand out is that his approaches to all were that which a regular college freshman would probably find themselves resorting to. This a more fresh, green Spider-Man who is struggling to do the best he can. I find it endearing in this series partly because Peter isn’t made in the narrative to look like a doofus for one. Also, Peter is written to be much more in line with Tobey Maguire’s interpretation in this. He’s a lot more bumbling and nervous around Mary Jane, resembling both Spider-Man 1 and Spider-Man 2’s Peter whenever he tried to express his feelings. This wasn’t done overboard, and I could see how Mary Jane would find herself attracted to such a guy. My favorite scene in the episode was Spider-Man on his cell phone clinging to the side of a skyscraper talking to MJ. It was very well directed, and if the show could capture that kind of essence in every episode, then it’s a moderate success in the very least.

Mary Jane was done a much better service in this episode as well, showing actual motivation that was divorced in part from getting Peter’s attention and made her come off as understandably mad without being annoying, which is hard to do for movie Mary Jane. I’m rapidly becoming a fan of Lisa Loeb’s voice acting for the character. She really does display the hip-girl bravado juxtaposed with the innermost yearning that MJ needs to embody. Her performance gives MJ a certain maturity while still having her come off as a believable 18-19 year old. I fully expected her to bust out yelling at Peter after he failed to make her performance the second time, but she just exasperatedly told her she wasn’t expecting much from him. Even at the end, she showed so much more dignity than she did in “Heroes and Villains” when she told Peter she didn’t understand why him being there mattered to her. This is the bar MJ’s characterization should reach in the series, and I hope the show keeps it up for the remaining season.

 Alternatively, the Kingpin was someone who deserved better than he got. At first, he was looking to be pretty awesome. It’s the Michael Clarke Duncan version the underrated 2003 Daredevil movie, and he does a great job voicing the character. His voice was always cool anyway, s really it was a no-brainer to cast him. When he first comes out lambasting Spider-Man’s intelligence, all was well.

 Then he started eating.


Kingpin was quickly reduced to a relatively low-level thug with a penchant for food.  It’s funny because he’s fat ya’see! Get it? Gimmie a break…did they even watch the DD movie? He was a beast in the flick, but apparently he’s supposed to be a mildly threatening, pudgy goofball. The animation didn’t help what strength the character did show. When he and his goons fled the car explosion in the alley, watching them run instantly made me think of the Simpsons line “He’s very slowly getting away…” No way in hell would Spider-Man, a superhero whose reflexes are 15x faster than that of a normal human being’s, could lose track of this guy. At the end, Kingpin became a simple mustache twirling farce of what he’s supposed to be. He was literally cackling as he was getting away in the helicopter. One thing I didn’t understand was the directing of the final scene with him falling. It seemed as though he was going to die, until there’s a jump cut and we see him webbed up on the street. It was very odd.

 One aspect of awesomeness was the appearance of Keith David as the FBI agent. He wasn’t given a whole lot of memorable dialogue (“Call me ‘Dumbo’, ’cause I’m all ears…” ugh) but he did very well as he always does. There’s not been a single solitary voice acting job Keith David hasn’t instantly ruled in, and it makes wish he had a more recurring role in the series as an established character. I honestly don’t think his character comes back, but his appearance here was nice all the same.

This show still reminds me of the ’67 cartoon. The FBI/Kingpin plot felt very reminiscent of the type of government/black and white plots of yesteryear and the Kingpin’s horrible outing in this episode was only the second time I could remember his character being so bad. This still had the heart of Spider-Man typical adventures that the ’67 show mostly lacked, and for that this was pretty fun. A very simple one-and-done episode that was an entertaining twenty-two minutes spent.

3.5/5 music videos

*Best Quote Contender

The Kingpin: “Let’s show him what he’s made of…”

All images taken from marvel.toonzone.net/

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