Peter Parker, “rookie” superhero, is now ready to be trained by S.H.I.E.L.D. to become the ULTIMATE Spider-Man. Thus, I return to the hustle and bustle of the Crawlspace Offices. Luckily, Spider-Man’s not training alone. His training includes joining a team of B-List teenage superheroes, including Iceman and Firestar. Oh, what? Wrong cartoon? Okay, sorry.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN Season One, Episode Two
Written By: Paul Dini
THE STORY: Peter Parker has now warmed up to the idea of being trained by S.H.I.E.L.D. Little does he realize that he will be forced to join a team of obnoxious teenage “superheroes”. While they attempt to pull themselves together, Norman Osborn orders Igor (I mean Doctor Octopus) to send the Frightful Four after Spider-Man again, because it worked out so well the first time. For some reason, this time, Spidey needs the help of Nova, White Tiger, Power Man, and Iron Fist to stop them. Thus, Spider-Man learns the value of teamwork and they all lived happily ever after.
THOUGHTS: I tried to be positive, I tried to go easy on the first episode, and I think I did well in that regard. Here, it’s just impossible. I enjoyed the first episode, it had good humor, and mainly, it wasn’t painful to watch. The entire time I watched this, I was cringing. I am being honest, this was difficult to sit through. The humor was a serious step down from last episode, the fun was removed, and four teenage B-List superheroes were just thrown into the pot. The thing is, the idea of Peter being trained by S.H.I.EL.D. and Nick Fury is not a terrible idea, and you can see where it would come from in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. The role Nick Fury plays for Peter’s life in that series and the conversations they had, you can easily imagine Nick training him. In fact, we did have the short-lived “Superhero School” story right before Peter’s death. Yet, we now must tolerate these four teenagers with awful personalities that make me feel like I’m watching Teen Titans. Allow me to quickly explain why I can’t stand these characters.
Nova. Nova is a character I usually don’t care about in the comics, but I don’t hate the guy. This version, Sam Alexander, is so completely obnoxious that he is almost my biggest con of the show. It’s clear to me that the showrunners set Nova up to have a Human Torch-like rivalry against Spider-Man. It really doesn’t work for me because everything Nova says is either an insult or something negative. I can’t stand this character.
White Tiger, insult me if you will, is a character that I had never even heard of prior to this series. She’s not nearly as annoying as Nova, but she’s really only there for one reason. Apparently, Spider-Man needs an older sister. The older sister to look down upon our hero as he argues with his teammates. Her only purpose is to turn to the audience and say something along the lines of, “Boys are so stupid. Am I right?”. No, Spider-Man does not need an older sister.
Iron Fist is the chill guy of the group. He gets his meditation-thing on, but that’s pretty much it.
I never mind seeing Luke Cage in the comics, yet his role here is, as with all three of the others, tiny and unnecessary. Similar to the White Tiger, he seems to be playing the role of Spider-Man’s older brother.
I don’t know if I’m being picky, but these characters just don’t belong here. We, as the audience, are supposed to cheer for Spidey to learn the value of teamwork and learn to be a better hero through it. Instead, I can’t wait for the episode to be over. We need characters that Spidey can build off of. Anyway, I’ll be a little more positive now. The episode still looks great, the costumes are visually appealing, though the S.H.I.E.L.D. interiors are a little dull. The fighting is kind of interesting to watch, but it really feels like a video game, which is what it is supposed to do. I don’t really like this either. The video game style takes any and all sense of danger and seriousness out of the fights. Although, (I said a little more positive, not a lot) it does fit the ridiculous pace of the series. Honestly, it’s just not good.
Something specific I want to address is the reintroduction of characters. I alluded to it in the last review, but I’ll spell it out now. I’m a big fan of the nineties animated series, and Spectacular Spider-Man. I feel like the villains and supporting characters were given strong and interesting introductions in both of these series. A great example of this is the relationship between Norman Osborn and Otto Octavius in Spectacular Spider-Man. As I quipped earlier, Otto is the Igor to Norman Osborn’s Dr. Frankenstein. You can feel the tension between them, and it’s easy to see why Otto would want revenge on him. In this series, they clearly have the same relationship, but Otto is creepier and it’s less effective. When we get to the Doctor Octopus episode I’ll get more into this, but, Doc Ock has the same origin, the same relationship with Norman, and a different look. Why? Why reintroduce this character if you’re just going to repeat the previous series? This is especially odd to me because I feel like this series is trying so very hard not to repeat anything Spectacular did. Oh, boy, just wait ’till I get my hands on the Venom episode.
Up to this point, I’ve mostly been looking at the episode in pieces, so I’ll do a quick look at it as a whole. This is really not what I want from a Spider-Man series. Throughout the show, there is a feeling of tension and stress to get through the story and KEEP! THE ENERGY!! UP!!! Jeez. I understand you must have a lot of energy to keep a child’s attention. Honestly, though, if I were a bit younger and not wanting to review this for the site, I would stop watching it. Spectacular Spider-Man kept my attention, yet it also told good stories, and it was fun and not painful.